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Ethernet protocol detente

August 05, 2010


 I'm out in Scottsdale, AZ, at the moment attending the PI North America General Assembly. (In years past, this would have been the PTO General Assembly.) Maybe it's just my imagination, but it seems that some of the Ethernet based protocols, including ProfiNet and its competitors, may be losing some of their combative nature and the Ethernet wars may be deescalating sooner than the earlier fieldbus wars. This is based on anecdotal observation, but here are a couple reference points:

Mike Bryant, director, was introducing the group's new Website, All Things Profinet, and he mentioned that it is aimed at users that have never tried an industrial Ethernet protocol, rather than trying to convert users away from EtherNet/IP or Modbus TCP. He says it's pretty hard to convince an established user of another protocol to spend the money to change.

Carl Henning, deputy director, says that the "Debunking the Myth" section of the Profibus Website has been on hiatus because there has been little to discuss. In times past this was the site of some animated discussions as to who's technology does what. Now that phase seems past.

I also lack statistical evidence, but it seems that there are fewer Siemens folks at this meeting as well. A few years ago I recall them being more visible as apologists for the brand. Perhaps they feel it has moved past that phase and can survive nicely on its own merits.

Deployents of such platforms are continuing to grow, but there is still much territory that is untouched. When providers can look to that rather than sniping at each other, there will be more light generated and less heat. Now, on to wireless.