Stay On-Premise…or Time to Move to the Cloud for HMI Software Development?

By Chris Selph, Solutions Architect, InSource Solutions

Hello, I’m Chris Selph, Solutions Architect with InSource Solutions.

I want to share some new ideas regarding how to develop and deploy manufacturing plant software applications.  The goal always being to simplify and streamline the process while not sacrificing quality or busting the budget.

A Human Machine Interface (HMI) software development cycle is usually executed in a linear fashion (in an engineering environment) and at some point, a software developer needs some semblance of the physical computer hardware/server infrastructure to deploy and test the project.

These cycles can be expensive and time consuming and inevitably the question is raised:  how can the process be made more efficient; how can we move the project forward faster and get to value added activities faster?

There are two ways to approach this. First is the traditional way of purchasing all the hardware required upfront and building the system on your premise which is typically some central staging area. The second (and newer) way is to create a cloud based development environment by renting the complete system. This decision can only be made by the end user who has the information needed to evaluate the options.

Consider the tasks required for any development project and how to get to productivity faster comparing the two approaches. Consider what has to be done and in what sequence using an on-premise approach versus the cloud approach.

One primary consideration is hardware purchase, setup and configuration prior to development beginning in earnest. Check all the things that must be setup to get started. Wouldn’t it speed up the initial process to have many of those critical things included in the solution? Who really likes installing and configuring SQL Server and application software every time?

There are several cloud based solutions out there for building a development system. Industry concepts such as infrastructure as a service or platform as a service may work but they all require the user to build out several parts of the solution and are generally used for permanent “production” systems like database servers or web servers.

Wonderware’s solution is called InStudio, a cloud based development platform that is a “development as a service” option. InStudio allows users to purchase a subscription for the development platform based on actual usage following the create-use-destroy paradigm.

InStudio enables application developers to build the representative infrastructure for all the servers and client interfaces to be ultimately deployed on the end user’s premises. It empowers the entire development team to be working on the same platform in a centralized collaborative way. The team members, including the software vendor, integrators, OEMs and end users, would build and test the system which would ultimately be deployed to the end user’s on-premise system.

Who can benefit from this offering?

  • Development Teams managing multiple projects
  • Remote development and collaborative engineering (helps adherence to standards)

In my opinion, the main benefits include:

  • Multi-Configuration management (site, version, etc.)
  • Allows development and pre-engineering to commence well ahead of hardware delivery
  • Enables you to “Right Size” final hardware specs with test system performance benchmarking
  • Enables collaborative and iterative development/customer acceptance cycles
  • Enables end user training in a safe environment

And this will really revolutionize how application development in manufacturing and industrial environments is done!

To see exactly what software development as a service looks like, check out my short video.  Click here to watch now.