dataFEED and Successful IT/OT Integration for the IIoT

When it comes to starting, operating and expanding Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions, information technology (IT) architectures play a key role. For example, leveraging IT tools like innovative algorithms can help you increase your production efficiency. At the same time, you may be facing some architecture-related challenges, such as plant- and enterprise-wide deployment migrations, cloud connectivity, database integration, programmable logic controller (PLC) connectivity, security and ongoing maintenance.

While these challenges are typical, until recently it was impossible to build a future-proof, enterprise-wide IT architecture that makes ongoing maintenance possible. PLCs can take decades to upgrade, while the pace at which IT architectures change is dizzying by comparison. 

Transforming the Traditional Gateway into a Software Platform

When it comes to integrating IT and OT, the focus used to be on gateways. However, as more traditional industrial automation software applications move to IIoT devices, the requirements for data integration between both worlds have grown more complex. In short, what we need are flexible gateways with advanced functionalities that can support IT technologies — like virtualization, interface abstraction and IT security. 

These gateways can, for example, aggregate multiple data sources into one server, as well as enrich the OT interface with semantic information, simplifying software application development. They’re also manageable from IT and cloud platforms, making them a part of the industrial edge and capable of running on standard hardware.

Softing dataFEED Technology

These were the developments behind Softing’s dataFEED product family, which encompasses hardware and software products that exchange data between PLCs and business or cloud applications. The dataFEED OPC Suite is an all-in-one industrial edge solution, providing many cloud connections in a single software product. And, it can access the PLCs of all leading manufacturers — including the Siemens SIMATIC S7 — integrating OPC classic components and applications into modern OPC UA solutions.

For example, with the dataFEED OPC Server Siemens — one of our dataFEED OPC Suite components — you have native read and write access to Siemens S7 and Siemens-compatible PLC data, including optimized data blocks in Siemens S7-1200 and S7-1500 controllers. 

With dataFEED OPC Server Siemens, there’s no need to import or configure symbols manually, as the device reads symbol information directly from the PLC. Through the integrated server, OPC client applications receive the information, enabling the applications to access items within data blocks via symbolic labeling.

Other features of the dataFeed OPC Server Siemens include:

  • Native support for optimized data blocks in Siemens S7-1200 and S7-1500 controllers.
  • IIoT architectural connectivity options include hardware gateways, software solutions, Docker deployment and middleware deployment for abstraction layer implementation.
  • Quick and easy integration into OPC client applications.
  • No required changes to the control program.
  • An easy-to-use graphical configuration interface or REST API for enterprise configuration.
  • An intelligent wizard for configuration in just three steps.
  • Import symbolic names from Siemens TIA Portal and STEP 7 projects.
  • Optional integration of non-OPC UA-ready components — like Siemens S5 controllers in OPC UA applications.
  • Optional integration of process data in IIoT cloud applications.

Learn More in our Technical Article:
The Softing dataFEED product family is just one example of an evolving IT technology that is making IT/OT data integration easier in the age of the IIoT. To learn more, download the article. 


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