Ignition Cloud Edition struck the AWS Marketplace in May like a lightning bolt and now its arrival in the Azure Marketplace completes the release with a trailing thunderclap. I think one of our partners, 4IR, said it best: "Ignition Cloud Edition completes the three-pronged vision of Ignition 'everywhere,'" says James Burnand, the CEO of 4IR Solutions, an Inductive Automation Solution Partner. "The idea of Ignition at every level — from edge, to on-prem, to the cloud — creates a high level of usability and consistency of data modeling and makes two-way communication with enterprise databases, message brokers, data lakes and analytics tools a simple reality."
Even with such an electric atmosphere, some people still have lingering questions about Cloud Edition, the most common of which is, “Organizations have been using Ignition in the cloud for years. Do I really need a separate version?”
The short answer is: It depends. The long answer has to do with how closely Cloud Edition aligns with your organization’s objectives, strategies, and resources. But a clear understanding of where Ignition Cloud Edition and standard Ignition diverge will make answering that question much easier.
What Makes Ignition Cloud Edition Different?
Ignition Cloud Edition delivers much of the same functionality that you’ve come to expect from Ignition, with a few critical differences in features, pricing, architecture, and modules.
When you purchase Cloud Edition from the AWS or Azure marketplaces and spin it up, the actual instance of Ignition is deployed directly through your preferred cloud provider without involvement from Inductive Automation. This cloud-direct deployment method increases scaling flexibility, letting you increase or decrease the size of your instance as you adjust to changing requirements or dial in setpoints. It also gives you the freedom to simply try out Cloud Edition and fine-tune the amount of memory and compute speed as you go.
Because the instance comes from your cloud provider, you can also connect from your Cloud Edition instance to their “nearby” cloud-native offerings with low latency and high throughput for services like AI, machine learning, predictive analytics, and more. You can also run Cloud Edition in virtual machines right now, or with container support just on the horizon.
Whereas Ignition is sold by the license, Cloud Edition has a pay-as-you-go model, so you only pay for how much you use. However, if your organization does need to run Cloud Edition 24/7/365, you can also pay for an annual subscription, saving 35% off the standard pay-as-you-go price.
Cloud Edition’s deployment method gives you the opportunity to more easily leverage hybrid architectures, combining your on-premises operations with the server capacity of leading cloud providers. Since Cloud Edition is intended to run in the cloud, it doesn’t ship with any native PLC or device drivers, but does have MQTT and OPC UA server and client connectivity built in.
If you’ve ever purchased Ignition, you have no doubt spent plenty of time mulling over which modules to include in your system. Cloud Edition opts instead to include a host of pre-curated, pre-loaded modules including Perspective, MQTT modules, the new cloud connector modules, and more. See the full Cloud Edition module list here.
Which Ignition Edition Is Right for Your Organization?
So we return to the original question: Which edition of Ignition should you use?
When to Use Ignition Cloud Edition
Ignition Cloud Edition is a good choice if your budget works best with its cloud-based pay-as-you-go model and the modules you need are included as part of its module set. It’s often a perfect choice for adding a cloud system to an existing on-premises Ignition installation, and the annual pricing can help you to save while still taking full advantage of your cloud provider’s compute power.
With its set of locked-in Inductive Automation modules, Cloud Edition delivers consistent, wide-ranging functionality. It is worth noting that while you cannot add additional IA modules, you can add third-party modules like those available from our Solution Partner Sepasoft.
Use Cloud Edition if you value quick, simple deployment. For larger architectures in the cloud, Cloud Edition is a great choice for things like auto-scaling groups to support thousands of simultaneous Perspective sessions. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming CloudFormation templates which will make scale out architectures and load balancing configurations almost automatic.
When to Use Standard Ignition in the Cloud
Use standard Ignition in the cloud when you want to purchase an up-front perpetual license. This is the classic Ignition setup: one license for one server and then all limits are off.
If you would like to select the specific modules you need for a given project (and have the option to add more later), standard Ignition in the cloud is the correct choice. Also, if you are a diehard Vision Module user, you’ll want to stick with standard Ignition because Cloud Edition includes Perspective and not Vision for visualization.
With standard Ignition, you can still deploy the cloud VMs of your choice from your cloud provider, install Ignition, and configure the system yourself. Standard Ignition in the cloud also allows for local connections to “nearby” services just like Cloud Edition, providing low latency and simpler architectures.
When to Use Either
No matter which way you choose to use Ignition in the cloud, both standard Ignition and Ignition Cloud Edition provide you with the same great unlimited model for tags, views, clients, etc. that are so integral to the core Ignition philosophy. In terms of functionality, the choice of which Ignition edition to use is a win-win proposition.
Use either standard Ignition or Ignition Cloud Edition to connect with cloud services. Either edition also gives you access to the new cloud connector modules. All cloud connector modules from Inductive Automation are included in Cloud Edition (along with new connector modules when they are released). With standard Ignition, if you’d like these modules they will need to be purchased with your license, just like any other IA module.
Speaking of choice, there is still a level of organizational responsibility at play here. Neither edition is Software as a Service (SaaS) — you still need to have your own cloud account with one of the cloud providers, and maintain the virtual network, security, patches, upgrades, and backups.
Still Need Help?
If after reading all that you’re still not sure, Inductive Automation Solution Partner 4IR Solutions is ready to help. Not only can 4IR consult on which version of Ignition in the cloud is right for your organization, they can also provide Ignition as a fully managed service. 4IR's two solutions, FactoryStack and PharmaStack, offer managed Ignition solutions in the cloud that include a time-series database, automated version control, and everything you need to run a scalable, production-grade Ignition system out of the box, with very little cloud expertise needed. In their own words: "We offer peace of mind by monitoring your critical infrastructure 24/7 and providing hassle-free maintenance that includes upgrades, patching, and backups," shares 4IR Solutions CTO Joseph Dolivo.
Elevate Your System
As the automation industry continues to innovate, both standard Ignition and Cloud Edition give you all the tools to elevate your system.