Containerized Software Packages Simplify Connectivity for Legacy Machines

How Docker Containers Streamline IIoT Solutions

Manufacturing and packaging plants can improve their operations by integrating their IT and OT technologies — unlocking benefits like predictive maintenance, data analysis and connections to powerful enterprise applications. While implementing an IIoT solution can be a challenge for businesses that don’t have the staff, time or resources, flexible software applications provided in Docker containers can streamline a pathway to success.

Docker is a platform that provides complete software environments called containers which consist of packages of software applications and the dependencies necessary to run them. This lightweight platform enables fast and easy software deployment in the cloud or on-premise.

Softing’s edgeConnector and edgeAggregator are both containerized software applications that allow users to easily integrate their machines with OPC UA servers. Here’s how:

Seamless Data Access and Scalability: Softing's edgeConnector

Softing’s edgeConnector is a software module that enables data access to machine controllers, facilitating communications to an OPC UA server or MQTT broker. This module is compatible with industry-leading controller platforms like SIMATIC S7, SINUMERIK 840D, Modbus and Fanuc CNC.

The key feature of edgeConnector is its containerized format. EdgeConnector can be easily deployed and scaled across devices — providing flexibility to adapt to changing project demands. Thanks to the container, the software can be deployed, adjusted, started or stopped at any time. Additionally, management systems like Kubernetes, Azure IoT Edge, or AWS IoT Greengrass can deploy and configure edgeConnector.

A built-in web interface facilitates edgeConnector’s simple configuration, giving users granular control of the application to fine-tune settings like role-based access rights. Once deployed, edgeConnector can be remotely managed via its REST API.

As a part of the dataFEED product family, edgeConnector allows brownfield machines to connect to MQTT brokers and OPC UA applications.

Optimizing OPC UA Data Integration: Softing's edgeAggregator

When you need to manage multiple data sources and serve that data to OPC UA applications, edgeAggregator provides a solution. As another dataFEED component, edgeAggregator is a software module that acts as a data integration layer. 

This software acts as an aggregation server to consolidate communications from OPC UA servers and provide data to cloud-based or local OPC UA clients and local MQTT brokers via a common OPC UA interface. Opting for alternative solutions that connect multiple OPC UA clients and servers would be a complex, time-consuming process — requiring one-by-one, individual connections.

Similar to edgeConnector, edgeAggregator’s containerized format enables extremely flexible deployment options. Kubernetes, Azure IoT Edge or AWS IoT Greengrass can deploy and configure the module. And, thanks to the software’s interface abstraction, edgeAggregator enables adaptability and scalability for OPC UA applications and MQTT brokers.

edgeAggregator requires initial configuration via its integrated web interface, but the server can be reconfigured later without a restart. The capability to keep running while adjusting configuration saves substantial time. 

This container provides secure communications and supports all OPC UA and MQTT security functionality. Different data can be provisioned to different users and applications. edgeAggregator also supports multiple OPC UA endpoints and provides them with their own certificates. Additionally, endpoint access can be filtered according to IP address. It also offers firewall capabilities like server-based address space filtering, client connection limitations, service restrictions and denial-of-service detection.

Learn more about our Docker container applications on our product page.


Softing Inc.