If you missed the Ignition Community Conference this year, you can still experience the latest and greatest of the industrial evolution. I highly recommend that you check out the keynote, which includes presentations from our CEO, Chief Strategy Officer, Co-Directors of Software Engineering, and Co-Director of Sales Engineering. Also, if you want to watch this year’s session videos, visit the ICC website to purchase your Virtual Ticket.
The 2017 Ignition Community Conference (ICC) was our biggest and busiest conference to date, with sold-out attendance, and more exhibitors, workshops, and meetups than ever. More than 450 community members representing 231 organizations from around the world came together in Folsom, California, to learn and to share the best ideas from their respective industries.
2017 marks our fifth year of ICC, and in our effort to make each ICC even better than the one before, we strived to provide our attendees with more in-depth content and more ways to connect with us and fellow Ignition users.
While we’d love to take credit for this success, it’s the Ignition community that has truly made ICC and Ignition into what they are today, as our CEO remarked in his keynote address. With the community-driven nature of ICC in mind, let’s take a look at this year’s key highlights.
Day One: Workshops, Meetups, and Food Trucks!
Day One of ICC focused on learning and sharing. There was a very high level of interest in this year’s workshops, particularly the ones about Python scripting and module development. This year also introduced a new workshop called “Bid Ignition for the Win — An Integrator's Guide to RFPs” that offered useful tips to help attendees win more bids.
Monday saw the return of the popular Industry Meetups, which we introduced last year. Facilitated by members of the Ignition community, meetups are a great way to network and share ideas within an industry. This year, we held meetups for oil & gas, manufacturing, food processing, water/wastewater, power & utilities, and beverage & brewing. Each of these meetups was well-attended and community members engaged in lively discussion on the best practices within their industry.
As Monday came to a close, attendees were treated to a selection of the best food trucks in the Sacramento area. Attendees indulged in great tri-tip and BBQ from Buckhorn, grilled Asian-style skewers from Slightly Skewed, delicious burgers from Squeeze Inn, and amazing grilled sandwiches from Drewski's.
Day Two: Keynote and Breakout Sessions
Day Two greeted us with cooler weather, something that we’ve been looking forward to since our stretches of 100-degree-plus weather here in Northern California. That morning, the Harris Center roared to life as attendees filled the hall waiting to take their seats for the keynote general session. The keynote covered a lot of territory, highlighting the exciting direction of Inductive Automation. Some of those highlights are recapped below, and you can watch the full video to get all the details in their keynote glory.
Our founder and CEO, Steve Hechtman, addressed the questions of: What’s next? Where are we going? And, what we are still about? For those wondering about our future direction, Steve suggested they “extrapolate” the first 14 years to get an idea of what to expect for the next 14 years.
Steve explained that Inductive Automation started off with one employee in a 200-sq.-ft. office and one customer. Today, IA has more than 100 employees in a 22,000-sq.-ft. office with thousands of customers. Steve said that this tremendous growth has made it clear that our current office is no longer adequate, and so we are moving to a new 56,000-sq.-ft. building in late 2017/early 2018. Steve then showed a short video about the new building, which is currently being renovated.
Much of Steve’s emphasis remained on the core values of Inductive Automation. While this year’s theme was “Transform,” the company’s core values remain the same, and Steve assured the community that IA will continue to adhere to the Four Pillars (new technology, new licensing model, new business model, and new ethical model) for the next 14 years and beyond.
The co-directors of software engineering, Carl Gould and Colby Clegg, also emphasized the company’s commitment to the Four Pillars and its core values. They also expressed that what makes the Ignition platform great is the people who build incredible projects with it. Carl and Colby then addressed the openness of Ignition and the importance of its modular architecture, which allows for its extensibility and compatibility with other systems.
The main takeaway from Carl and Colby’s presentation was the Platform Promise, which is made up of security, stability, consistency, and speed. They said that these four points will help guide us in continuing to provide Ignition users with the best platform for building industrial applications.
Chief Strategy Officer Don Pearson then dove into the theme “Transform” and reflected on the evolution of ICC since its beginning in 2013. He covered the transformation that is happening in the general economy with the ongoing shift from “Push” to “Pull” business models, and in the industrial controls industry with Big Data and Big Access on the horizon. According to industry research, many organizations are not prepared to tackle the technological shift and could become “digital laggards,” resulting in low margins, weak innovation power, slow profits, and even disappearance from the market.
Don then highlighted six core success factors necessary for transformation: 1) Decouple devices from applications, 2) use a superior OT solution, 3) make the device the single source of truth, 4) provide plug-and-play functionality, 5) eliminate cutovers, and 6) scale with unlimited licensing. These six factors facilitate the convergence of OT and IT, enabling users to connect their whole enterprise.
This OT-IT convergence is facilitating a trend of collaboration among organizations and thought leaders in the industry. Don alluded to “The Network Effect” and the power of the collaborative effort to transform an industry and to develop greater value, which is why the Ignition community and Ignition ecosystem are both rapidly growing.
With the release of Ignition Edge, incredible opportunities are now available to customers, strategic partners, and collaborating organizations, leading to further growth of the Ignition ecosystem. Travis Cox, co-director of sales engineering, focused on this area in his presentation.
Travis attributed this growth to the amazing work the community is doing. He explained how integrators, industrial organizations, third-party module authors, the press, consultants, collaborating companies, strategic partners, and the IA team all play roles in this great community, and are instrumental to the success of Ignition and the growth of the Ignition ecosystem.
The culmination of all this effort by the community has led to an important development: the introduction of the Ignition Onboard program. The new program offers users an all-in-one solution that is less expensive, fully integrated, plug-and-play, open and interoperable, and easier to install, manage, and maintain. The program enables collaborating hardware companies to pre-install Ignition and Ignition Edge onto edge devices. Opto 22 and Hilscher are the first companies to be “Onboard” with Ignition, with more vendors expected to follow.
Another highlight of Day Two was “Building Enterprise MES Solutions with the Sepasoft 2.0 Modules,” a breakout session presented by our strategic third-party module partner Sepasoft. Tom Hechtman and Jason Coope from Sepasoft gave overviews and demos of the new, eagerly awaited MES 2.0 platform, OEE Downtime 2.0 Module, and more. As one attendee tweeted:
MES 2.0, wooohoooooo! #sepasoft @InductiveAuto #ICCTransform pic.twitter.com/x6j9fqrIIu— Roy Westwood (@accyroy) September 19, 2017
The rest of Day Two was filled with other great sessions either presented by IA staff or members of the Ignition community. They covered a wide range of topics, including building scalable enterprise architectures, transforming food processing by bridging IT and OT, learning Ignition fundamentals, protecting your Ignition system, building user-friendly HMIs, and several others.
As the day winded down, attendees gathered near our current corporate office for a special dinner featuring a culinary hallmark of the Sacramento region: farm-to-fork cuisine. The occasion not only provided attendees with a delicious meal made with fresh ingredients sourced from local farms, but also a great atmosphere to talk, tell stories, and share ideas. While ICC offered many networking opportunities, the dinner helped attendees connect with each other on a more personal level.
Day Three: Developer Panel, More Sessions, and Firebrand Awards
The final day of ICC 2017 started with Carl and Colby’s developer panel session, providing updates about Ignition and answering questions from the audience. Some of the highlights include the recently released v.7.9.4 which added new features like named queries and client security settings, the incredible response to Ignition Edge, and a look ahead at the next major release, Ignition 8.0.
Carl and Colby touched upon some of the features they plan to improve in Ignition 8.0, such as tag performance, redundancy, security, script authoring, version control, and document-based storage support. Beyond 8.0, Carl and Colby alluded to refreshing the tag history system and a new version of the Enterprise Administration Module.
Like Day Two, Day Three featured great sessions either presented by IA staff or members from the Ignition community, which included such wide-ranging topics as using Ignition to transform water/wastewater operations, innovating new food-processing solutions, troubleshooting, distributed Gateway architectures for oil & gas enterprises, compliance, and machine learning, among others.
Day Two featured another well-received breakout session from one of our strategic third-partner module partners; this time it was “Big Access: Unleashing the Real Value of Your IIoT Data,” presented by Cirrus Link Solutions President and MQTT co-inventor Arlen Nipper. Arlen stressed that you can’t benefit from Big Data or IIoT without a best-in-class operational system, and that organizations should empower OT with tools and technology for an OT-to-IT migration. He also talked about Cirrus Link’s new Cloud Modules for Ignition: the AWS Injector Module and Azure Injector Module.
ICC 2017 concluded with the Ignition Firebrand Awards Panel, which highlighted the best Ignition projects submitted by the Ignition community. Each award winner exemplified excellence in using Ignition in their respective industry. The panel of representatives from award-winning companies were also asked questions about their projects, illuminating their successes and any challenges they faced.
The six winners of the Ignition Firebrand Awards are: Click on the links below to get a closer look are their projects.
- Bouygues Energies & Services
- Eramosa Engineering
- Magnetrol International Inc.
- Miller Eads Company
- SugarCreek Packing Co
Over the last five years, ICC has been a great sounding board for us. We have been fortunate to meet face-to-face with the Ignition community to hear their triumphs and frustrations. We are delighted to hear the amazing accomplishments, innovations, and solutions that integrators and end users are able to achieve. We also appreciate the opportunity to hear about what we can do better in order to make Ignition as powerful and useful as it can be.
We’d like to thank the entire Ignition Community for helping us to succeed by using our software to innovate new solutions for today’s industrial problems. Thank you for making ICC 2017 the best yet, and we look forward to seeing the community again at ICC 2018.