Real-time Data Storage at the Edge

By Janice Abel



OSIsoft held its 30th annual (and first-ever virtual) PI World user conference on May 6, 2020.  This was a major milestone for the company, which also celebrated its 40th Data Storage at the Edgeanniversary.  ARC Advisory Group attributes this relative longevity to the company’s long-standing tradition of innovative technology.  

Approximately 60 different customers presented more than 80 use cases at this virtual conference.  These user presentations helped demonstrate how OSIsoft continues to evolve and transform digitally with data from innovative new technologies like Industrial IoT sensors and community-driven initiatives.  Clearly, Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 initiatives continue to transform critical operations, but – as we learned  - these often require edge data technology, such as OSIsoft’s new Edge Data Store (EDS).

Getting Reliable and Persistent Data from Remote Locations

Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 initiatives continue to transform critical operations with low-cost sensors and solutions. However, device data from remote operations often remains largely stranded and/or unused due to poor network connectivity and the difficulty developing edge solutions to manage these data in critical operations. 

Temporary Data Store

EDS augments the PI System and OSIsoft Cloud Services (OCS) by collecting and storing data in situations where it would be impractical to deploy a full system.  EDS runs on small, rugged devices and can be embedded in existing industrial hardware.  OSIsoft designed it to be resilient and require minimal administrative intervention.

Data Storage at the Edge

EDS temporarily stores the data locally and then sends it to either PI Server, the storage engine that powers the PI System, or OCS for longer-term storage.  EDS enables users to store and access real-time data securely in remote places where it is often too challenging or not cost-effective to do so due to network-related constraints.   

Persistent Data Storage

According to OSIsoft, EDS can provide guaranteed end-to-end data storage and uninterrupted access to the remote data for timely decision support, even when a network is not available.

The company designed EDS technology to be compact and easy to use, even for non-software engineers.  If there is a power outage or other problem, EDS is self-healing and can automatically resume operations following the disruption. 

EDS also enables users to select when and where the data will be sent or streamed.  It can collect data as needed and select specific data to be sent to the PI Server(s) or OCS.

Edge Data Store Capabilities

EDS integrates layers of capabilities that work together to collect and manage data.  These capabilities include:

  • Inbound data connectivity to the two most common industrial edge protocols: built-in Modbus TCP and OPC UA.   EDS also supports the OSIsoft Message Format (OMF), enabling OSIsoft or users to write custom applications using REST API if the user does not have devices with Modbus Ethernet or OPC UA.
  • Local data storage (up to the remote device’s disc space capacity) until it can be egressed to the cloud or the PI Server.
  • Data access or connector can access the data locally if needed using a read/write API.
  • Data egress engine, the data transfer edge component, sends data from local storage to PI Server(s) or OCS when needed.  The data can be sent to multiple locations, multiple PI Servers, and OCS.
  • Administration layer supports EDS health management.

Data Storage at the EdgeThe integrated layers in the EDS work together to collect and manage data.  The EDS software was designed to run on compact, hardware-agnostic hardware, such as small, inexpensive single board computers like Raspberry Pi, but can also run on more robust industrial-grade hardware like gateways and wireless devices.  The EDS uses Linux or Windows operating systems and supports platform-independent Docker containers.

EDS can collect and integrate data with the primary control network data to create a holistic view of industrial operations.  OSIsoft’s customers and partners have deployed EDS in a variety of settings, including on hardened gateways, to monitor personnel safety at sea, track performance of pumps in the field, and optimize the efficiency of large-scale battery solutions.

EDS Use Cases

Typical use cases for OSIsoft’s new Edge Data Store include:

  • Collecting less-critical remote measurement data in situations where it was not previously cost effective to do so
  • Collecting data from mobile assets located in hazardous locations
  • Performing analytics at the edge
  • Providing new business and services offering using IoT data
Data Storage at the Edge

Specific examples of where edge can be used include remote condition monitoring on floating upstream drilling platforms, monitoring personal safety at sea, tracking performance of pumps in the field, collecting data from mobile mining assets,  integrating data from remote solar and wind generation sites, and similar remote applications where network connectivity may be intermittent at best.  Other opportunities for EDS include upstream drilling, motors, vibrational analysis, temperatures, floating platforms, grid or energy applications, transportation,  trucks, grids, wind, solar, ships and similar applications that are remote and/or areas that have unreliable or unavailable network services available. 

In one specific example, to improve the safety of personnel who must work in the dynamic, dangerous environment of the drill floor on offshore rigs, EDS pilot customer, Rolloos, turned its CCTV technology into a comprehensive detection system that could track personnel as they entered active zones.  This pilot project verified that all data was accessible by offshore operators for immediate decision support and could be streamed onshore for further analysis.  Easy and reliable access to edge data now enables Rolloos to monitor personnel and equipment in real time to improve both employee safety and overall process performance.


OSIsoft is continuing to add additional features for the new EDS technology.  These include additional data connectors for EDS, remote management for remote installations, analytics, streaming metadata, and trending.

Edge computing with the EDS is just one part of OSIsoft’s overall enterprise data collection strategy.  It can support both edge-to-on-premises data and edge-to-cloud data to help improve critical and/or remote operations through continuous, real-time data collection, storage, and visibility.


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Keywords: Real-time Data, OSIsoft Edge Data Store, PI System, Cloud Services, Industrial IoT, ARC Advisory Group.

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