By Ron Breault
After more than six months of discussions, conference calls, planning, and organization, something exciting and eagerly anticipated is about to occur in the world of Industrial Process Control Automation.
The week of June 10th will see The Open Group hold the first ever Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) Interoperability event! This “members only” event will see companies coming together to test the interoperability of their Industrial Process Control products and/or prototypes, each of which have been built following The Open Group Preliminary Standard “O-PAS™ Standard, Version 1.0”. In practical terms, this means that a group of competing companies will assemble together in a room, plug their devices into a common network, configure software, simulation and measurement tools, then execute a series of tests to gauge their ability to interoperate with each other. I’m sure that plenty of hands on hard work, too much coffee and perhaps more than a little adrenaline will make the week go by quickly!
While the event isn’t being hosted in Las Vegas, the turn of a familiar phrase comes to mind: “What happens at Interop, stays at Interop!” Much of what occurs at the interop event, must and will remain confidential. There will be no “Best Of” awards, no press releases on test case performance, no finger pointing at participants. This will be a “safe” forum in which companies can test their understanding of the newly released (Feb., 2019) O-PAS™ standard, and exercise live functionality in a controlled, multi-vendor environment; an environment which no single vendor can create on their own.
This will also be an excellent opportunity for The Open Group to receive practical, “experienced” feedback on the O-PAS™ Standard, potentially leading to updates, clarifications or other improvements prior to the removal of the “Preliminary” tag and specification republication planned for later this year. At the end of the week, participants in the interoperability event, together with members of the OPAF Technical Working Group Interoperability Subcommittee, will capture their learnings and any relevant statistics from the testing (e.g. number of products and prototypes exercised, number of test cases executed, key vendor independent findings, technology challenges noted, etc.). Once documented, the OPAF leadership team will determine what information can be safely shared with the industry in general, as the results will be an important signpost in the growing maturity of the OPAF effort.
As a member of the Interoperability Subcommittee, and a participating member company, I am excited that this first Interop event is almost upon us. I look forward to working together with all the participating companies as we collectively help move the Open Process Automation yard sticks forward!