This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.

Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!

SQL Bridge is Magical

SQL Bridge is my favorite part of Ignition.  It was our first product back when I was the only "salesperson."  Back then it was a standalone product called FactorySQL and was the product that bootstrapped us forward.

FactorySQL resulted from a call by many of our customers (back when I was an integrator) to track, analyze and make available ever more complex data from ever more sources and to provide accessibility to the data from web pages.  Prior to that we developed a lot of one-off C, Delphi and VB applications, but these were albatrosses around the neck.  What I really wanted was a reasonably priced, simple, commercial-off-the-shelf solution and I was pretty confident I'd find it.  Yet four months later I reversed that idea, was disillusioned and was pretty sure I wouldn't find it.  Therefore we had no choice but to develop something in-house.

I drew up the original concept on paper and Colby developed it.  We gained indispensable field experience deploying it to a wide variety of industries and applications which allowed us refine, add versatility, and battle harden it.  I was giddy at the realization my integration business could now have a total monopoly.  No where else could you get FactorySQL's functionality at any price.  It was intoxicating, but that wore off when I realized you either get in the software business with both feet, or you get out (I could write a book on that subject alone).  So I chose the software business.  

Back to being the first "salesman." It was a real kick demonstrating FactorySQL to integrators.  In the first place, like myself in the beginning, few had much familiarity with SQL.  I took great pleasure in showing them how easy, inexpensive and useful SQL databases can be.  While demonstrating FactorySQL the "light bulb" would inevitably go off and uniformly I'd get the "what's the catch?" question.  I did this by demonstrating the 1-2-3 drag-drop-log ease of use.  Then I'd show triggers, bi-directional mirroring, recipes, mapping addresses between different brands of PLCs, wide column logging, automatic sequencing, all types of stuff.  I could do it in minutes.  I don't sell anymore but it was fun while I did. 

In 2010 FactorySQL was renamed SQL Bridge which is part of Ignition.  That offered a host of new benefits such as ability to run on any platform like OSX, Linux or any version of Windows, support for OPC-UA, built-in drivers for most popular protocols, online editing, and more.  But it now shares the limelight with a stable of other cool modules and that's mostly why I wrote this piece.  SQL Bridge is the integrator's swiss army knife (it was my ace-in-the-hole) but it could be forgotten as the limelight now favors the rising stars (newer modules).  And that would be a pity.

Heck, we're the first culprits.  Just go to our website and look up SQL Bridge.  If you can find it at all you'll likely come away thinking it's only a logger or historian.  So I'm telling you now it's more. It's the integrator's swiss army knife. It's the integrator's secret advantage (experience shows not every integrator "gets it").

You can get your own reality on this by downloading Ignition from our site and installing it (five minutes max).  First set up a database (MySQL is free and sets up in minutes).  Then go into the "Configuration" page and create a database connection.  Open the designer and go straight to "Transaction Groups" in the project tree (SQL Bridge manifests itself in the designer as Transaction Groups in the project tree and as a the History tab of the Tag editor).  Using the included help system you'll figure it out quick and if not look it up in our free Ignition University.

What is Inductive Automation's Market share?

Recently we were asked what Inductive Automation's market share is.  Good question.  Clearly what was being asked was, "what percent of the SCADA market does Ignition have?"  But asking that question misses the bigger picture.  The diverse applications to which Ignition is deployed defy any simple categorization as "SCADA".  Nonetheless, I will address the SCADA market share question later in this post.  But as knowledgeable users already know, there is no established category that adequately defines Ignition.

A good analogy of this is the history of the cell phone.  In the beginning the cellphone was just a telephone.  Everyone understood you could make calls with it and nearly everyone had one.  Then the smartphone came which handled emails, web browsing, scheduling, photography, video, games and a thousand other things.  It became a viable second office.  It's no longer a cell phone,  it's a handheld computer.  It's in a whole new category that happens to make phone calls also.

It's exactly the same with Ignition.  Ignition is clearly in a category of its own, and yes, it can do SCADA too.  But it is an IT friendly, all-in-one, rapid development and deployment platform that can create custom database applications, or anything else at an unbelievably low price.  So what is this category called?  I'm looking for suggestions.

Old SCADA is like using a horse buggy.  Ignition is like driving a Mercedes AMG ML63.

That gets us back to "what is our market share?"  Simple.  100% of our category.  Because no one, I really do mean no one, even comes close to our functionality.  Some companies are trying to copy us, but they clearly don't understand much about Ignition.  A bunch of programmers and marketers in an ivory tower will never understand Ignition, nor do they understand actual needs of the market.

Now as I promised, let's look narrowly at the traditional SCADA market.  What's our market share? There are different market share metrics used like new sales and install base, but how would you ever measure either now that there's Ignition?  Ignition antiquates these metrics.  Consider this... install one Ignition server, deploy 25 runtime clients, use 100k tags, create 5 simultaneous projects with 250 screens each and you spend about 13K.  Now rip it all out and replace it with your traditional SCADA software and what will you spend?  Maybe $65K? More?

Let's extend the example a bit.  Let's say you want to add 25 more runtime clients and go up to unlimited tags.  What do you pay?  Another $65K?  More?  With Ignition it costs you nothing more.

So tell me now, what is the size of the SCADA market really?  And since Ignition is sold at a fixed price by the server with unlimited runtime clients, unlimited tags, unlimited concurrent development seats, unlimited database connections, and unlimited historian points, how do you measure the cost to fulfill a given system's requirements?  I'm sorry to say folks.. we just broke all traditional market share metrics.

From our perspective though, it's not all about SCADA.  We do SCADA also.  But how about fulfilling all the needs of  Production, QA, Scheduling, Maintenance or any other department and making it all work seamlessly at the speed of light as a paperless system.  The market for that is huge.  How huge?  I doubt anyone knows because the category has never been adequately defined.  But whatever it is, we've got 100% of it because no one else is even trying.