Enabling SCADA with an Open Architecture Development Platform and Flexible Licensing
2024-02-06 Stefan Bamberg
Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) came into play in the 1970’s with the emergence of microprocessors and PLCs as mechanisms to control and monitor automated processes. In the early 2000’s, industrial networks were enabled by the Internet, increasing interconnectivity of geographically dispersed systems, leading to increased efficiency, productivity, and process reliability. Today, SCADA has become a ubiquitous tool for industries to gather and analyze data directly from the factory floor from any part of the world in real time. SCADA software is found in the sophisticated control systems in a variety of critical industries, from energy and wastewater management to transportation and general manufacturing.
The evolution of SCADA continues with the emergence and integration of advanced digital technologies such as IoT, cloud computing, machine learning, AI, and big data analytics. However, with these advancements come new challenges, such as cybersecurity concerns and the need for dependable software license management systems capable of adapting to the end-user demands of these modern industrial processes.
To address some of these demands, ETM professional control, a subsidiary of Siemens AG, has developed the SIMATIC WinCC Open Architecture, a platform that enables developers to build vendor- and platform-independent SCADA systems with software designed for applications of large scale and high complexity as well as projects with customized functionality. It supports a variety of connectivity options with seamless integration with a wide range of controllers and centralized monitoring systems. The platform-independent SCADA software provides access via native applications as well as mobile and web user interfaces. The open architecture design enables easy adaptation of new technologies such as cloud-based IT, increasing the longevity and the ROI of WinCC OA and enabling continuous innovation by their customers. The WinCC OA solutions are scalable and provide unlimited global access over the Web.
Some of the challenges that come along with such a sophisticated development platform are the licensing and protection of the software, particularly as the technological landscape evolves so rapidly, with modular operating systems, virtualization and Docker container solutions, and cloud systems. This calls for open and robust software with a licensing system that is granular and flexible enough to address every user’s unique installation and able to protect against unintended operation and tampering across a wide range of platforms.
That’s where Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter licensing and protection solution comes into the picture. ETM professional control chose CodeMeter as a powerful replacement of their home-grown licensing solution to meet their variable requirements, providing uniform and fully aligned protection and licensing capabilities across all relevant systems and platforms, ranging from ARM to x86, running on Windows and Linux, and from the smallest IoT device to the cloud. CodeMeter’s ability to ensure secure licensing even in distributed and decentralized setups, its range of license containers, and its effective integration with ERP systems give users in the field flexible options to manage their licenses and tailor their systems to the project requirements.
Customers benefit from licensing tools for both on-site and off-site usage, to fully automate the deployment of their WinCC OA project. To accommodate traditional and modern workflows, customers need to be able to manage their licenses independently from a digital platform. With CodeMeter, they can easily handle license upgrades, add or remove features, and scale their WinCC OA projects up or down without having to interact with an ETM representative.
CodeMeter’s backbone infrastructure integrates with ERP and e-shop systems to provide a streamlined user experience from selecting an item in the e-store to shipping the license. CodeMeter also allows flexible machine binding options, with or without dongles. The fine-grained structure of license item properties is aligned with the highly modular nature of the WinCC OA system and meets the business model specifications for permanent and recurring revenue. It allows dependencies as well as the addition and removal of features when composing a license from individual parts.
As business models with recurring revenue gain more and more significance aside from the traditional one-time investments, software procurement processes should seamlessly adapt to this model to ensure uninterrupted plant operation. Customers expect a seamless experience, from ordering to software license delivery to integration into the software project.
The partnership between ETM and Wibu-Systems ensures that the software solution grows and evolves with the changing needs of its customers, giving ETM a remarkable level of robustness and adaptability and making it impervious to technological change and disruption. The software’s ability to seamlessly handle both standard processes and individual customer requests has contributed to its continued success and customer satisfaction.
You can read more details about this integration of technologies for SCADA software in the case study.
Director Sales and Key Account Management
After studying computer science at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, he worked in traffic simulation R&D before switching over to IT project management and key account management for large ICT companies. Since 2012, he is active in the Key Account Division of our Wibu-Systems sales force.