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A Guide to the Best Data Historian Software: A Review of the Canary Historian Versus Rockwell FactoryTalk and OSIsoft Pi

Jun 27, 2016 4:22:00 PM / by Jeff Knepper

When a company decides to make a capital investment in data historian software, it can often be overwhelming.  Searching through the complete list of data historians in the process database family will reveal nearly a dozen data historians in the marketplace, not to mention open source options that an IT team may decide to attempt.  By definition, data historian software should be:

- highly scalable
- accessible
- non-relational (no SQL)
- secure with redundancy

The personal preference of the end user will greatly guide which data historian software they prefer, but a few important features such as scalability, speed, reliability, and overall system pricing, both initial and recurring should be heavily considered.

As an attempt to try to make the process easier, a direct comparison between the Canary software and both FactoryTalk and Pi has been compiled for your review.  Although subjects like ease of installation, training, and overall simplicity of use cannot be addressed, hopefully this comparison will identify strengths and weaknesses of the software.



FactoryTalk SE Historian

Rockwell offers a suite of tools based around their FactoryTalk Historian. Trending tools are offered through their VantagePoint software.  Below is a quick introduction to their data historian software as well as a quick trend mock up.



OSISoft Pi

Industry leader, OSIsoft Pi has offered a data historian software solution for over 30 years.  Installed in over 100 countries, the Pi System is familiar to most, comprised of the Pi Server, the Pi Interface, and Pi Clients.  Below is a whiteboard illustration of the Pi System.



Canary Data Historian

Created 31 years ago, the Canary Data Historian is built on a proprietary database and offers industry leading speed and reliability.  Used in 26 countries with over 18,000 installs, Canary offers an easy to use and quick to install solution.  TrendLink, the Canary legacy trending tool, has recently been replaced with Axiom, the Canary trending and analytic solution.  Axiom offers many useful tool sets, all available with a simple "right click".

System Size and Limitations

Data Historian Software for Rockwell FactoryTalk
Screen shot of FactoryTalk Historian SE statistics
As you can see from the FactoryTalk product page, only 500,000 tags can be monitored on a server with a top write speed of 100,000 tags per second.  Also of note is the limit of only 50,000 tags per interface with a maximum write speed of 25,000 tags per second.

OSIsoft Pi

No public information regarding system capacity or write speeds is made publicly available by OSIsoft.  It is mentioned that millions of tags can be stored and that 10,000's of points can be writen at sub-second intervals in their online brochure.
In 2014 a complete study was conducted by President Gary Stern and the lead engineering team.  The Canary system was tested to capacity and the following performance benchmarks were found:

Maximum Tag Count: 25 million plus
Maximum Write Speed: 2.8 Million data points per second (10,000 tag system, 100,000 tag system tested 18% slower)

Read full study here.


Data Visualization and Trending

FactoryTalk Vantagepoint allows the Rockwell user to visualize their historical data on multiple platforms and see custom graphs alongside trends and data points.  Billed as a manufacturing business intelligence solution that integrates all data into a single information management system, Vantagepoint seems to have some strengths as well as weaknesses.  The strengths seem to fall within it's ability to be customized to show the user the data they want to see.  However, for heavy trending analysis, the system seems rather limited.
Rockwell data historian software


OSIsoft Pi

OSIsoft's Coresight offering, seems to be a stronger contender than Rockwell for trending abilities.  The traditional trending software will allow a user to overlay several trends and compare data on the fly as well as historically without much fuss.  Coresight also offers multi-platform viewing as well as a level of customization that includes graphs and tables overlayed with trending.
Pi Data Historian Software

The Canary data historian comes to life with Axiom, its trending and visualization package that features specific tools designed to give the user the ability to quickly and easily compare historical data trends to current live data trends.  Tools such as calculated trending, annotations, high/low limits, time shifting, and statistical aggregates allow the Canary user the ultimate performance of data comparison.  Also multi-platform Axiom can be viewed on desktop, smartphone, or tablet and is server based, not requiring individual installation or app download.

Axiom Data Historian Software


AxiomView allows a custom interface that gives the user the ability to monitor the entire process and include needed trend graphs on one screen.  Each trend graph is completely operational, independent to the rest of the screen, and can be shared with anyone on staff.  No control is offered, so information is easily shared without concern of operational hazards.


trending solutions for data historians


Neither Rockwell or OSIsoft Pi publish online pricing guides, making this final category difficult to compare.  However, information can gladly be provided regarding Canary Data Historian pricing.
A smaller system of 250 data tags with an Axiom license is available for under $2,950.  As the tag count increases, the price per tag drastically decreases.  For instance, a 5,000 tag bundle featuring 5 Axiom client licenses sells for $34,950.  Better yet, for under $99,500 a complete multi-site system featuring corporate monitoring, 35,000 tags, and 10 Axiom license can be purchased.

5 Reasons to Try the Canary Data Historian Software

1. No Data Loss

At Canary, we believe you need access to all of your data, forever. That’s why we never discard any of your data. Other data historian software “compress” their archive which creates gaps or voids in your time series data resulting in the loss of time, value and quality parameters (TVQs).  Canary's data historian software does not do this, instead it permanently keeps all of your time series and process data.  To reduce the impact on storage space we use intelligent engineering techniques, but we never get rid of any TVQs!


2. Axiom Offers Superior Trending Software

Axiom trending software is built around the concept of quickly and simply offering analytical data in an easy to use program. This idea sounds like it should be easy to accomplish, but in reality, it is quite difficult. By listening to our customer's personal needs and requests, we built Axiom to offer the features you need and will actually use.


8 Things Axiom Offers We Know You Will Love:

  • - Available on multiple platforms, from desktop to smartphone
  • - Offer Click Once, server-centric installation, the software updates automatically
  • - Calculated trends with the option to write them back to the historian
  • - Charts show real-time data along with the historical data
  • - Time shifts and interval averages can be displayed on any trend
  • - Personal flexibility in arranging the display layout and formatting
  • - Staff can be fully trained with 20 minutes of review
  • - High and low limits with color and shading options as well as limit lines

3. Reliable Beyond Belief

Canary data historian software defines reliable, solid, data historian software that just works.  If you aren't already using our data historian software, specifically engineered to continue to run without constant supervision, you should ask yourself, “Why am I wasting money on the ridiculously expensive maintenance contract I'm currently paying another vendor?” Canary data historian software has a long life and proven history of reliability; some of our oldest systems have been running for more than 15 years, more than a century in “computer years”.  Our annual CustomerCare fees are extremely affordable and offer constant product upgrades, training, and continued support as needed.


4. Extreme Performance - It's Crazy Fast!

Let's talk speed.  The Canary data historian can record sub-second data down to 100 nanoseconds!  Not only can we handle fast data, we can handle large volumes of fast data.  Our system has been tested to 4,000,000 TVQs per second.  Now that's fast! Even more impressive, we can retrieve at a rate of 9,000,000 TVQs per second.

So how do we do it?  It's all in our proprietary data base.  Canary’s approach does not try to “pump up” a general purpose database and then “shoe horn” the data into it. Relational databases were not designed to handle the 24/7 data loads that occur in process monitoring. Generally speaking, our data historian is at least 10 (or more) times faster than any general-purpose database for these applications.


5. Incredible Customer Support

Data historian software is the one-thing we do.  We don't produce hardware, we don't function as a control system integrator, we produce lightening fast, ultra reliable data historian software. This singular focus enables and drives us to provide outstanding customer support and service. Outstanding support is always one of the top reasons our customers tell us that they have picked us.  Read the personal review by Mike Tufts, a long time Canary data historian software user below:

"We are very pleased with the Canary product. It is very efficient. We have been collecting 20,000 tags at one second intervals since 2006. It still runs flawlessly. We are just now taking the first 10 years of data offline to store it to the side, not because we have to, but just because we can. We haven’t had any issues with databases. Canary’s technical support is by far one of the best software providers technical support that we deal with. There is always someone available immediately if or when there is every any issues."
- Mike Tufts, Control Supervisor, City of Boca Raton Florida

We always respond with knowledgeable data historian and trending software support. You don't get the run around, "I'm sorry, that's not my department" is not in our vocabulary.  Our support staff is the definition of efficient.  They do not operate from a phone script and they will never use a troubleshooting manual.  They are an integral part of our software development family and understand our software from the top to the bottom.  Anytime you contact customer support, your call comes directly to our corporate office in Central Pennsylvania.  Have a question that is more suitable for one of our software engineers?  Our customer support department works directly alongside our engineering and development team.  In fact, Canary is one of the few software companies world-wide that handles all of their own customer support completely in-house.  Want to review it for personally?  Just call, (814) 793-3770, or email customer support and see how fast we reply!

If you would like a live demo of either Canary's data historian or plant historian software, as well as our data trending software, Axiom, easily schedule below.

A Guide to the Best Data Historian Software


Topics: Data Historian, News, Products

Jeff Knepper

Written by Jeff Knepper