My customer has a B1 brain board with digital I/O to a PLC and RS422 to an AS/400. We are replacing the AS/400 with a Windows-based system and I am exploring communication options. Our software typically uses OPC for communications to equipment like this and I would like to use OPC in this application. Our application may run on a virtual machine (not decided yet).
Option 1 - My first inclination is to replace the B1 board with an E1 board and talk to it over Ethernet. In this case I envision using the Opto 22 OPC server to talk to the E1 board over the LAN.
Option 2 - I may not be able to convince the client to replace the B1 board. If that is the case then I will need to continue to use RS422. My inclination would be to use a serial-to-Ethernet converter (such as those made by Perle) so that the Windows PC won't need to support a serial interface directly. I will have to do something like this if we end up running our application on a virtual machine.
Question 1 - If I go with Option 2 can the Opto 22 OPC server be configured to talk to a serial-to-Ethernet converter (by specifying the converter's IP address and TCP port number)?
Question 2 - Does Option 2 seem viable? Any issues that I might encounter?
Question 3 - Does the Opto 22 OPC server run as a Windows service?
Question 4 - Any other options I should consider or other recommendations?