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Ahmad Fattahi

PI in the Post-PC era?

Posted by Ahmad Fattahi Employee Oct 26, 2010

Microsoft's chief architect, Ray Ozzie, just released this memo about the world after PCs. In a nutshell it signifies the fact that a lot of activities in the software world will be shifted to the Cloud and will be offered as a service. He calls it the dawn of a new day.


OSIsoft does offer its Network Operating Center (NOC) services to its enterprise customers to monitor their PI System on the web 24/7. That is the closest we have come to offering a web-based service to our customers. There is a long gap between this and a full-fledged Cloud-based PI System.


As the community on the cutting edge of PI development and integration, what do you think of offering PI as a service in the Cloud? What are the potential opportunities? How about the challenges? What would it take to win the trust of customers to let someone else host their PI System? How would you envision the interaction between the PI System and data sources in the plants? Would it provide a good opportunity for our partners? Share your ideas with us.

R is an open source programming language and software environment specialized in statistical analysis, programming, and graphics. It provides lots of powerful analytical tools for statistical purposes. We, the PI professionals, deal with huge amounts of data on a constant basis. Therefore, it seems like a natural quest to have some statistical tool for analyzing and extracting statistically valuable information from data stored in PI.


This post is a first attempt to get us all familiarized with R and how we can link that with PI data. To keep things simple we use an add-in to Microsoft Excel called RExcel that brings in R capabilities inside Microsoft Excel. From that point on we use PI DataLink to bring in PI data and perform our statistical operations on them using RExcel. Later on we will see other ways to connect PI with R.


What you would need to do is to download and install R and RExcel. You can access the documentation here. Then you can use the Excel sheet attached to this post. The only change you need to do is pointing PI DataLink to your PI server as opposed to mine in the “Values” column. It is made as a self-explanatory first step on how you can perform some basic statistical operations on PI data (obviously you need PI DataLink to bring in PI data).


The operations include mean value, variance, linear regression, and regression analysis along with some plotting of the regression. Some of these features may be possible through MS Excel itself; however, once we know how to use R we will see that the features will surpass MS Excel pretty fast. You are all set and ready to go; good luck and have fun!



For those of you who attended our OSIsoft vCampus Live! session on "New to PI SDK and AF SDK 2010", we announced the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of PI SDK 2010, which is now available in the "Pre-Release" area of the vCampus Download Center.  This major release includes two key features known as PI SDK Buffering and Fanning.  In a nutshell, PI SDK Buffering allows certain writes to the PI Server/Collective to be buffered when the network connection is lost.  On the other hand, PI SDK Fanning supports writing to all members of an HA PI Collective.  Taken together, these features enable custom PI SDK-based applications to write data to PI, similar to PI API-based PI Interfaces.  Note that it also enables PI OLEDB-, PI JDBC-, and PI Web Services-based applications to buffer and fan data (since these PI Data Access products all communicate to PI through the PI SDK).


It is important to note that this functionality is targeted for a specific use case: applications that insert new data into PI.  Additionally, PI SDK 2010 will have limited support for editing existing data or entering annotations, and can only write to one PI Server or PI Collective.  In some cases, manual entry applications like PI Manual Logger or PI DataLink (using the PIPutVal macro) may work with buffering and fanning, although a future release of PI SDK will include more capabilities for these scenarios.  We realize manual entry is a significant use case for you and we believe the scope of this initial release offers significant value.  However, there was just too much involved in both PI SDK and PI Buffer Subsystem (PIBufSS, which PI SDK 2010 leverages) for us to tackle it all.  Rest assured that we are aware of the need and will continue to enhance PI SDK Buffering/Fanning going forward.


That said, we know there are some folks who have developed custom applications and will benefit from PI SDK Buffering/Fanning, so we want to make this available for testing as soon as possible.  We would like to encourage you to check out the complete list of features in the "Introducing PI SDK Buffering" document in the vCampus Library (under vCampus PI Products Kits > Data Access Technologies), then try out the CTP bits with your application and send all feedback to  Also, please join us for the PI SDK 2010 CTP webinar at the end of October to learn more about this exciting release.


We look forward to seeing you at the webinar and hearing your feedback...


UPDATE 11/3/10: We all love getting something for free.  In that spirit, I have some good news to share!  It turns out that SDK Buffering will actually significantly improve the performance for applications that write to PI.  Check out this discussion thread for more details.  The real question is what does this mean for your application?  We encourage you to try this and find out, then report your results here.  We think you will be pleasantly surprised.

If you attended OSIsoft vCampus Live! 2010, you might have seen this announcement in your mailbox already... if you haven't seen it already, we are happy to announce that video recordings and presentations are now available! Attendees of the event can access all that content under the Live! tab at the top of the site.


We look forward to seeing you all again next year (along with everybody else!) at OSIsoft vCampus Live! 2011 - week of September 12th 2011, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Save the date!



Ahmad Fattahi

Got Energy?!

Posted by Ahmad Fattahi Employee Oct 6, 2010

Hello everyone! The great OSIsoft vCampus community is making several lively and vivacious moves in different fronts.


We are about to kick off two very exciting Community Projects very soon. One talks extensively about using PI for StreamInsight through several examples; this is being offered by GregDouglas. The other one creates a matrix view add-in to PI ProcessBook and is being done by wpurrer .


There is at least one more proposal on the table that concerns predictive analytics and preemptive maintenance. We will make its announcements in due time.


If you have any interesting ideas in the form of a project that you would like to share with the community drop us a line or start a discussion thread in the forums so we can get the ball rolling fast


Also, there is this interesting discussion thread started by Kenneth Rice on ways to address everybody's questions faster and more efficiently in the community. Either if you are a newbie to PI development and OSIsoft vCampus or a seasoned PI developer you may need to know where to look for certain information in vCampus. Please cast your ideas on the thread and share what you think is the best way to get everyone up to speed.

Hello vCampus members,


One of the privileges of becoming a vCampus All-star is that I get my very own blog, which I hope you will all find interesting.  As I am not an OSIsoft employee you can expect some interesting topics from the real situations/projects that I have worked on and am currently working on, which have been solved either in part or completely using PI!


Unfortunately I was unable to attend in person at vCampus Live! 2010 and I am sure I missed a really good event - hopefully I will be able to make it next year.  The vCampus team did manage to send a parcel of goodies to me in the UK that I would have collected in person at the event.  My only concern is that the t-shirt that was sent in the parcel is a little bit big...



That's all for now, be sure to keep checking the forums as well as the blogs!

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