Upgrading from iFIX - Ignition or VTScada?

Hello,
I have been investigating options to replace our iFIX installation. After years(!) of research and reading forums and sales/technical demos and writing justifications, our project has finally been approved. To be honest, not sure if Ignition is going to be right for us, as we are PLC/SCADA experts, but not coders. We’re also looking at VTScada and it has a lot of really cool features, like being able to rename a tag without breaking any links or historical data, operators can right click an alarm and it takes them to the page where that tag is shown, really good trending, slick change management and easy redundancy.

Where I’m struggling is that Ignition seems like a more “modern” product (important as we try look forward to adding extra AI/ML type applications in the next 5 years) but also will require a lot of development to actually make it work well. We have to use quantitative rankings to justify our choice and I can’t figure out a way to quantify “feels more modern”.

Another deal breaker is that the modbus driver doesn’t support dual IPs. We use that for everything, and the Exchange module feels like a non-robust work-around.

I’m not sure what I’m asking for…convince me the learning curve for all of us on python, css, sql is worth it or not?

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Have you priced out both options because VTScada does not have an unlimited model like Ignition and the cost can add up quickly.

You may find that a third party like Kepware can support dual IPs but that will cost extra.

As far as it being worth it. I am biased but I would say absolutely yes! The thing about Ignition as a platform is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Over the years of using the product I have found that using the native tools and doing direct bindings will save you from using a lot of the coding part of the product.

You can also use both products for free and judge for yourself. I have not found a SCADA product as flexible or as powerful as Ignition. So if you are looking to do advanced things in the future, go with Ignition.

This is a very long topic, but it is worth reading or at least a skim:

I work for the government, so i am in a similar situation in that i need to justify, in writing, why I am using anything other than the absolute cheapest solution available.

Like @brandon1 mentioned, the unlimited version is huge, if you even can price that out with the other guys it will almost certainly be cost prohibitive. To your point, there definitely is a learning curve, and its typically steeper, but on the upside you gain access to some extremely powerful tools.

I haven’t reviewed VTScada’s licensing, but that is another major consideration. Ignition’s support is excellent, and very reasonable.

Overall, I think it absolutely worth it taking on python, css, sql etc. but im an ignition fanboy and love learning these new things.

Tell me more about how this is supposed to work?

Our modbus PLCs each have two NICs. one is connected back to the plant network via fiber network, the other is connected back via a cell modem path, completely separate. So our current MBE driver with iFIX has a primary and backup path to each device. VTScada has this built in as well. But with Igntion, we would have to use a user built “Exchange” module that is essentially a UDT type that will swap the device IP based on a trigger (presumably we’d also need to code test for comm failure on the fiber).

I think this speaks to a more general feeling that Ignition is better suited to manufacturing/MES type applications and less to the true (RTU/PLC/HMI) SCADA model.

You can get the redundancy you want with kepware:

Yes, its an additional cost, but a viable option. Credit to @brandon1 on this.

Yes I’ve read that and doesn’t seem like anyone has used VTScada. One person mentions it but there is no follow up. As mentioned above it has some really nice features that I think make it a super easy sell for our operators.

We have it quoted out and the price is almost identical, and yes it includes unlimited clients. not unlimited tags, but our tag counts are not very high (~30,000 max)

I actually did read the entire thread, and one thing nearly everyone agreed on was that most of the competitors do more for you out of the box. As a result integrators may be able to stand up a system more quickly.

That said, after you have learned how to develop in ignition you can develop rapidly. Personally, ill never use anything else again.

While hard to quantify, the support can be amazing. I don’t have a support contract, yet I have posted bugs in this forum and received official fixes within the hour - with the fix being rolled into the next release.

This is such a breath of fresh air compared other vendors who will reply to your fully described bug submission with “can you send us a minimal project that shows the issue?”, and that’s for people I did have a support contract with.

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The very last option:

That is simply amazing. Once I called WonderWare without a support contract and they responded with basically this “We helped someone calling from your organization once before, call back when you have a support contract”

Forum support here is better than most paid support I’ve encountered in industry.*

*This comparison excludes Beckhoff support, as it’s free. And it’s very good.

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I agree, support here seems very good, but the users I’ve talked to for VTScada say the same thing, very responsive support and it’s only 15% compared to Ignition’s 20%. So that doesn’t help us narrow it down unfortunately.

I’m very happy with Ignition, and far prefer it to every other HMI/SCADA product I’ve used (quite a few). But I have no experience with VTScada, so I can’t give you an informed comparison of the two. Maybe someone else here has current experience with both.

I did find the learning curve somewhat steep at the beginning with Ignition, but it wasn’t any worse than WW InTouch. After the initial learning curve I like working with Ignition. I can’t say that for InTouch. I’m not sure what VTScada’s leaning curve is like.

I just quickly looked at VTScada, and it actually looks pretty good. One thing Ignition has over it is being operating system agnostic. It is also database agnostic, not sure if VTScada has that.

I asked because I have an alternate Advanced Modbus module to which I could add this feature. (It is focused on Server support, but has symmetrical client features as well.)

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Why not download both and try for yourself? With Ignition there is no need for a development license. Try as long as you want and use the resettable two hour demo mode. Not sure about VTScada and how their software licensing works.

As already stated, you can’t beat Inductive’s support. Inductive University is awesome for training purposes. What does VTScada offer for learning and training? I think you need to do the comparisons on your own though.

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VTScada has two levels of training, Level 1 ($1,000 / attendee) and Level 2 ($1,250 / attendee). IMO that’s a win in the Ignition column. They also offer a free trial, but it is 90days.

I haven’t used VTSCADA but looking at the promo stuff I do like the fact that the alarm status tables have the ASM/HPHMI alarm icons. I like the simple icons as well that show ack and status, rather than Ignition’s current long line of text “Active, Unacknowledged”:
image

I might create an idea for this.

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I have a good amount of VTScada experience, if you have a lot of scripting going on in IFix, stay away from VTScada. It is great for basic applications and the driver set is top notch.The polling driver is worth the money alone for a lot of applications. But it’s scripting interface leaves a lot to be desired and can make it hard to enable functionality that tends to be built in the background in a lot of IFix applications.

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Could you give an example @b.peck? I know we have some projects that might use VTScada in the future and I’m curious what limitations you have ran into.