PTC Kepware provides industrial data to Microsoft Azure using OPC UA and MQTT protocols

PTC announced Thursday that its Kepware industrial connectivity software now integrates with Microsoft Azure. Utilizing open-source, standards-based communications, Kepware’s KEPServerEX software moves data between industrial controls devices and the Azure cloud platform – allowing organizations to better connect, monitor, and manage Internet of Things (IoT) assets across complex industrial environments.

KEPServerEX provides a single integrated platform for collecting, aggregating, and providing secure access to industrial operations data. It is also evolving with the IIoT to support platform independence and new methods of data access—including support for web-based technologies and publish/subscribe messaging protocols. Kepware is developing these solutions to help the IIoT deliver on its promise of improved operational efficiency through applications like preventative maintenance, energy monitoring, product lifecycle insights, and global production tracking.

Acting as the hub for machine communication is Kepware’s IoT Gateway, an advanced plug-in capable of pushing information collected by KEPServerEX into big data and analytic software applications. Kepware and Microsoft’s industrial IoT solutions seamlessly integrate with the help of OPC UA. KEPServerEX can move industrial control data to the Azure cloud platform by utilizing both OPC UA and MQTT via the Azure IoT Gateway SDK and Azure IoT Hub.

“The integration of KEPServerEX and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is a great way to support the needs of manufacturers, the OPC UA foundation, and standards that foster IoT innovation,” said Sam George, director, Microsoft Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp. “We’re proud to foster the advancement of the IoT ecosystem with Kepware and its deep domain experience.”

“A major hurdle in widespread Industrial IoT adoption is interoperability. With more than 20 billion devices expected to come online in the next five years, and a subsequent flood of complex industrial data, interoperability will become increasingly important,” said Erik Dellinger, strategic industrial partner manager, Kepware. “It is essential that industrial automation companies and device cloud vendors begin to speak the same language. By collaborating with Microsoft, we are addressing this challenge and strengthening our support for evolving industry standards.”

One example of how customers are using KEPServerEX and Azure is a use case from BMW Group. To address the team’s many requirements for industrial IoT and big data applications, especially in the area of predictive maintenance, an “IoT Sandbox Platform” has been created, enabling new applications with connectivity from any existing PLC in their factories to be easily connected to the Azure cloud platform for big data analysis.

In addition to integration with the Azure cloud platform, KEPServerEX supports Windows 10 in order to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics. KEPServerEX also provides industrial connectivity to a wide range of other client applications, including the ThingWorx Industrial IoT platform from PTC.

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