About the flagship store
Hilscher Gesellschaft für Systemautomation mbH has worked in close partnership with the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, specifically the working groups tasked with facilitating the digital transition in industrial production. Together, they created the concept of an OI4 Community App Store with a fully featured and scalable e-commerce marketplace on https://www.oi4appstore.com. Preparing for the official launch at SPS 2023 with other app partners from the OI4 universe, Hilscher is responsible for running the new marketplace. And a true marketplace it is, as each app publisher brings their app to market. The system allows real transactions, that is, the purchasing of apps from the OI4 Community App Store, using industry-standard payment methods, such as credit cards, direct debit, or invoices. The app publishers are the legal sellers of the apps, which means that any contract that is formed exists directly between the app publisher and the app users.
The technology behind the OI4 Community App Store
The technology making the OI4 Community App Store possible relies on containers, an open source solution for virtually running apps on industrial PCs and edge gateways. Any app that is available as a container app (e.g., for Docker) can be delivered through the OI4 Community App Store. Once delivered, running the apps is also made easier by the OI4’s efforts at simplification and standardization. A concept has been prepared for integrating an interface, defined by OI4, into the already available edge management systems. The API could in the future make it possible to deliver apps from the OI4 Community App Store to a type of digital delivery address. The edge management system can then distribute and install the apps around the shop floor. Hilscher’s own device and application management solution netFIELD.io is one such edge management system and will work in tandem with the OI4 Community App Store.
But the app store should not be limited to apps alone: Consulting and other services and hardware like gateways, edge gateways, or industrial PCs designed for industrial communication could be sold over the Internet. With this in mind, Hilscher already started before the launch of the OI4 Community App Store to find interested partners and providers, a search that intensified after the launch. All enterprises interested in the OI4 marketplace’s concept and the ability to use it as vendor or customer can contact Hilscher for more information.
Encrypted and licensed
Automatic encryption means that the IP in the app is safe from product piracy and reverse engineering. The right software key (ticket) to activate the app after download from the OI4 Community App Store is made available as part of the transaction. When the license is activated, it is bound to the device it is activated on, which stops the software from being duplicated, e.g., by cloning the Docker container.
To keep rights management as straightforward as possible for the app users, Hilscher has worked with Wibu-Systems to create a dedicated license server app, the netFIELD App License Server, that can run on the same edge device as the actual application. The license server app stays in the background to communicate with CodeMeter License Central, where licenses are created, rolled out, and managed automatically. The end users simply select the available licenses for the app they want and activate them with a single click.