A Guide to the Best Data Historian Software: A Review of the Canary Historian Versus Rockwell FactoryTalk or 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:

- Storing all data in raw format
- Easily accessible for users and data inquires
- Require little to no database management
- 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 OSIsoft 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.



OSIsoft Pi

Without arguement, OSIsoft has been an industry leader for years.  OSIsoft Pi has offered a data historian software solution for over 30 years and has thousands of installations around the world.  The Pi System is comprised of the Pi Server, the Pi Interface, and Pi Clients.  Below is a whiteboard illustration of the Pi System.




FactoryTalk SE Historian

Rockwell offers a suite of tools based around their FactoryTalk Historian which is essentially a private-labeled version of the Pi Server from OSIsoft. 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.






Canary Data Historian

The Canary Data Historian has a lot of similarities to the Pi Server and FactoryTalk in that it is built on a proprietary database that stores data in raw format.  One of the largest differentiators of Canary's data historian is the ease and speed of deployment.  All Canary tools are engineered to be installed without the need of a third party.  

Canary's database stands apart in it's speed.  With a write performance of over 2 million inserts per second and a read speed double that, Canary will not bottleneck at the historian.   

Canary offers a similar track record to OsiSoft with installs in 50 countries and over 18,000 installs.  

TrendLink is the Canary legacy trending tool and Axiom is the current Canary trending and dashboarding solution.  





System Size and Limitations

FactoryTalk SE Historian

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.  There is a bit of confusion here since FactoryTalk is essentially a Pi Server and FactoryTalk states different information regarding capacity.  Our assumption is that Pi is capable of more than what is listed based on industry acceptance.
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 appears to be based on OSIsoft Coresight and allows the Rockwell user to visualize their historical data on multiple platforms and see custom graphs alongside trends and data points.  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, now named Pi Vision, is similar if not the same as 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/Vision also offers multi-platform viewing as well as a level of customization that includes graphs and tables overlayed with trending.
Pi Data Historian Software

Sensor data stored in the Canary data historian can be trended and visualized in dashboards with Axiom.  Axiom trending software features a trending and visualization package that is designed to give the user the ability to quickly and easily compare historical data trends to current live data trends.  

Tools such as

  • Adhoc calculations with multiple tags
  • Annotations
  • Aggregated data based on time intervals
  • Events
  • Asset Management

and more, 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 also makes it easy for each user to build custom dashboards loaded with information.   The built in Edit Mode operates from any modern web browser on Linux, Mac OS, Android OS, and Windows machines, tablets, and most smartphones.

Live Axiom Demo

V17 Two



Neither Rockwell or OSIsoft Pi publish online pricing guides, making this final category difficult to compare.  However, Canary provides all pricing directly on their website.

Ultimately, whether you choose Rockwell, OSIsoft, or Canary, you will have a solid database with a tools that you can use to trend or visualize your industrial process data.  We believe that Canary offers the following advantages.

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
Live Axiom Demo

3. Fairly Priced

What good is a solution if it is too expensive or adds unnecessary cost?  Canary is priced in a way that you can add it to your operation and actually see an ROI in the first quarter.  Explore more pricing or request a customized quote from our site.


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.
Schedule Demo


Topics: Data Historian, News, Products

Jeff Knepper

Written by Jeff Knepper