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SEP-OCT 2017

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40 INTECH SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 WWW.ISA.ORG By John Rinaldi I ntroduced in the late 1990s, OPC quickly became a global standard for communica- tions to Microsoft Windows computers. Tens of thousands of OPC servers were deployed in every corner of the automation industry. The acronym OPC was born from object linking and embedding (OLE) for process control. As the technology changed, the acronym changed to stand for open platform communications. The problem with OPC OPC was built on now obsolete Windows Ob ject Linking Embedding (OLE) using Microsoft Windows Common Object Model (COM), and it s erved industry well. It let OPC servers con- ceal the gritty details of communication from applications (figure 1), so data from all sorts of automation equipment could communi - cate using a standard and open mechanism. Users could work with standard Microsoft applications, in cluding Excel, Word, or Visual Basic, or implement their own applications us - ing data from automation equipment without ever knowing the details of how those devices communicated. Over time, OPC (commonly referred to as OPC Classic) had security issues, both real and perceived, and a real problem was its dependency on Microsoft Windows COM. In addition, new versions of Windows were con- tinually being re leased, making previous ver- sions obsolete and complicating support. OPC was strictly a Microsoft Windows tech- nology that could not be used on other plat- forms, including Linux and VxWorks. It was impossible to maintain an OPC Classic server on a Microsoft Windows platform for the life Why OPC is your future: Getting data to operate more productively and efficiently is the new job

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