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Sparkplug: Standardizing Industrial IoT Communications

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With the launch this week of the Sparkplug Working Group, we’re bringing together the industry leaders and technologies needed to drive development and broad adoption of the Eclipse Sparkplug specification for open, interoperable, Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions that use the MQTT protocol.

MQTT is an open and lightweight publish-subscribe messaging protocol that was first developed in the late 1990s for real-time message transport in Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Because it’s designed for low-bandwidth, low-power environments, it’s ideal for IIoT and industrial automation applications that rely on data from massive numbers of sensors.

Sparkplug Augments MQTT With IIoT Interoperability Essentials

Today, MQTT is the dominant messaging protocol for IIoT applications, but it doesn’t define the data format and it doesn’t address issues around device compatibility and interoperability — capabilities that are essential in IoT environments where all device and software services must share a common data format and support the same life cycle stages of device information.

The Sparkplug specification will resolve these issues. It will define an MQTT topic namespace, payload, and session state management approach that can be applied generically. The goal is to provide standardization for most MQTT devices out of the box so vendors, manufacturers, and industrial end users can develop an ecosystem of solutions and devices that can easily interoperate.

Broad Support Across Industries

With the Sparkplug Working Group’s focus on specifications and implementations that rationalize industrial data and improve the interoperability and scalability of IIoT solutions, companies in industries ranging from oil and gas to energy, manufacturing, and smart cities will have an overall framework to support their evolution to Industry 4.0.

The breadth and stature of the Sparkplug Working Group’s founding members confirm the huge need for industrial system interoperability and the value of the Sparkplug initiative across industries. Founding members include global leaders, such as Chevron, Canary Labs, Cirrus Link Solutions, HiveMQ, Inductive Automation, and ORing.

These companies, and others, are embracing Sparkplug to take IIoT applications to the next level with MQTT implementations that provide valuable, real-time information in a highly reliable, scalable, and secure way.

Get Involved With Sparkplug

I’m very excited about the huge potential and opportunities that will open up for everyone involved in IIoT and industrial automation as the Sparkplug Working Group pushes forward to standardize MQTT device communications. This is truly transformative technology, and I want to sincerely thank all of the corporations and individuals who have brought us to this point.

To get involved with the Eclipse Sparkplug Working Group and contribute to the project, please visit https://sparkplug.eclipse.org.

Also, the Eclipse Foundation and our member companies will be showcasing the Sparkplug Working Group at the ARC Advisory Group’s 24th Annual Industry Forum, February 3-6 in Orlando. If you’re at the Forum, be sure to drop by Inductive Automation’s booth (booth #25) to learn more.

Written by Mike Milinkovich

February 6, 2020 at 8:08 am

Posted in Foundation, Open Source

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