In Part 1 of our NIWeek 18 blog, we featured an overview of some software-focused product announcements from National Instruments: LabVIEW 2018, LabVIEW NXG 2.1, and FlexLogger
In Part 2, we continue the overview with a look at InstrumentStudio and SystemLink
NI introduced InstrumentStudio software to improve the usability and add new capabilities to their modular PXI test platform, which will help customers make the most of their investment in the PXI hardware. InstrumentStudio provides a soft front panel to ease the configuration of test systems. This display can capture screenshots and show measurement results from multiple test instruments in one unified view. The software eases the debugging process by enabling test engineers to monitor PXI equipment with InstrumentStudio while test sequences are running simultaneously. InstrumentStudio can also save test configurations of devices at a project-level, allowing them to be shared and more easily repeated. NI is providing InstrumentStudio as a free download for use with existing NI products and it will be included with any new PXI purchases.
The last overview was saved for what we view as the most important software announcement of NIWeek 2018 – SystemLink, NI’s new application software for managing distributed test systems. Connected embedded systems are rapidly growing larger and more complex, driven by the strong demand and challenging technological requirements for applications such as industrial IoT (IIoT), smart cities, 5G networks, and electric vehicles. Engineering organizations are struggling to manage the complexity and cost of designing, building, and monitoring these new systems – especially as they scale. The need to balance these demands with a desire to maximize their extensive investment in legacy systems adds further challenges.
NI designed SystemLink with the goals of helping its customers increase operational efficiency while minimizing the expense of maintenance. To do this, SystemLink provides a centralized interface that is capable of coordinating software deployment across numerous systems. Critically, while it is designed to effectively support LabVIEW, TestStand, and NI’s hardware platforms, SystemLink has an open architecture enabling the platform to integrate with more systems within extensive (multi-tenant) IIoT deployments. The management platform can be accessed from anywhere to automate deployment and test procedures, manage remote device configuration, and monitor system performance. A demonstration provided during the introduction showed the ability of SystemLink to send text notifications of an alarm condition. An engineer can then use the program remotely to load new software into a test system and restart the test. SystemLink also provides robust data visualization capabilities to help control the cost of designing web-based management solutions. For example, it can aggregate data from multiple systems to create custom graphical dashboards. NI also provides a hosted cloud service for automating the publication of data to customer dashboards and remote operator interfaces.
By all accounts, NI has delivered a highly capable platform with the introduction of SystemLink. Functionality of the platform at its initial release already addresses many of the systems management, data visualization, and test monitoring challenges facing engineers today. We look forward to seeing the ongoing improvements and new capabilities added to the platform and extensions contributed to NI’s extensive resource library by their R&D team and active user community.
NI continues to invest heavily in advancing the technologies of test, measurement, and industrial networking. They channeled 18% of their annual revenue into R&D to develop new solutions for helping engineers to ”future faster” (the tagline for NIWeek 2018). The product updates and launches introduced at the event show the results of that investment.
The most significant announcements over the past two years were software-focused – demonstrating that NI recognizes the growing importance of software to their customers that are driving rapid engineering innovation. Further validation can be found in the news from NI that upcoming software releases are shifting to a 3 month release cycle, shortened from the previous 6 month cadence….perhaps NI will have to start bringing analysts and users out to Austin more than once a year.
For further news and analysis of the NIWeek 18, please see our recently published VDC View, NIWeek 2018: Instrumenting Industries for Intelligence.