Last Updated: July 18, 2023
Sparkplug is an open software specification that provides MQTT clients the framework to seamlessly integrate data from their applications, sensors, devices, and gateways within the MQTT Infrastructure. It is specifically designed for use in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) architectures to ensure a high level of reliability and interoperability.
Download the latest version of the Sparkplug specification.
You can find Sparkplug’s version history on this page.
The resources page of the Sparkplug website is a good place to start.
HiveMQ, a member of the working group, published a comprehensive blog series on Sparkplug.
No. Sparkplug is simply a specification that defines how best to use MQTT in real-time, mission-critical industrial infrastructures. Sparkplug addresses the following components within an MQTT infrastructure:
MQTT has emerged as a dominant messaging transport across the IT and OT sectors. By design, the MQTT specification does not dictate a Topic Namespace or any payload encoding. But as IoT is implemented by device OEMs in the industrial sector, having a well-defined Topic Namespace and payload encoding enables greater interoperability and a better experience for the end customer.
The Internet of People exploded because of two open technologies: First, HTTP defined a data exchange protocol. Then there was HTML, which was used to “define” the data sent by HTTP. Together, HTTP and HTML, these technologies provided the basis for the explosion of the Internet of People.
We must take the same approach for the IIoT to obtain the same adoption and growth rate. The widely adopted MQTT message transport plays the role of HTTP, providing an open and interoperable messaging framework. But the IIoT is missing the “definition” of the data in the payload. Therefore Sparkplug can be thought of as the HTML of IIoT.
Sparkplug infrastructure will not replace OPC but will rather complement it. In existing brownfield industrial sites, OPC-UA polling engines are used to gain access to the raw process variables, for example. That said, Sparkplug is a better choice than OPC-UA in many scenarios. Here are a few points:
Moreover, the Eclipse IoT working group is home to a variety of protocol implementations, such as Eclipse Californium (CoAP), Eclipse Cyclone DDS (DDS), Eclipse Milo (OPC-UA), and Eclipse Paho (MQTT), among others. We believe that, ultimately, it is up to developers to pick the right tool for their projects.
The working group hosts the Sparkplug specification project along with Eclipse Tahu, an existing open source compatible implementation of the specification. Sparkplug was contributed to the Eclipse Foundation in 2019 by Cirrus Link Solutions.
Anyone can implement the Sparkplug specification for any purpose without fee or royalty under the terms of the Eclipse Foundation Specification License (EFSL). As per that license, attribution must be provided in any software, documents, or other items or products you create pursuant to the implementation of the contents of the Sparkplug specification. In addition, anyone can freely use the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) to test that their implementation of Sparkplug is compatible with the specification. To have your implementation listed as compatible and/or to use the Sparkplug Compatible logo with your product, read more on our Get Listed page.
Sparkplug®, Sparkplug Compatible, and the Sparkplug Logo are trademarks of the Eclipse Foundation.
You can find the official list of Sparkplug Compatible products on the working group’s website. Each product listed has been validated to pass the Sparkplug Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) and is thus fully compliant with the specification.
Yes, it is. Cirrus Link Solutions, a member of the Eclipse Foundation and the Sparkplug working group, owns a patent related to the Sparkplug specification. The patent, titled Sparkplug-aware MQTT Server, was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and was granted document ID US 11121930 B1.
The Sparkplug working group operates under the Eclipse Intellectual Property Policy. Under that policy, Cirrus Link granted an irrevocable (subject to a defensive termination provision), non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, transferable patent license with respect to the final specification. This applies to anyone that makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, and imports Sparkplug implementations, so long as such implementations successfully pass the corresponding Sparkplug Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) and remain in compliance with the Eclipse Foundation TCK License. This also allows customers to purchase their Sparkplug solution from any vendor whose solution has successfully passed the corresponding Sparkplug Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) and who remain in compliance with the Eclipse Foundation TCK License.
One example is Jakarta EE, the successor to Java Enterprise Edition, which is a comprehensive set of specifications that have been maintained under the Eclipse Intellectual Property Policy since 2018.
Members of the Jakarta EE working group include Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Red Hat, among others. All these organizations own significant patent portfolios, and many of those patents apply directly to Jakarta EE.
Since its inception in 2018, we are not aware of any legal action in relation to patents against holders of Jakarta EE implementations that pass the Jakarta EE Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK).
The Sparkplug Compatible program aims to provide integrators and end-users with an easy way to procure devices and software products that are fully compatible with the Sparkplug specification.
If you are a technology provider, getting your products listed showcases a commitment to Sparkplug while making you a participant in a thriving marketplace. By joining the compatibility program, you will gain the confidence of current and future Sparkplug adopters by demonstrating that your product meets stringent quality and interoperability requirements. In turn, this helps build your brand and expand your market reach.
The steps for joining the program are described on the Get Listed page of the Sparkplug website.
Participation in the Sparkplug Compatible program is reserved for members of the Sparkplug Working Group.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone can implement the Sparkplug specification for any purpose without fee or royalty. You can also use the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) to validate your implementation free of charge.
The Sparkplug specification and TCK are developed in the open on GitHub. You can find the repository here: https://github.com/eclipse-sparkplug/sparkplug
Anyone can propose changes to the specification or TCK by opening an issue on the repository or through a pull request. You must sign the electronic Eclipse Contributor Agreement (ECA) to authorize us to use your contributions.
If you wish to influence the future of Sparkplug directly or participate in the Sparkplug Compatible program, we recommend joining the working group as a member. All working group members have the right to designate a committer of the specification project. Moreover, strategic members get a guaranteed seat on the Sparkplug specification committee, which ratifies new specification versions. Email us at email@example.com for more information.
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