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Sparkplug 3.0 Releases and Is Fast Tracked to Become International Standard

When it comes to market growth and unhindered innovation, two factors—interoperability and standardization—are key. The IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) is poised for major growth this decade, and efforts to promote and enable interoperability and standardization within the IIoT umbrella of technologies will only support and enhance this growth. With its release of Sparkplug 3.0, the Eclipse Foundation is taking an important step forward in Sparkplug’s transformation into an official industry standard that will help enable “plug-and-play” IIoT solutions.

The IIoT market will reach new heights by the end of this decade. Predictions about exactly how high the market value will soar vary. Market research firm MRFR (Market Research Future) estimates the IIoT will hit nearly $860 billion by the end of 2030. Precedence Research’s data suggests the IIoT space will soar to even greater heights, reaching 1,742 billion by 2030. Sectors leading the way in IIoT use and adoption, according to Precedence, include manufacturing (30%), followed by energy and power, oil and gas, healthcare, and logistics and transport.

The big news from the Eclipse Foundation, an open-source software foundation, is two-fold. First, the foundation, along with the Eclipse Sparkplug Working Group, officially launched version 3.0 of Sparkplug with new capabilities. Eclipse describes Sparkplug as “an open software specification that enables mission-critical OT (operational technology) clients to use industry standards, including MQTT (MQ telemetry transport), to seamlessly integrate data from their applications, sensors, devices, and gateways with most IIoT Infrastructure.” The goals for the latest version of the specification are to clarify ambiguities in the previous version and add explicit normative statements while maintaining backward compatibility.

In addition to v3.0 of Sparkplug, Eclipse announced it has received PAS (publicly available specification) status from the ISO/IEC’s JTC (Joint Technology Committee) 1, a fast-track process that will significantly shorten Sparkplug’s process of becoming an approved ISO/IEC standard from up to four years to less than one year. This, along with the Sparkplug Working Group’s new product compatibility program for Sparkplug implementers, has broad implications for the future of the IIoT.

Eclipse says the Sparkplug specification’s transition to an approved industry standard will accelerate its growth and acceptance by all industries. And the product compatibility program for Sparkplug implementers will help ensure Sparkplug-compatible products and implementations offer the compatibility and interoperability users need. Together, these steps, plus the new capabilities of Sparkplug 3.0, will help industrial organizations achieve more successful, interoperable digital transformations.

Travis Cox, chief technology evangelist of Inductive Automation, a participating organization in the Sparkplug Working Group, calls the Sparkplug specification the “missing link” that bridges OT and IT (information technology) and an integral part of digital transformation. As its reach grows internationally, the standard could unlock seamless integration, enabling important innovation in the IIoT.

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