Software for Open Process Automation:  Standard Runtime Software Environments

By Harry Forbes

ARC Report Abstract

Note: This is the fourth in a series of ARC Insights on Software for Open Process Automation.


Higher level automation applications have benefitted from a common software runtime environment since the 1990s when they first started to use Windows operating systems.  However, base-level automation (sensor I/O and basic control) has never enjoyed this benefit and continues to employ a wide variety of runtime software environments, mostly real-time operating systems (RTOS).  As cloud runtime environments penetrate into edge computing and (eventually) open process automation, this situation may change.  The implications are huge, and could radically transform the software tool sets used for process automation.

Open Process Automation for Deeper IT-OT Convergence

Much of the buzz right now in the world of enterprise IT revolves around “containers” and “microservices.” Controllers May Run Applications in Containers with Container Engine as the Runtime Environment open process automationhfpa1.JPGContainer software technology packages applications with only those software components they require and then deploys (“pushes”) these to a set of target systems where they execute. Microservices refers to breaking up large applications into many small parts and deploying these on cloud computing platforms by the hundreds or even thousands. With microservices, the application code for each app becomes much simpler, but the task of monitoring and managing a swarm of apps (“orchestration” is the IT term for this) becomes much more difficult. However, these orchestration tasks are performed by mature, open source software (Kubernetes) with an excellent track record running applications on a massive scale for a company we are al-ready familiar with – Google.

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Keywords: Containers, Docker, Kubernetes, Linux, Open Process Automation, Open Source, Runtime, Software Runtime, Yocto, ARC Advisory Group.


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