Easy as PI: Integrators

Posted: 26 MAY, 2020

AVEVA™ PI System™ is a powerhouse for collecting real-time data, contextualizing it, and storing it. But what if you want to take things a step further?

Enter PI Integrators.

John Baier, VP of Solution Strategy in the Cloud Analytics Practice, and Landry Khounlavong, Strategic Product Manager, are both intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of PI Integrators, making them the perfect people to interview about what they are, why we made them, and where they're headed.

What are PI Integrators?

“In short, it's a data preparation tool that allows you to easily send operations data to advanced analytics platforms,” says Khounlavong, who has worked with PI System since 2010 and has held numerous positions in technical support, cloud support strategy, and product marketing. Integrators were “built to speak the language of higher analytics,” according to Baier, who has directed both engineering and product management organizations, “they translate OT to IT.”

Why did we create them?

Many products in the analytics space don't have a way to query time-series data, such as what's in PI System, and data preparation takes too much time for operations people to be involved in the process. Converting time-series data into something that analytics tools can work with is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. So, Baier says, we created PI Integrators to convert that information quickly and easily, letting the customer get back to what matters most: analyzing the data.

Another major reason: PI Integrators allow customers to send contextual data, including asset and event context, so there's an enriched data set going to these external platforms. “If you send raw data from an industrial operation without context to a data lake, it's going to look completely foreign to a data scientist, because they won't get the naming and nuances of the operation,” says Khounlavong, highlighting a Gartner article about the common ways data lakes fail.

How does the underlying technology work?

“Most of the product is in the base layer,” says Baier, “it takes time-series data and makes it conform to a row/column format while enriching it with context” while following data cleansing rules that the customer can set up. There are also adaptable pieces that work on top of this base layer to natively connect and send the enriched dataset to different data lakes, data warehouses, and messaging hubs.

How is it changing the way our customers do business?

“The most salient value proposition is saving time,” says Khounlavong. The people who work in operations understand the data they use day to day, so they're often the ones asked to prepare it. If they do it on their own, they're likely using spreadsheets or may even write code. With PI Integrators, it's a drag-and-drop, web-based interface with native integration to various advanced analytics platforms. You can upload data in bulk, in scheduled loads, or stream it live.

What platforms do PI Integrators work with?

AWS, ESRI ArcGIS, Hadoop, Microsoft Azure, and SAP HANA. In addition, PI Integrator can send to destinations such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database and others. If there's a need for a destination we don't support, we can build support for it.

What updates are on the horizon for PI Integrators?

Very recently, PI Integrators have been enhanced with more destinations. The recent version adds the ability for customers to send data from PI System to Google Cloud Storage, BigQuery, and Pub/Sub as well as SAP HANA (via ODBC). Beyond that, “we continue to update how we support existing destinations since these are native integrations to live-and-evolving advanced analytics platforms, so as other platforms update their services, we're updating as well,” says Khounlavong. "And, we are always listening to customer feedback on new destinations and feature requests.

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