OSIsoft User Conference 2018: Continued Evolution and Momentum [MondayMusings]

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the OSIsoft User Conference in San Francisco. While the event overlapped with the biggest industrial trade show in the world, Hannover Messe, there was no noticeable impact on OSIsoft User Conference’s attendance. The conference has continued to grow year over the years, and this year the event expanded beyond the regular hotel contract to spread across three separate hotels.

At this point, it could be argued that the event is the largest pure-play industrial software conference in the industry. The users that attend come from the who’s who of the Fortune 500 (and many small and midsized companies as well). The partners that exhibit or visit, create an impressive ecosystem.

Of all the large industrial software companies, it could also be argued that OSIsoft is the most open. Of course, this is what their customers demand and is a part of the OSIsoft value proposition. But many other software companies that tout openness don’t make it nearly as easy. Over the past several years we have seen key partnerships announced with IT players, like Microsoft, PTC, and SAP. We have also seen the emergence of an entire group of very exciting advanced industrial analytics providers, like Seeq, Element Analytics, TrendMiner, and Falkonry to name a few.

Top Priorities for OSIsoft

As is customary, company founder Pat Kennedy was one of the first speakers on stage and spent a few minutes sharing with the audience his valued perspective on the industry. He highlighted the technology areas OSIsoft is investing in and the top customer priorities established through the customer advisory board.

Data connectivityTechnology Priorities:

  • Collect everything - value of data is monotonic with scope of data
  • Manage PI system health - machines scale, people don’t. There is a need to automate management of system
  • PI vision – analytics is layered, information is unique. The more people that consume, the more valuable it is
  • Integrators – essential because so many things need data in the PI system
  • Cloud services - change how systems are used

Customer Priorities:

  • Data quality (top choice) – users are more and more removed from the data. There is a range of bad. How does OSIsoft look at data and improve the quality? Part is in the data infrastructure. Multiplicity of data and sensors – some judgements to be made
  • Innovation - work with others to see what can be done with data, find new ways of doing business
  • Mobile worker – basic changes in architecture change how people work. Data to workers, not workers to data
  • Open source – how is OSIsoft supporting big communities trying to build software that works in the industrial world
  • Joint R&D and innovation – OSIsoft uses the same software in many different industries, allows the building of more and more things
  • Legacy migration – won’t move as fast as pundits think, but it is going to change. Much of the data sits in secure hostile environments
  • Operational data is needed across enterprise – application construction and asset optimization
  • Data sharing – make it easy like Facebook
  • Analytics – How we treat and look at data, this will be highest payout
  • IT issues – 22 million tags, 1 million events per second. Creates issue of security. PI often sits between hacker and industrial control system

There is not much that can be argued with in how these priorities are laid out, and whether they will serve the company and customers well if they are followed. If there is one criticism that could be levied against these lists, they are PI System centric. OSIsoft, and many OSIsoft users, often view the world with PI as the basis and all other systems in relation. However, those that do not work at PI or are not frequent users tend to have very different architectural views.

New OSIsoft Vision

After Dr. Kennedy presented, there were two other notable presentations given by Greg Leblanc, VP Product and Penny Gunterman, Product Marketing Lead. Both presentations indicated that there are talented and influential individuals within OSIsoft that are seriously rethinking the product strategy and architecture.

As many of my loyal blog readers know, I am skeptical about the future of the Data Historian market for many reasons. This position, however, should not be extended to assume that I am skeptical on the future of OSIsoft. The company has one of the most engaged and loyal customer bases in the market among many other positive qualities. The real question for the long-term success of OSIsoft is if they can deliver a product and architecture that aligns with the vision they have been pushing into the market for several years now, providing an “Operational Data Infrastructure.”

Greg and Penny’s presentations were a step in this direction, outlining how the company will be moving towards a future architecture, that:

  • Increases dimensionality of data and can even handle data that is not time-series in nature
  • Increases sources of data collection
  • Scales across Edge and Cloud architectures

LNS Research Take

OSIsoft continues to impress on many fronts, and the recent SoftBank investment was not overtly presented at the conference but much subtler in the expanded vision for the company’s product and architecture. LNS Research continues to be cautiously optimistic about the future of OSIsoft in the market. There are disruptors looming on the horizon – but if over the coming year (or perhaps several) OSIsoft can deliver a product and architecture that aligns to its expanded vision for “Operational Data Architecture” and can do so in a way that doesn’t pay to much concern for preserving the likely unsustainable practices of the past – the future is very bright.

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