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By Elian Zimmermann
20 November 2023

Canary Fundamentals: The Data Historian that doesn’t compromise



Clark Bossert
Director of Business Development


While we recognise that our community includes many specialists, the fundamental session served as an introduction to Canary for many new members in attendance—the features and benefits and why and how you would deploy Canary. The recording serves as a fantastic recap for those with limited experience!


My name is Clark Bossert, and I’m the director of business development here at Canary. And I was concerned between Kent Melville and Clark Bossert, I was concerned. There’s some expectation that people were going to get Clark Kent, and I thought that Superman was coming, so I apologize that we couldn’t book him. But you have me. But today, I’m going to be taking you through the canary system overview. So if you’re not familiar with Canary, this is going to be kind of just like a prerequisite course just to give you some familiarity with the system before Ken Wyant dives deeper later this afternoon. So the title of today’s presentation is making the most of your process data, and that’s really what we’re all about.


So in this agenda, I’m just going to tell you who we are as a company and the values that we have. I’m also just going to do a canary system overview, just kind of at a high level for how it works. Then we’ll talk about the South Africa market development and some of your peers that are using the software currently and then opportunities that you have with Canary. So whether you’re an end user, if you’ve never checked out Canary before, or if you’re an integrator and you’re looking to potentially consider working with Canary, I’ll have some actionable next step that you can take.


So my objectives today is that I’d really like to equip you with some knowledge, and I think that’s what this whole session is about, is just to equip you with some knowledge so that you can go forward and capitalize on opportunities that you’re facing in your industry and then also become familiar with the tools that enable that. So Canary is one sepisoft ignition flow. We want you to have just a little bit of familiarity so that you could take a next step and then specifically understand ways that you can transform and optimize your operation, your organization, your business with Canary. So kind of our rationale for why we exist as a company is that we exist to make it easy for you to use your process data.


And we understand that engineers, data scientists, plant managers, and everyone from the shop floor all the way to the C suite, you all just want to use your data. And there’s a couple of things that conventionally might stand in the way of that. So problems could be prohibitive licensing costs or licensing. Even if it’s not expensive, it’s not flexible enough to really accommodate what you need and scale with you underpowered solutions the IT and OT divide and incongruent priorities and softwares that don’t really facilitate your projects and satisfy requirements. Limited scalability is a huge theme, rigid architectural requirements. So we really want to craft a product that serves you and that doesn’t cause you to have to realign substantially just to make one thing work and get your data. Also security, and then deployments, updates, and administration. So I’ll come on to this later.


But the canary system doesn’t require any central database administration, so you don’t need to hire dedicated administrator, and then simple to deploy. And then updates are also a breeze as well. And then vendor lock in, which is huge. So I’ll talk about that. But really, the canary system, it’s designed to address all of these issues and many more as well. And so that’s where we come in. So, Canary was founded in 1985, so almost 40 years ago. So we’ve been around for quite a while, and we have over 20,000 installations in over 70 countries. And the canary system, we’re heavy into the process manufacturing industry, but we’re used in every major industry.


So you’re primarily going to find us not in discrete manufacturing, but in process, but whether in pharmaceuticals, or oil and gas, or food and beverage, or life sciences or anything, we have use cases in those fields. And then also we have a global network of distributors and SI partners, obviously eliminate here in South Africa. But whatever region you’re in, or whatever partners you work with, we have a presence there that you can be supported by. So, the canary system, this is going to be a mouthful. It’s a proprietary NoSQL time series historian database that’s purpose built just for industrial automation. And in a nutshell, like I said, the canary system, we just strive to make it really easy for you to use your process data. So we guide our customers to success along kind of like a three step path.


So we start by collecting and storing all of your data. So this would be any edge device, any common protocol. Then we assign context. That’s just transforming your raw data into actionable, useful information. And then we maximize your operation with our visualization and publishing tools, among others. So, step one, sorry for the dense slide here, but we’ll power through this information. So we start by securely collecting and storing your data from any edge or iiot device. So that could be your PLCs coming across a protocol, any Iot device. And then if there’s. Suppose you have a site out in the field and there’s limited connectivity or there’s issues, if you have data that’s coming in, your connection is interrupted, then we’ll store and forward it. It’s going to buffer locally, and then it’ll backfill when a connection is reestablished.


And the historian, it’s capable of logging millions of tags with lossless compression, and it does it all at incredibly fast speed. So millions of tags. So a single historian server is capable of competently handling 2 million tags per historian, or tens of millions when you cluster. And of course, this depends on the total volume and the density of the data, so metadata is included, and then the frequency that you’re pulling. So subsecond is going to look a lot different than ten minute data and then lossless compression, so you can pretty much forget about like, interpolated average or drop data. Canary preserves your original values forever. So every once in a while, I’ll have to correct an article online because we’ll say, oh, they’re averaging it, or they interpolate it, or they drop it, or they somehow down sample it.


But really, in our historian, it’s all of your raw data forever. And that’s especially important if you want to stack any analytics on top of it. It’s really crucial to have your real raw data. So that’s losses, compression, and then incredibly fast performance. So we can write 1.5 million writes into the database, and then we can read twice as fast coming out, and then it’s unchanging scalable performance as you grow. So rather than having to query some data and then come back after lunch, you can just get it right then. So that’s one of the areas that we really shine, is that when it comes to scaling, we have canary systems for thousand tag customers. But then if you want tens of millions of tags, it’s something that also can be accommodated through our technology. So step two is assigning context.


So obviously having your data is fantastic, but doesn’t mean much if you don’t have any context. That turns it into valuable information. So we transform your complex data into clear and easy to understand information with our views service. So if you’re familiar with Py, this might be like asset framework. We call it asset modeling through our views service. So you can build virtual data models of the historian, and then with asset modeling, you can change tag names, you can alias them, you can organize tags based on your equipment, you can also filter by condition, and then you can make templates for visualization. So this is all done through Regex. I won’t dive into that. If you have a hard question, feel free to ask Ken about Regex in the deep dive session.


But just and in all sincerity though, I’m not trying know pitch Ken for hard questions, but we want you to get the most out of this software and we want you to feel comfortable or most out of this session and comfortable to take a next step. So please do feel free to bring your questions. So yes, with asset modeling, you define your assets and then with our calculation server, you don’t have to waste time in your SCADA or plcs writing expressions that apply to. Sorry. You can write expressions that will apply to all of your asset instances and that also includes backfilled data. So with calculations, you can have calculations on top of calculations. And this really is something that can be powerful.


If you have a single tag that maybe doesn’t convey the story that your asset is telling without a calculation sitting on top, that’s what you can do. So you can put a function in and peaks or valleys that were not as meaningful or visible or readily apparent without a calculation can then stand off the page and you can really the goal in all of this assigned context step is just to really see the story that your assets are telling. So final step is event monitoring. So you can create rules to monitor for condition based asset events. So is the motor too hot? Did it run for too long? Did it satisfy some condition to where I want to know about it, and then I want to receive an email, I want to receive an update. So that’s really what event monitoring is about.


And then the final step, the third step is maximize your operation. So when I say maximize, we’re talking about our visualization tool primarily, but also our publishing and our ways that you can get data out of the system. So we start by analyzing the screen that you’re seeing here is axiom. That’s within canary. It’s not a separate product, but this is our axiom screen. This is our visualization tool, and it’s built in HTML five, so all you need is a modern web browser to access it, and it’s completely drag and drop.


So rather than needing to contact like a Scada engineer and say, hey, I need a new dashboard, you can just build it for yourself on your iPhone out in the field, and then all of the permissions for folks that want to build their own applications can be set up in our administrator. But it’s a really powerful tool. So we have real time trending. And I’m going to walk through a couple of axiom screens here in just a second. But yeah, you can build dashboards, trends, reports, and much more. We also have an Excel add in. So if you love Excel, if you’ve spent more life in Excel than you’d like to, then you can still have your Excel tool and you can download all your data there. And then our data connectors, so you can integrate data with all your favorite applications and platforms.


So I should have mentioned this at the beginning, but we make it totally free to get all of your data into the canary system and to get it back out. So we don’t charge for that. It’s unlimited. It’s just as part of the package. So we really believe that the data belongs to you. And also, even as it’s modeled or as it’s put into an asset model, as it’s contextualized, you own that context too. So just because you build something, it’s not that you can just get your raw tags out, you can get your structure out as well, if you’d like. So those are our data connectors. So we have a web API. You can get your data out through that, connect with power, Bi, or any other tools that are valuable for your work.


And to make it even easier, since we have ignition here as well, we have the Canary ignition module. So this is basically the entirety of the canary system in a realtime integration with ignition. So you can log data natively, but it’s also a ignition tag history provider, and it provides performance at scale. So if you have an application that you have a different historian requirement, then that’s where our time series database can really help take you to the next level, depending on your needs. So it’s also free to download. So you can get, obviously, an ignition demo, you can get a free canary demo. And then the third part is you can download the module for free from ignitions module showcase or from our website. So here’s an axiom screen.


And I don’t know how visible some of that finer text is, but as you can see, this person set it up with an iframe. They’ve got some gauges, they’ve got their trending. And something cool is that you can overlay trends on top of each other. So maybe one scale is zero to one, another one is one to 1000, and you don’t want it to just be a flat line and then all the mountains, so you can adjust the scales, you can timeshift it, you can band them together, you can pretty much manipulate these trends in whatever way conveys the information in the most intuitive manner possible. And you can make it any color that you want. So here’s another screen. So there we’ve got winding temperatures. This is looking at a power distribution site.


We’ve got donut gauges, and this would be an example of an asset model where these will dynamically. Ken’s going to come on to this. If you have new assets in the field, they will automatically dynamically populate. Sounds like magic. Ken will explain how it’s really just a feature that we’ve built into the product, but it’ll self discover new assets and it’ll bring them in. And so in this instance, you may have a thousand assets, and you’re like, I want to know about the red ones and the green and yellow. Maybe there’s blue ones out there that you don’t care about. So if any of these reach a condition where it causes them to turn red, they’ll show up there. So this is kind of.


All of these features are what can save you and your operators time throughout the day to where, as your guys are coming in, they can have their own custom display, they can get the information that they need, they can get right to work, and they can make decisions, because you can’t make a good decision without good information. And so this is something that’s hopefully very intuitive and time saving as well. Here’s just one more axiom screen. This one doesn’t have any trending on it, but I don’t know if you can see here, we’ve got the Blackbird station, Magpie, starling, and then Jsite. So it is best practice to name all of your sites after birds, since you’re using the canary system. I’m just kidding. But there’s just another chart and just another example of things that you can do with it.


So this chart here shows our install base through the years. I’m just kidding. It’s just an axiom screen. It’s just a selfless plug for another axiom screen. But I do want to tell you that this technology, it’s not 20 years away. It’s not something that has never been tried. It’s used in critical infrastructure all around the world. So between NASA, unfortunately, I put a bunch of american companies, I should have put some of our users here in South Africa, but it’s used by the United States Navy. It’s used in critical infrastructure all over the place, and it’s used by, in the last six years, 43 deployments here in South Africa among your peers. So, in mining, metals, materials, food and beverage, water, wastewater, and utilities, and more.


So there are folks even in your neck of the woods that are using canary that are having success with it. And so I don’t want to pitch you on something that hasn’t been tried and tested, and it is. So I’d encourage you reach out to folks in your industry or reach out to me and then I can connect to you. If a case study makes a difference, or if a phone call with someone that’s an advocate and a current user of canary and a specific deployment that’s similar to what you’re wanting to do, then I’m happy to connect you with those folks that can share a testimony on our behalf and give you more confidence as you move into a project. So obviously you want to pick fantastic technology that’s not going to leave you with technical debt. That’s going to really help you.


It’s going to propel you forward. And like we said earlier, technology, the software is not digital transformation. Like if you buy this, it’s not going to digitally transform your organization. However, there are some company values that are incorporated within software packages that you purchase that could leave you with headaches that hamper and inhibit your digital transformation journey going forward in the future. And so I want touch on just a few digital transformation considerations as you look at vendors, and this is not just for Canary, this is just generally true for anyone that you’re looking at. So consider your own level of varying digital maturity as an organization. There’s a ton of organizations that they don’t need to be very digitally mature, and hopefully that’s not like heresy.


But I used to work in manufacturing and machine shops, and there was a few instances where there were some enormous machines and they had some contracts and they were doing very archaic, really old work that was almost impossible to do in other ways. And so maybe they had some horizon, but really we do want these companies to move forward and to feel like they’ve got a path, a viable path, where they can digitally transform their operation. But that being said, assess your own degree of digital maturity. Greenfield versus brownfield highly performant, reliable, scalable solutions is a vendor that you’re looking at. Is their solution highly performant? Is it reliable? We love open source, but you need to assess what is the critical nature of what I’m doing. Should I put it on a raspberry PI? Maybe not.


Maybe so, but you want something that’s reliable and then scalable as well is huge. So, you know, not only do we have a scalable, super flexible architecture, this is not an architecture diagram, but it’s almost that flexible. So this is the minimum number of canary flow and ignition instances needed to deploy 100 tag system. Just kidding. This is just the step and repeat, but it’s important to have flexibility and openness in your deployment and scalability. So interoperability, just like Yaku said, does your software play well with others? That’s super crucial, because when you look at canary, when you look at ignition, when you look at flow, we’re not asking you to make one decision. That’s like, I don’t want to have to force you to say, you need to choose if this is right for the next 50 years.


I want you to be able to make a choice and say, is this right for me right now? And vendor lock in can be something that really kind of forces your hand and needing to have a ton of analysis of saying, do I really want to move forward with this? So interoperability is huge. Whether you use this stack together or you have any component of this stack as a part of another stack, that’s totally fine. And we, I think as a community value interoperability a ton. So deployment complexity and downtime.


So I don’t have time probably to share a case study, but we had a very large oil and gas company in California, and they ripped out a giant PI system, Aviva PI system, because typically they were having to go down for two or three or four days over a weekend, working 24 hours a day to update their PI system. And then when they brought in Canary, it was something that I was told they could do in about an afternoon or a half day, which for them was remarkable. So deployment complexity and downtime is huge when it comes to updates. Many of our customers will do an update in under an hour. Then long term support, that’s huge as well. We pride ourselves not only on our product, but the way that we support it, too.


So we really value our long term relationships with our customers and then licensing changes. So I’m skeptical. If people won’t sell you a perpetual license, I won’t go into it more than that, but I just feel like it says a statement about a future relationship. And so I’ll come on to our licensing as well, vendor stability, and then future innovation. So you guys are really oftentimes the ones that are innovating. So we’re innovating as well, and we’re doing our best to lead the way, but we also don’t want to be the limiting reactant or the bottleneck that keeps you from innovating.


So just a moment ago, I was talking with a gentleman that was doing something innovative, and these are the conversations that I love to have, because I love to come back to Canary and said, hey, this person, we by no means corner the market on cool things that are happening industrial automation. So it was cool to have that conversation because I get to come back and say, hey, this person is trying this, and I hadn’t thought about it. Can we support that? Are we going to at some point, be a product where they say, well, I can’t use canary with this cool idea that I thought of because they didn’t choose to innovate. So we really love to support all the projects that you guys are working on, that you men and women are doing out in the field.


I think I might be having a user error here. Okay. So, of course, there’s all those points that I just covered, but these are our commitments as a company. So we’re open, we’re secure, we’re adaptable. And that’s not just because it’s convenient to build a product that’s open, secure and adaptable, that it’s super easy to get the data out. But we just believe as a matter of principle that the data belongs to you. We want you to have access to it. We want it to be democratized. Just like element eight has their data liberation front breakfasts, where they’re liberating the data. So we want it to be democratized. Technical debt avoidance, of course, and then licensing to meet your needs.


So not only something that a solution that can do it all at a price that’s fair, but also in a flexible licensing that we can meet an extremely large, multi site, unlimited enterprise solution, as well as someone that’s just getting started in a small food and beverage manufacturing facility that has 10,000 tags. So I’ll go ahead and come on to strategic partnerships and end user opportunities. And really before. Yeah, sorry, I wanted to add one more thing on that previous slide. Basically, what I just talked about are like, the stakes we want you to have, whether canary is a part of it or know, we love the industry that’s taking place here in South Africa and around the world.


We want you to have a fantastic digital transformation experience, and we want you to avoid pitfalls that leave you with a five or six year period or whatever it is, where you’re like, man, we really were hamstrung by something that we got locked into. So we want you to be free to innovate, but still come alongside you and provide our software in a way that serves you. So strategic partners and end user opportunities. They are so strategic, we actually haven’t told anybody about them yet. This is an opportunity to take a 32nd mental break. Okay, well, I’ll just go ahead and talk without a slide. I apologize, but. Okay, here we go. Thank you. Awesome. Thanks for your patience.


So, for end users, I want to give you an actionable next step, and that’s if you’re an end user and you want to check out Canary or if you want toy around with it for any reason, then you can start out for free. So we have free demo licenses. We also do free proof of concepts, and then we have the Canary Academy training. As I mentioned earlier, we’re going to have a much more substantive, robust training that’s going to roll out here hopefully within the next four to six months. But we would love for you to become familiar with Canary so you can try it out right now. It’s for free.


And if you want to even just, you can do a sandbox online, or you can download the entirety of the Canary system just on a 30, 60 day, 120 day license, whatever you need to really prove it out. And then for our partners, our canary certified partners are really, like, the lifeblood of our company. And so if you’re a system integrator and you’d like to learn more about our partner program, then I’d love to connect with you, or you can visit our website. But we have partner program resources. We have extra training, we have discounts, and then, of course, you have an opportunity to shine with your integration services. So from, like, a business company strategy point of view, it’s not really possible generally to compete both on price and differentiation at the same time.


So you end up in a price war, or you need to choose, like, a full differentiation strategy. And that kind of fork in the road really only occurs after you, like, after an industry really becomes mature. In our case, as a company, we are very differentiated in our product offerings. So the performance that the canary system brings, the way that we come alongside of our customers, the way that we license our product, is something that’s differentiated. It’s different than what you may find elsewhere in the industry, but then also the way that we’ve chosen to structure our company and grow. We’re privately held. We’ve been around since 1985, and so we’re not like, a fail fast Silicon Valley startup that’s going to be here and then gone or acquired, and then your license changes. So that’s who we are.


And that’s something that coming from basically where we’re headquartered in Pennsylvania in the know, we’re tightly held. We’re a closely knit community. We take that same philosophy and approach to our dealings with our customers. So that’s what you can expect from us. And this also enables you to bring your best. If you’re a system integrator, it enables you to bring your best to the table in terms offering integration services. So canary, like I said, it’s got a really flexible architecture. Rather than being cookie cuttered into like, or pigeonholed into just a tiny way of deploying canary, there’s really a variety of solutions that you can bring to your end user customers. And so we enable you to do that through our architecture and really succeed in a way that you’re extra competitive at. Okay, so I’m not Superman.


I did just get a laser, though. If you want to try the canary system for free, you can do that. You can scan a QR code or go to Then also the canary ignition module for free. And thank you so much for joining. I really appreciate the opportunity to be up here to present with you all. It’s an honor to be in South Africa, and I appreciate it. I’ll open it up for questions. We’re a little tight on time, but if there’s a quick question, I would encourage you to save your more technical questions for Ken’s session later. Or we can connect in private, but are there any brief ones before I think we head to lunch? I don’t want to stand in the way of you in lunch. So who’s brave? And if no one, that’s fine. Awesome.


Well, thank you very much again, my name is Clark Bosser. I’d love to connect with you. Thank you all for taking the time away from work to come, to travel, to be here. We really appreciate it. And that’s it. I’ll go ahead and hand it over to, I think, Lenny. Thank you.

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