New Possibilities at the Edge

With the New Ignition Edge and Ignition Cloud Edition Multi-Tenant Applications

47 min video  /  45 minute read Download PDF


Kent Melville

Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

As industrial organizations do more at the edge of the network, important new questions are arising. What is the relationship between edge systems and centralized systems? What can you do at the edge that you couldn’t do before? How can you use the edge with the cloud effectively?

In this webinar, we’ll explore questions like these as we discuss the newly updated Ignition Edge product line and the types of powerful architectures that you can build with it. You’ll also hear about combining Ignition Edge with Ignition Cloud Edition’s new multi-tenant licensing option. Join us to expand your understanding of the industrial edge!

  • Learn about data storage & logic at the edge
  • Find out about adding IIoT to existing SCADA
  • Hear about managing & scaling out edge gateways
  • Get live answers to edge-related questions


Kent Melville: Hello. Welcome to today's webinar, "New Possibilities at the Edge with the New Ignition Edge and Ignition Cloud Edition Multi-Tenant Applications." I'm Kent Melville, Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation, and I'll be the moderator for today's webinar.

Kent Melville: So what's on the agenda? Well, we have, first, the new simplified Ignition Edge updates, and we'll talk about the differences between Ignition Edge and standard edition, and then also about Ignition Edge architectures that you can use with Ignition Edge or a combination of Ignition Edge and standard edition. Then we'll talk about Ignition Edge with Cloud Edition multi-tenant functionality and the architectures that you can create with that. And we will end with some audience Q&A, as always. So if you have questions as we go along, just type them into the questions area of the GoToWebinar control panel, and I'll answer as many of them as I can. If I'm unable to get to your question today, please do reach out to one of our knowledgeable account representatives who can get you an answer. Also, this webinar and the webinar slides will be made available within the next few days. If you want to go over any of it again, share with someone else who wasn't able to make it, or just refer back to a link or a URL.

Kent Melville: Alright. So, first off, we always talk about, what is Ignition. Here's a quick summary for you. Ignition is a universal industrial application platform for HMI, SCADA, MES, and IIoT, used by 57% of the Fortune 100. We're pretty proud of that. And it acts as a central hub for everything on the plant floor and beyond. You can use it to create any kind of industrial application, and people like it because it's web-based, web-managed, and web-deployed, has an unlimited licensing model, and is cross-platform, running on Windows, Linux, Mac, whatever you want. It offers industrial strength security, and stability, and is trusted by thousands of companies worldwide.

Kent Melville: Ignition was first released in 2010. Since then, we've expanded what Ignition can do and where you can leverage it in your enterprise. It really all started with standard Ignition, which is kind of that middle layer you're seeing on the screen here. And that was intended to be used on premise, on the plant floor. And it supports a full range of drivers and tools to connect any device and develop applications for SCADA, HMI, MES, and more. That was the only edition that we had for a long time, just Ignition.

Kent Melville: And over time, people started asking for something more purpose-built, something that wasn't just focused on being unlimited, but instead was focused on running at the edge of the network and something that would run on embedded devices, offer edge computing and data collection from remote sites, and be ideal for lightweight applications at an appropriate price point. And so, we released Ignition Edge maybe six years ago. I don't remember exactly, but it's been very popular ever since. And so it's been fun to see people leverage Ignition Edge to collect data, provide local visualization, and also then to send that data up to standard Ignition for more complete applications.

Kent Melville: And that got us by for a long time. But more recently, we rolled out Ignition Cloud Edition. And what's that for? You guessed it, it's for the cloud. And so, now, you can deploy Ignition directly in AWS or Azure directly in their marketplace. And it leverages the power of these large cloud platforms, taps into additional services and flexibility that the cloud offers, and also opens the door for easier hybrid architectures. Most people are not running Ignition solely in the cloud; they're leveraging Cloud Edition for centralized data, but then it's also connected up to some local presence of Ignition, whether that's standard Ignition or Ignition Edge.

Kent Melville: So, now, we've kind of seen where Edge fits into our stack. Let's talk about how it's changed over time. Because until recently, we had five different Edge products, and those were Ignition Edge IIoT, Ignition Edge Panel, Ignition Edge Compute, Ignition Edge Sync Services, and Ignition Edge EAM. And what was interesting about these Edge products is that they all had different functionality and you could mix and match, meaning that rarely would people buy just one of these. They'd buy some collection of these to get the functionality that they needed to deploy at the Edge. And there was a little complexity inherent in that and having to understand all five of these products and which of the five you had, and all that kind of stuff, and which ones you needed for your application. And so, we recently simplified Ignition Edge into two products.

Kent Melville: So now we have Ignition Edge IIoT and Ignition Edge Panel. And the capabilities of Edge Compute, Edge Sync Services, and Edge EAM all now are included in what was originally Edge IIoT. And so if you look at four of these products, Edge IIoT, and then skip Panel. But the next three, Compute, Sync Services, and EAM, those are now all included if you buy Ignition Edge IIoT.

Kent Melville: And that's not all that we changed. We also said as part of that, originally, there was a two-device limitation, and we decided to scratch that limitation and just say it's now unlimited. You can connect to as many devices as you want. And also, for people that are collecting data, there was a seven-day limit so that you could only buffer data and then forward that data to a centralized system. And the centralized system is where you would store long-term data. And another change we made is we said this data buffer would be more valuable if it could hold at least a month's worth of data. There's a lot of applications out there that require a month of data. And so, now, instead of being limited to seven days, it's limited to 35 days.

Kent Melville: You also see Edge Panel there. Edge Panel includes everything that comes with Ignition Edge IIoT, but also adds visualization. And so that, once again, is kind of a departure from where I had to pick and choose what I wanted, and I had to buy multiple versions of Edge before to get what I wanted. Now, you'd only ever pick one or the other. Edge IIoT is going to include all the connectivity and the data migration to send all that data up to a centralized system. Edge Panel then adds visualization so you can also view all that data locally and do local control. But Edge Panel also includes all of that data collection and ability to publish that up to a centralized system over our gateway network or over MQTT.

Kent Melville: But because it included all those other modules as part of these now, that also gives you ability to run scripts, create REST APIs, act as an EAM agent gateway so that from a central server, you could remotely manage all of your Edge instances, and so on. And so, a lot of additional value that's just out of the box with these now. And we think it'll be a simpler process for people trying to figure out how to leverage Edge in their architectures. Now, it's not so many different products to pick and choose from; it's two products, and they just kind of have all the functionality you need.

Kent Melville: I wanted to highlight, we call this Ignition IIoT for a reason, and that's because it allows you to tie in with the Ignition IIoT solutions that we talked about on our website, meaning that it can publish data up over MQTT in that Sparkplug format, then connect to our MQTT brokers we have through Cirrus Link or third-party brokers, bring all that data in at the central level. And because of that, yeah, it's compatible with Ignition centrally as an IIoT platform, but also can connect to third-party IIoT platforms. And so, really, Ignition Edge IIoT turns your devices into lightweight MQTT-enabled edge gateways so they can pull data from devices and then publish that up to an MQTT server for your systems and applications to assess.

Kent Melville: We talked about Edge Panel, and adding that visualization really makes a world of a difference as far as what you can start doing with the product. And so, what's included with that, when we say you add visualization? So we have two modules that do visualization. We have our Vision Module that we've had for a long time, and we have our Perspective Module, which I used to always call "the new module". I'm trying to get out of the habit of calling it new anymore 'cause we've had it for five years. But we also have Perspective, and Edge supports both. So you can decide whether you're going to have it support Perspective or Vision. It's just a little drop-down in the configuration. And if you choose Perspective, you get two sessions; with Vision, you get two clients, one local and remote. And really, that's intended to be, I'm running Edge on a local panel, but you also get one bonus client to view somewhere else on your network.

Kent Melville: It's good for standalone HMIs. It's also good if you are normally running a client off a central server, but you need local client fallback so that if you lose a connection to that central server, you've got that fallback local HMI while still having all the abilities to publish that data up over MQTT or our gateway network.

Kent Melville: There's a couple reasons that we really decided to simplify Ignition Edge. The main reasons were that we felt that the product options were overly complex, and it made it difficult for customers to choose the right solutions and, to be honest, for us to help them through that process. We spent a lot of time talking about Edge and what's right for them, and we just wanted to make that simpler. And also, Edge was starting to look more like a modular platform to us, which is really what standard Ignition is supposed to be. Standard Ignition is modular in that you can pick and choose exactly what you need. And we really intended Ignition Edge to be more purpose-built. And so, this is putting it more in line with what the original intent of Ignition Edge was.

Kent Melville: And even though we've expanded some of the capabilities of Ignition Edge, like the unlimited devices and the internal tag historian, and others, there's some clear limitations to Ignition Edge that will keep you from using it as a primary system, 'cause it's not a full SCADA system. The first is that Ignition Edge is more focused on just data connectivity and then forwarding that to a centralized system. It's not really going to work as a full standalone historian because it's not designed for long-term storage. It doesn't have long enough data retention. But we are excited that it is now expanded to 35 days.

Kent Melville: Ignition Edge also is not designed to run an entire facility. It's really for single-panel displays with that bonus display I talked about. And so, Ignition Edge does not support adding additional modules like standard Ignition does. So you couldn't add like the Reporting Module, or you couldn't add the Twilio Module for alarm notification. You can't do that kind of stuff. And so, really, it's just you look at the functionality that's provided, and if that fits your application, then that's great. If it doesn't, that's fine. Use standard edition, then you can go and pick and choose exactly what you need.

Kent Melville: And so here are some questions that you could ask yourself when trying to decide which one is right for your application. Do you need access to a database? If the answer is yes, then standard Ignition is the way to go, because Ignition Edge does not allow you to connect to a local database. Now, it can forward data up to a centralized system, which could then log the data to a database, but it doesn't directly connect to that database. Another question you could ask is, do I need more than two sessions or clients, and how could I add more? The answer is if you need more than two, once again, standard Ignition is the right thing for you. But if two is going to be sufficient, then Edge is great. But no, you cannot pay for additional sessions or clients on Ignition Edge. You would have to be using standard Ignition.

Kent Melville: Next question: Do you just need a local HMI or a fallback client in the field? If that's your question, then the answer is Ignition Edge would be a great fit. If you just need that local HMI, standard Ignition may be overkill. And so Ignition Edge can connect to that local equipment, and if it loses connectivity, you still have that visualization local without any connectivity to a central server. And in a similar vein, are you looking for a local data buffer next to a critical piece of equipment? So not just do I need local visualization, even if I lose my connection to a central gateway, but do I need to make sure I keep collecting data if I lose a connection to a central gateway? If the answer is yes, Ignition Edge is a great fit as well, because it can be directly connected to that device, direct Ethernet connection. And it can just be polling that data and have that 35-day buffer, so as long as you get back connected to a centralized system within 35 days, you're not going to lose any data.

Kent Melville: So with that, let's talk about some architectures. So, the new Ignition Edge enables multiple architectures for you to use for different possible situations. And the first architecture we're going to look at is Ignition Edge with Central Ignition SCADA. And so, this architecture can have multiple facilities or locations, with the central Ignition gateway connected to everything and Ignition Edge on premise at each site to collect data and publish it centrally. So what that really looks like here is you can see PLCs, and I've got one site that's got a group of PLCs, and I've got another site that has another set of PLCs, and I've got Ignition Edge there locally talking to each of these, and you can picture this as Ignition Edge IIoT. So it's got that data connectivity to talk to the different PLCs and publish that data up to a centralized server. And do I have visualization at the sites? I can if I'm connected up to the central server, but if I lose that connection to the central server, I'm also going to lose my local clients.

Kent Melville: But because I've got Ignition Edge IIoT, I'm not losing data. I'm still collecting data. And when the connection is restored to the central server, all that data will forward up to the server and backfill our SQL database. This really helps solve one of the hurdles that you see in regulated industries, where like oil & gas or water/wastewater, where collecting data on-site and storing data is not just a nice to have; it may be dictated by different regulations and laws. And so, a lot of those have regulations about having up to a one-month data buffer. That was a big motivation for us to increase from the seven-day buffer. But yeah, so we really see this as being an enabler for those kind of architectures. And it's worth noting that Ignition Edge Panel could also be used in this case, but with one difference.

Kent Melville: So if I come to the next slide here, now, instead of my local clients only working if they have a connection to the central server, if I have Edge Panel, I still have the local data collection, can still do store and forward buffer to backfill my SQL database. But now, if I lose my connection, I also still have a local client that I can use to control my PLCs. And so, that's really the main difference, is whether or not you need that local HMI independent of a central server.

Kent Melville: Now, does that mean the Edge Panel is only useful if I have a central server? No, it can still act as just a local HMI that doesn't actually forward the data anywhere, but it'll always have those capabilities so that if you added a central server in the future or an MQTT server, you'd be able to publish that data up, but certainly, can just act as a standalone HMI as well.

Kent Melville: Now, Ignition Edge IIoT and Edge Panel both come with all the different functionalities that we talked about that were in the other modules, the helper modules. And so, with that, we bring in what was Edge Compute before. And that brings up another architecture that's interesting, which is, I don't just need to be worried about my local data collection, I don't need to just be worried about my local visualization, but I also have some logic that I need to execute. And if I lose a connection to my central server, I still need to make sure that that logic executes. And Edge Compute provided Python scripting at the edge. And so now that is included with both Edge IIoT and Edge Panel.

Kent Melville: And so you could picture I've got an irrigation system, and I need to make sure that my irrigation always runs, but my connectivity out into the field is inconsistent. And so now, essentially, maybe I still manage what those are, but then I push down my schedules to the edge and then they can run there locally, or whatever other logic you might want to think of. So, I'll tag change scripts. It could also be used if you had... Because you might say like, "Well, I would just put that logic in the PLC." But sometimes people have multiple different brands of PLCs, and they need something that's coordinating across those different kinds of PLCs, or they just like the logic that they can define inside Python rather than writing it in ladder logic or something like that. And so, this Edge Compute option now being included by default into all the Edge offerings really makes that an easy experience.

Kent Melville: Now, does that mean I'm advocating that you move all of your logic out of the PLC into Ignition Edge? No. Obviously, it makes sense to keep most of your logic in the PLC, but this gives you a great option for when you need something above and beyond that.

Kent Melville: Both Edge IIoT and Edge Panel also come with the Enterprise Administration Module now, or EAM, and that allows you to automate management for multiple Edge sites from a central Ignition system. And so, with EAM, you can define your central Ignition gateway as the EAM controller, and all of your Edge devices are gateways as EAM agents. And those with support licenses get all this added for free, so you don't have to pay for this in addition, even if you already have Edge today. And this allows you to remotely monitor the health of your Ignition Edge servers, push out project updates, and more. And so, I think that this is a huge value-add to people who just even have standalone panels or have all these data collectors out there. Every time you need to go upgrade those, instead of having to go log in each one individually, you just log in the central gateway and create a task, and push it out, and you're done.

Kent Melville: Or if you needed to onboard a new device, it automatically takes the backups. You just go plug in the new device, connect to the central Ignition gateway, and it can just go restore the backup. Your backup and running. So, super valuable to have this Enterprise Administration Module.

Kent Melville: But we've been talking about Edge for a while now. I know some of you are here because you wanted to hear about Cloud Edition and multi-tenant. And so, we're going to talk about that here. I did forget, I was going to mention, I started to mention this in the last slide. What if I already have Ignition Edge? What's the conversion process to the new versions of Edge? Is that free, is there a cost? All that kind of stuff. Those are all good questions. To really help you with any complexity there, we do encourage you to reach out to your account executive, and they can help you through that process. But at a high level, we want to reward people who are on support contracts. And so, the people who are on support contracts, if you already had Panel and IIoT with any of the other products, you'll get the new Panel that has everything included for free. But what if I didn't have EAM, or I didn't have Edge Compute, or Sync Services? Doesn't matter. You'll get those all added for free.

Kent Melville: What if I had just Panel, but I didn't have IIoT? Then we'll add Sync Services and Compute and EAM for free. Those will come now just with your Panel, and you'll get the changes to like, unlimited devices. But if you wanted to add the IIoT piece of it, then there's going to be a little cost that gets added to that.

Kent Melville: I think this is supposed to show a little bit farther down here. I think this is cut off, but also, if you had just IIoT but not Panel, then to upgrade to the full panel, then you'd have to pay for the difference there of what it'd be to go from IIoT to Panel. And so if you just have IIoT, though, with a support contract, all those other products will just be added to you as well. So yeah, we're trying to make it simple. If you're not on a support contract, there'll be a slight upgrade fee, but it comes at a discount. But like I said, just reach out to your account executive and they can help you through all that. There is bulk discounts for Edge. If you have a big application that you think this would be a good fit for, we'd love to make sure the pricing is going to work out for you and this should really help.

Kent Melville: Alright. Like I said, you wanted to talk about Cloud Edition, you want to talk about multi-tenant. To start off, it's worth noting that multi-tenant is not a new concept, but is newly allowed. We've had people for years asking us if they can do multi-tenant, and we've never really had a great way to do it. And so, Cloud Edition came out and we realized that this could be finally the answer we were looking for to really make this feasible.

Kent Melville: We talk about Ignition Cloud Edition as an enterprise solution for cloud computing that you can get from AWS or Azure cloud marketplaces. What's different about it from standard Ignition is that rather than buying your license upfront and it being a perpetual license, it is a pay-as-you-go service, meaning that you just pay for your usage. And also, you pay based on the size of the instance you're running. Now, before you're like, "Wait, Inductive Automation is changing everything to a subscription model?" The answer to that is no. We have different editions; Ignition Edge and standard Ignition are perpetual licensing. Currently, they don't even have a subscription option. But Cloud Edition is all a subscription model. And that's because you don't buy it directly from us; you buy it directly through the AWS or Azure marketplaces. It's a cloud-native product, and so you're going to pay for it in a cloud-native way. And so, it just represents a different model.

Kent Melville: But what is multi-tenancy? Multi-tenancy is saying, "I've got multiple customers." So say I'm an integrator and I want to provide irrigation solutions. We talked about irrigation. And I want to go and talk to different farming customers, ranchers, whatever, and I want to sell them a solution about irrigation, but to sell them a full Ignition SCADA system might be cost-prohibitive 'cause they're not running a whole facility; they are just trying to do this purpose-built thing, this purposeful action.

Kent Melville: And so, you could say, "Well, conceivably, they're only going to have a few users, and it's a pretty cookie-cutter application. What if I just built something in Ignition that was a generic irrigation tool, and then I had multiple customers connect to their equipment, bring all that data into one Ignition server or one Ignition architecture, and then allow customers, and these different customers, all to log into that same system and run their own equipment?" It would certainly be cheaper 'cause now each customer is not having to pay for their own Ignition server. I can, just as a service provider, buy one license, and then I can just make sure that I'm appropriately segregating my customers' data, and I'm managing the user access so they only have access to their data, and all that kind of stuff.

Kent Melville: But how did I then charge my customers? Usually it's a subscription where they subscribe to the service, and now, they can log in and they could pay by user or by data usage, or ports, or however you want to do it. But you're able to provide a lower-cost solution to these customers because your cost of Ignition is lower because you're doing this shared environment. And so, for a long time, we've said, "No, you can't do that with Ignition, because you're buying a perpetual license, and that's intended for a single user to use." And it was against our license agreement to do multi-tenant.

Kent Melville: But as we looked at Cloud Edition, we said, "Cloud Edition is already a subscription model where you pay by usage." And so now, if an integrator or some other business wanted to create this application and to charge their customers based on usage, then we would also get paid based on usage. And as they add more customers, they may get a bigger instance of Cloud Edition, or they might scale out to multiple back-end and front-end servers. And so it's a win-win, where they can keep adding customers, but we can keep seeing revenue. It just makes sense for everybody. And so, when we realized that, we said, "Alright, multi-tenant is fair game."

Kent Melville: So for Cloud Edition specifically, anybody could go and create an application and sell it however they want to to their customers. And that also means, now, if you're an end user and you are interested in some purpose-built application but you're not you don't have the budget for a full SCADA system, you could look for one of these multi-tenant solutions out there to see if you could to be able to get the benefits of Ignition but at a lower cost.

Kent Melville: And so why do we do this? Well, we really believe that there's more innovation when our customer is able to do whatever they want with fewer restrictions. And like I said, people have been asking for multi-tenant for a long time. We haven't been able to support it well. And so, we wanted to get rid of that limitation and allow people who wanted to build multi-tenant applications to do so, to build custom-hosted applications on top of Ignition. And Cloud Edition really represents the best place to do that because of the flexibility and accessibility in the cloud and that usage-based pricing model.

Kent Melville: And so, now, a company such as an integrator can build an application in Ignition, sell it as a service to their customers, and can host multiple customers on the same Ignition server, and organizations with common challenges can search for multi-tenant applications that provide the functionality they need at a cheaper price. And so, this will be especially helpful for certain industries or businesses with common challenges. I don't know that there'll be a lot of multi-tenant that'll be for highly specialized niche industries. It'll be more for generic industries that are trying to solve the same problems. Now, we anticipate that the multi-tenant options will mostly be relatively cookie-cutter 'cause that allows them to scale the best. It won't be people saying, "Oh, well, I'm going to build you a full SCADA system, and now I'm going to build a new custom full SCADA system for another customer on the same gateway." That's not really what this is intended for. If it's a complete custom application, it should have its own dedicated server.

Kent Melville: Let's look at an example. Deep Fork Automation is an Ignition Gold-Certified Integrator, and they work in the oil & gas space. And these are some screens from their oil wells that they help manage. And so, they've built out a multi-tenant system inside Ignition where they can manage oil wells for multiple oil & gas customers. And so, this is something where lots of their customers have the same types of equipment at these oil wells. They're looking for the same kind of metrics. They want to collect the same type of data. And so, they've created this dynamic application in Ignition where it's based on customers and then based on areas and routes and wells. So then, when a customer of theirs logs in, they only see their areas, and they can go and see their wells and see all of their metrics, but they don't see anybody else's. So they can keep adding customers to have other oil wells and add them to the same Ignition server. And when they hit a certain point where that exceeds the load that a single server can handle, they can spin up additional instances.

Kent Melville: And so, you can see within their application here, going into details on the metering. They can also go and pull up pop-ups as they go through and look at all these different meter paths and everything and see that last day responsive and all that kind of stuff, see the flow rate, see the volume yesterday and today. And so, this was a good application that solved a real need that customers had but that they could do it in kind of a cookie-cutter way so that it was easy to service multiple customers from the same type of project. Really wanted to shout out Deep Fork for giving us permission to share their screens. Great company, and we're really excited about what they're doing with Ignition.

Kent Melville: And so, we talked about both multi-tenant applications leveraging Cloud Edition, as well as the new Ignition Edge. What do these two products have to do with each other? Why are we talking about them in the same webinar? Well, combining the power of Ignition Edge with Cloud Edition multi-tenant functionality lets you build scalable solutions with unlimited tags and connections from the edge, connect it up to a centralized cloud system for wider data access. What I really mean by that is, you could picture, if I've got here in kind of the pink area, I've got a full Ignition server; it's a redundant pair with a centralized database. And if I said, "Alright, I'm going to manage a bunch of customer sites," well, this blue area here represents a customer site that has individual PLCs. And those individual PLCs, let's say they're Allen-Bradley. So, now, from Cloud Edition, I'm supposed to connect to these PLCs? How? Do I need to set up some VPN tunnel from the cloud directly to these PLCs to pull?

Kent Melville: Also, because if I try to just expose my PLCs to the internet, they don't support encryption or even authentication most of the time, and so, it's a huge security vulnerability to expose your PLCs in such a way that the cloud can easily connect. Because we don't want people doing that, Cloud Edition doesn't even come with direct device drivers. We don't want people that are trying to pull from the cloud directly to PLCs, especially to multiple customer sites. And so, how do you get around that? Well, you can see in the green box there, we have Ignition Edge. And if I had Ignition Edge there, I could be pulling the PLCs locally and then just publishing the data up to the cloud. And now I could do that over our gateway network or MQTT, both which support encryption, support user authentication, and all the modern security practices.

Kent Melville: And so, really, if you're trying to do multi-tenant, having some local presence really helps make it a more robust solution. And so, you could picture, I've got an Ignition Edge gateway at each of my oil wells that's collecting the data, publishing it to a centralized system. And now, multi-tenant makes more sense. And so, really, we see these two solutions being very relevant together. Now, does that mean that you'll always have to have Ignition Edge? Not necessarily. It could be that the data is being published up in some other way, whether some other tool that's publishing the data from customer sites, and then Cloud Edition is able to access that. But it just won't be direct PLC pulling from an Ignition Cloud Edition gateway.

Kent Melville: And so, if you want to learn more about Ignition Edge on our website, you can go and check that out. And same thing for Cloud Edition. There's a link there. And like I said at the beginning, these slides will be made available. And so you'll be able to come and click these links, no problem. But then also, I wanted to highlight that with regard to multi-tenant functionality, we wrote an article about how to do this well. 'Cause you could imagine, just like I was talking about, you could try to set a multi-tenant where we're directly pulling the PLCs, or you could try to set it up where the customers log in and the data is not appropriately segregated and you'd accidentally access another customer's data, or something like that. And so, there are a lot of wrong ways that you could deploy a multi-tenant solution.

Kent Melville: And so, to make sure that customers did it the right way, we have this guide. And so that's what that last link is there. If you're interested in doing a multi-tenant product for your customers, please go read the guide. It talks about the shared responsibility model and who different roles would be filled by and your responsibilities, and makes a lot of recommendations about how you would segment your database structure and your project structure and how authentication will work and all that kind of stuff. And so, now, does that mean that we are accepting responsibility for every multi-tenant customer and whatever they decide to do? No. We're going to make sure that Ignition is robust. But if you're an end user considering to leverage a multi-tenant system provided by an integrator or somebody else, please do your due diligence. Make sure that they've deployed it in an appropriate way. Do any kind of analysis that you need to do to make sure you're not putting your data at risk.

Kent Melville: Certainly, we are available, if people have questions. We want to help this be successful for anybody who's interested. And so, check out the guide. And if you have more questions, please reach out to your account executive, and they can schedule a meeting with a sales engineer. And we're happy to talk to you about how this could work.

Kent Melville: If you're new to Ignition, as always, you can go to our website and download it. Start leveraging the free trial today. Only takes three minutes to download, and you can use that trial for as long as you want. And so, that way, you can just dive right in and start building some interesting, unique projects. We also want to tell you about Inductive University, which is free online training with hundreds of videos that can walk you through how to learn Ignition step-by-step at your own pace. And also, there's a comprehensive online user manual that you can refer to at any time.

Kent Melville: For those of you outside of North America, we want you to know that we have a network of international Ignition distributors who provide business development opportunities and sales and technical support in your language and time zone. And if you want to learn more about the distributor in your region, please visit their website listed there on the screen, or you can contact our International Distribution Manager, Igor Karnaukhov. Also, if you want to talk to us directly, you can get in touch with one of our account representatives here at our headquarters in California. And to do so, please just call 1-800-266-7798. And also, we did just open a new office in Australia. We're very excited about it. If you're trying to get in touch with them, please call 1300-10-8088.

Kent Melville: With that, let's get to the Q&A. And so, as a reminder, you can type in any questions into the questions area of the GoToWebinar control panel. I am pulling that up right now, and it looks like we've got several questions in there already. Please don't hesitate to go and write some questions in.

Kent Melville: First one, Jonah, thank you so much for saying great value updates by IA for their clients. We agree; we're excited about this. "Is there an Edge version of the Cirrus Link Engine and Distributor modules?" So engine and distributor are not included inside Edge IIoT. If you have an application in mind where you would like to use Engine and Distributor, please reach out to Cirrus Link, and they'd be happy to talk to you about how you could leverage that, because we do see some applications where people at the edge need to be able to have a local MQTT server so that they've got local MQTT clients publishing data to it, and then we re-publish that data up to some more centralized system, or that they just need to be able to subscribe to an MQTT server and bring in that data as well. So Ivan, great question. Talk to Cirrus Link, and they'll get you taken care of there.

Kent Melville: "Does Ignition Edge support Tag History Module or the Canary Module?" So Ignition Edge has the Tag Historian built in in the sense that you can go and configure history on tags, and you can view that data, if you've got Edge Panel directly on screen, and you can leverage all of our normal bindings and everything to view that data inside, like our Power Chart or a table or anything like that. But it's going to pull the data out of that 35-day buffer, and so you're not going to be able to see longer-term storage. That longer-term storage would have to be in the centralized system, but it'll go and store directly into the Tag Historian database you have configured there. For Ignition Edge, Edge does not directly connect to Canary, but... I was like, "Where'd my questions go?" People keep asking questions and automatically scroll down for me.

Kent Melville: The Canary Module is a module, and Edge doesn't allow you to add additional modules. And so, with that being said, you could add it to a centralized system, and so the data could flow from Edge to central Ignition and then out to Canary. So, certainly, there are ways to get it to a Canary historian, but it wouldn't be directly from Edge. Canary also supports MQTT, and so, while it's not as integrated as their module, you could also just publish the data up to a broker and then have Canary subscribe to the broker.

Kent Melville: "So, is it comparable to a PanelView Plus or other panels provided by companies like Rockwell Automation?" Edge is, from a functionality standpoint, comparable, but one major difference is that Edge does not include hardware. And so you're just getting the software, and you'd pair that with the hardware of your choice, which has several advantages. One is you can pick whatever size screen you want it to display on, and Ignition supports responsive design, and so you can, instead of picking just a small touch panel, you might want to display it on a big screen or something like that. Also, if supply-chain issues have hurt you as much as they've hurt a bunch of other people in the industry lately, then being able to just grab any off-the-shelf hardware and deploy it with Ignition Edge to have a local HMI can be really powerful. So, functionality-wise, yes, but the key difference there is what you get from us and what you would need to procure through another source.

Kent Melville: If you were looking for additional recommendations on hardware and stuff like that, in our Alliance Partner Program, we do have some great hardware vendors that could provide you panels and stuff with Ignition pre-installed. And also our solutions partner, Opto 22, their products were more on the Edge IIoT side, but they can provide that kind of functionality as well. That's a hardware-software solution together.

Kent Melville: And so, "Do you need special hardware?" Yeah, we just kinda talked about that. You can run it on whatever display you want. You don't need to buy some specific Ignition Edge hardware.

Kent Melville: "What device drivers are included in Edge versus standard?" Great question. So, both Edge and standard come with all of the drivers developed by Inductive Automation. So you're going to get your Modbus and your Allen-Bradley and Siemens and DNP3 and Omron and all that kind of stuff. One thing to note, the Cirrus Link drivers, just like you have to pay separately for those on standard Ignition, you also need to pay separately for the drivers made by Cirrus Link for Edge. And so the big one of note there would be the EFM driver. So if you're trying to talk to like a Emerson Rock device or a Total Flow, then that'll be an add-on cost to Edge. And they have different sizes of packages, meaning you can get it for just a handful of clients or a bunch of clients and stuff like that. So, those ones are handled a little differently than the ones that are just our normal PLC drivers. And those PLC drivers are unlimited. And those come with both standard Ignition and Ignition Edge.

Kent Melville: "How many tags or connections can Edge accommodate?" So, it used to be that there was... Edge has been unlimited from a tag standpoint for a long time, but it used to be limited to two device connections, or you could pay to get additional device connections. What we just talked about is with the new Edge, it's now unlimited connections, meaning, you can connect to as many PLCs as you want, and you can have as many tags as you want. So where's the limitation? The limitation is going to be on the hardware that you deploy it on. And so, if you pick to install this on a Raspberry Pi, you're only going to get a few thousand tags. If you do it on something much more robust, you could get a hundred thousand tags. So it just depends on what you install it on. But from a licensing perspective, there's no limit to the number of device connections or to the number of tags.

Kent Melville: "How are alarms or events handled at the edge? How can they be pushed to an enterprise gateway for visualization?" So now that all of the Edge gateways include what was Edge Sync Services, you can have alarms all be synced up with your tags up to a centralized system, and that'll just work automatically. Also, Edge includes one-way alarm notification via email, and so we can send out one-way email notifications. But if you were publishing out over MQTT, the alarm data is a little more complex. And so often, the alarms are defined at the central gateway. But if you have questions about setting up your architecture appropriately to make sure that your alarms get there automatically, feel free to reach out to us, and we can talk you through that architecture. But with Sync Services, alarm syncing is just out of the box. So now included with both IIoT and Panel.

Kent Melville: Let's see, where are we at here? "What about downgrading from a platform to Edge? Will you do that for free?" Talk to us. We certainly want to make sure the solution is right for you. I don't know why you would downgrade, but if you had a reason to, we're happy to talk to you about how to make it fair from a cost standpoint. So, please reach out to us.

Kent Melville: "Is the remote Ignition Edge gateway rated for outdoor applications?" The software, certainly. But like I said before, the hardware is something that you'd purchase on your own. And so, certainly, you can buy IP-rated hardware so you can deploy in all kinds of environments.

Kent Melville: "This can be used for bi-directional data flow, as in the ability to have SCADA functionality with control in the cloud." That's a great question, especially when you start talking about multi-tenant, and what are the ramifications of doing control in the cloud and actually controlling equipment onsite? Is it possible? Absolutely. The functionality is fully bi-directional. And if that answer scares you and you say, "We don't want connectivity in the cloud to be doing control to our equipment," that can also all be locked down. And you can also require it to be permissions-based, so certain users can have escalated privileges, but most users can't, or there's lots of ways to set that up. But yes, both over MQTT and our gateway network, you can have the cloud right down to local gateways on-premise. Oftentimes, when people are running in the cloud, they choose to do it all as read-only, and Ignition allows you to do so securely.

Kent Melville: "Do all clients see all applications in a shared tenant situation?" No, they don't need to. And so, there's different ways to set that up. Becca, that's a good question. We talked a little bit about that in our guide, but essentially, via DNS, you can set it up so that they just have a shared URL that they go to. And then, when they log in, it automatically directs them to just their application. They're not gonna see that other customers have their own applications or the names of those customers, or anything like that.

Kent Melville: Usually, people block access to the gateway webpage so that people aren't going through like the normal launching experience through design, through Ignition. They're doing it in Perspective, and so it's all happening in the browser, and people have direct links. Sometimes they even do separate subdomains for each customer, so customers have their own domain that they go and log into. But depends how big of a multi-tenant solution you're looking to do. But certainly, you can make it so that clients are only seeing their stuff, and they don't even have a concept that there are other people that are leveraging the same gateway.

Kent Melville: "Does Edge support containers if you want to run in Docker?" Yes. You can go on Docker Hub and you can grab our container image there, and it does support Ignition Edge. And so, yes, absolutely.

Kent Melville: Wow, so many questions here. "I want to use Ignition Cloud Edition with Ignition Edge on premise. When would I use Sync Services versus MQTT Transmission? Do they both provide the same functionality for getting data into Cloud Edition?" Benson, thanks for asking that question. At a high level, it's worth noting that both are provided now with Ignition Edge. So you can use either one, but when would you choose to use one versus the other? Our gateway network is really nice if you do need that alarm configuration, like we talked about, or if it's always going to be Ignition-to-Ignition connectivity, but the MQTT Transmission piece publishes the data up in a even lighter weight way.

Kent Melville: I would say that our gateway network is lightweight, and MQTT is ultra-lightweight. And also, it publishes it up into an MQTT server, where not only a central Ignition server could access it but other applications could subscribe to that data as well. And so now, you're in an open-source environment where other tools could be supporting that same protocol. So, our gateway network is a proprietary Ignition-to-Ignition protocol, whereas MQTT is a protocol for open source. Anybody can grab that and use it.

Kent Melville: Let's see other questions here; just have time for one or two more. "Is there a way for Edge to receive data from a central Ignition server, or is Edge only able to send data?" With the gateway... Well, with our gateway network or with MQTT, when you publish that data up, those same tags are writable, meaning you could write back to it. That's kind of the same architecture we talked about with Cloud Edition could write back if you allow write-backs. But they don't allow new tags to be sent down. It's not subscribing to it. It's publishing, but it can receive back data to the same tags that it's publishing on. So, it is bidirectional, but it's not a generic subscription to just anything. So it couldn't just subscribe to a broker and see all the tags from whatever system was publishing data up over MQTT. But if you do need that kind of functionality, feel free to reach out to Cirrus Link, and they can talk to you about how to do that.

Kent Melville: "Can Edge read files?" So Edge can pull in data via CSV or text files or whatever and parse that into tags and publish that data up, or collect photos and send those images up over MQTT. So yes, it can. And that's really one of the advantages that Edge Compute giving you the Python capabilities to do any kind of parsing that you need to do.

Kent Melville: People also ask about horizontal scaling, and load balancers, and all that stuff. Yes. Oftentimes, with multi-tenant, it won't end up being a single server. And so if you needed to have a scale-out architecture with multiple frontend servers behind a load balancer and actually is also a reverse proxy, yes, you can absolutely do all of that. So all of our standard recommendations for architectures apply. And so yes, you could have a horizontally scaled application in the cloud to host hundreds or thousands of customers on your multi-tenant solution.

Kent Melville: We are out of time. We did not get to all the questions. This is by far the most questions I've gotten in any webinar I've given. And so thank you, everybody, for your interest. And so, if we didn't get to your question today, please reach out to us, and we will be happy to talk to you. And so, to wrap this up here, wanted to highlight that on December 14th, we do have another webinar that is about Ignition and its usage in data centers. So please be sure to register for that one on our website. Until then, stay connected with us on social media and subscribe to our weekly newsfeed email. And you can also stay up-to-date with Ignition on our blog and also through articles, case studies, and more. But yeah, thanks so much for joining us today. Take care, and have a great day.

Posted on October 30, 2023