The talk was all about convergence and mashups at this week's annual Rockwell Automation Fair in Nashville. In case you haven't heard, a mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool--at least that's how Wikipedia defines it.
Rockwell's doing it. Its current mantra is Manufacturing Convergence, which is really just playing off of the idea that manufacturing and enterprise systems are merging as technologies develop to allow them to do so, forcing changes in the way that we manage and handle manufacturing information and the entire relationship between shop-floor control and corporate IT. In short, we're headed for one big mashup.
One of the many people trying to explain the phenomenon was Doug Lawson, CEO of software company Incuity--now a Rockwell company. "The wars around how data moves around have been fought, and web services have won," Lawson said in an exclusive interview. "The days of proprietary or platform-dependent protocols are over." Web 2.0 is here.
Another driver towards convergence is a change in the way we "instrument," Lawson says. From cell phones to RFID to security systems, we instrument much more than we ever have in the past. "The growth in the amount of data out there used to be linear," says Lawson. "Now, the quantity of data has grown dramatically. Technically, it's easier to integrate, and there's the need to do so more than ever before."
To promote its edge in the "convergence" arena, Rockwell brought in a number of speakers from Cisco Systems, one of its preferred partners. Microsoft also had a presence at the Fair.
What's it all mean to manufacturing? We'll all need to become more data and system savvy. The era of mashups is upon us.
More on this year's Automation Fair:
--ARC Advisory Group has a good summary of Rockwell's new product offerings announced at the Fair.
--Control Magazine published daily newsletters from Automation Fair on November 18, November 19 and November 20. The newsletter for the 19th summarizes the keynote address on Manufacturing Convergence.