• Nick D.

Sparkplug Working Group to Standardize IIoT Communications

The Eclipse Foundation has launched the Sparkplug Working Group to drive the evolution and broad adoption of the Eclipse Sparkplug Specification, which enables creation of open, interoperable, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions using MQTT open-source communications specification. In particular, the group will encourage the definition of technical specifications and associated implementations that rationalize access to industrial data, improve interoperability and scalability of IIoT solutions, and provide an overall framework for supporting Industry 4.0 for oil and gas, energy, manufacturing, smart cities and related industries. Founding members include Chevron, Canary Labs, Cirrus Link Solutions, HiveMQ, Inductive Automation and ORing.

“With the rapid adoption of Sparkplug within multiple markets critical to IIoT, we're in an excellent position to drive standardization around this transformative technology,” says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. “Sparkplug leverages ubiquitous specifications already in use throughout the industry to provide standardized communications between devices. With the new working group’s ‘code first’ approach and the Eclipse Foundation’s vendor-neutral governance, we’re anticipating a great deal of progress very quickly.”

Many industries already rely on MQTT, which is a standard, machine-to-machine data transfer protocol that's become a leading messaging protocol for IIoT. MQTT was originally designed as a message transport method for real-time SCADA systems, though it doesn't define data formats or address interoperability issues. Sparkplug is reported to solve these problems by defining an MQTT topic namespace, payload and session state management that can be applied generically. By meeting the operational requirements for these systems, Sparkplug will enable MQTT-based infrastructures to provide more valuable real-time information to users. In other words, Sparkplug augments MQTT devices to provide standardization for most devices out of the box, enabling vendors, manufacturers and other industrial end-users to develop an ecosystem of solutions and devices that can easily interoperate.

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