Pablo Benvenuto

PI 101, Module 1: What is the PI System?

Discussion created by Pablo Benvenuto Champion on Sep 25, 2012
Hi, if you are new to the PI System, you are in the right place. In this page you can find a quick introduction to the PI System that you can read in less than 10 minutes.

What is PI?

The PI System collects, stores, and manages data from your plant or process.  You connect your data sources to one or more PI Interface Nodes.  Data is collected from the source by the PI Interface program hosted by the Interface Node.  The data is sent to the PI Server and stored in the PI Data Archive.  Users get data from the PI Server and display it with client tools.

Watch this 3 minute video about What is PI?.

The PI System Architecture

Sometimes the architecture can be very simple.  Some customers have as few as one or two interfaces feeding data to a PI Server.  Everyone then reads that PI Server for their data.

At a minimum there are four parts involved in a PI System: your data source, the Interface Node, the PI Data Archive and a Client PC to display the data.


One of the big advantages of the PI System is the large number of data sources from where it can read data. The PI System can read data from most Process Control systems in your facility, such as scada systems, distributed control systems, programmable logic controllers and more. However, the PI System can also read data from other sources such as relational databases, html and web services, text files such as emails and xml and even IT components like routers and switches. All of this data is collected by a PI Interface program hosted in the Interface Node. OSIsoft has developed interfaces to collect data from over 450 different data sources.

PI Server Components

The PI Server has two major server components: the PI Data Archive and the PI Asset Framework or PI AF.  The PI Server stores production data in the Data Archives (i.e. the temperature in the boiler for the last 20 years) and the metadata or the structure and information of your assets in the AF Server (i.e. model, location, maintenance history of the boiler pressure gauge).  In many cases there are many PI Servers in an organization, aggregating data from lower levels.  PI AF provides a context to all this data in a way that makes sense to the user.


Review Questions


Now that you have a basic understanding of what the PI System is, take a few minutes to think about three specific challenges that the PI Systen can help you solve. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us in this discussion thread. You can also check out the cases studies listed in the Optional Material section below and learn how other people are using the PI System to solve their challenges.

In the next module we will discuss the structure of the PI System including Assets and Tags: Module 2.

Back to the Workshop Outline.

Optional Material

If you want to read some examples of how customers are using the PI System, please go to the Case Studies page and select a case study in your industry.

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to the PI System.  As an option you can watch the two videos below that cover the same content.  You can also go to the OSIsoft Learning Channel and search for "PI System Basics" for a complete series of videos that cover the same content as this workshop.