Sparkplug is a specification developed by the Eclipse Foundation for the industry that integrates certain standards and structures into MQTT communication.
The Eclipse Foundation is a non-profit community that supports open source projects worldwide. Founded in January 2004, it provides an open and transparent community around the Eclipse project. Based in Europe, the Foundation has several hundred members, all of whom see open source projects as an important factor in the industry.
The Eclipse Foundation is funded by annual contributions from its members. It has full-time staff dedicated to supporting and maintaining the community.
In 2020, many of the Eclipse Foundation members created the Sparkplug Working Group. The goal is to develop a standard that makes it easier for vendors, manufacturers, and users to work in the Internet of Things (IoT). Working closely together, many experts have developed the open-source Sparkplug specification. A member of this working group is also inray partner HiveMQ.
Industries and distribution
The Sparkplug specification has already secured its firm place in the industry. In the IT and OT industries, one frequently encounters the use of Sparkplug. There are many different industries that use Sparkplug. Areas of application can be found, for example, in geo-information systems or in the automotive industry.
In summary, Sparkplug can be used wherever OT talks to IT.
Communication with the Sparkplug specification is based on the MQTT principle. Several communication participants send their data and information to an MQTT broker, which then distributes it. The communication participants in Sparkplug are divided into nodes and applications.
Nodes make non-sparkplug capable machines and devices sparkplug capable in the OT. They are responsible for connected devices and take care of sending and receiving data. If a device or machine is capable of implementing the Sparkplug specification, this device is traded as its own node and can communicate directly with the MQTT broker. Example nodes in Sparkplug communication are IoT gateways, or a machine itself that speaks Sparkplug.
Applications (Application Nodes) are communication nodes that reside in IT and can receive and process information from the MQTT broker. For example, ERP systems or databases that are MQTT-capable are called applications in the network.