OSI Pi versus Aspen Info Plus 21


Thread Starter


I am working for a company producing material in batches (Chemistry) we have to decide if we buy the OSI Soft PI Solution or the Aspentech Info Plus 21 Solution. (we also checked other providers)

In the financial perspective we saw, that for OSI we have to pay for the license in the first year approx. 200000 Euro for our site. For each following year approx. 40000 for the maintenance and support from OSI. On the other hand with Aspen we pay only approx. 40000 Euro per year for the license including maintenance and support.

We know that we need for both systems additional FTE/money for customising.

Are the both solutions comparable when they are installed by each company regarding their functionality? Do I need the same effort for both systems for customizing?

Is OSI so much better so that we will benefit from this initial invest of 200 000 in 3 Years?

I hope to get some answers.

I am not familiar enough with Aspentech to be able to give you much detail or a direct comparison.

Obviously, you need to ensure that you are comparing apples with apples. OSI PI has many different packages, and the more features you buy, the more it costs.

For a chemical industry process I would expect that OSI PI are recommending a minimum of ....

1. A PI Server - This is the base historian. pricing is based on the number of points you want to record

2. PI Datalink and PI Process Book. - These are the basic tools for building reports and displays

3. PI Batch - This is the framework for recording batch data.

I would probably consider these to be a minimum for your application and use the functionality and price of these components for a direct comparison between your offerings. Also, you may want to check how many users can access data concurrently from both systems.

There are several additional PI packages that may be extremely useful to you (Like AF, Notifications, RtWebparts etc), but equally you may never use.

I also found this post that may be of interest. (Remove any spaces from the link)
-> http://www.rjksolutionsltd.co.uk/forum/yaf_postst52_competitive-products.aspx

Hello Holger

I have used both systems and read the link supplied in the previous posting. I would largely agree with the opinions on the link although I have not used the batch components.

I would also add a couple of other things.

Out of the box I would say that PI has the edge in uptime (using PI High Availability - even more expensive) and would require less development/learning time from a basic database point of view. Maybe also PI is ahead in the connectivity stakes but with OPC this may not be an issue for you. Out of the box IP21 has some nice developer type features for creating custom data structures and perhaps is a bit more flexible.

Both systems have a web type interface or you could use another product say from Matrikon (used to be ProcessNet but not sure what its called these days) for user visualisation. There are others.

There are other large historian products also that would be considerably cheaper. But here's the crux - which is better depends on your requirements. I have seen numerous project where clients have failed to think seriously enough about what they want and why. Who the users are, where the users are based, what kind of information the users need, where the data comes from, how it needs to be manipulated. You get the picture. Maybe you've done this and written a good specification.

Anyway its not just a financial decision, for some applications maybe PI is worth the extra money. Define your requirements, get the quotes in, do an analysis and see if you can live with some requirements dropping out, or if the extra is worth it.

Hope this helps


Andrey Romanenko

Dear Holger,

Depending on your requirements you may get a third party solution for a fraction of that costs. What is the number of data points you need to record? For how long? What do you want to do with the data? What kind of reports do you need? Do you need OPC AE support? We have already installed another plant historian and data analysis system in a large petrochemical plant.


Best Regards,
Andrey Romanenko
[email protected]
Ciengis - Process Optimization and Advanced Control

Gerald Beaudoin

You will probably also want some of the add-ins that are available with PI. Check out the list. The one which I consider absolutely essential allows you to anotate the data. Very useful when you make changes or introduce any other anomaly to the data. Perhaps it is now part of the package...was not when we bought it.

Gerald Beaudoin
Thanks for your answers,

I have read also the additional link.

Your answers helped me a little bit.

I know it is difficult to answer from the distance because you do not know my exact requirements to a system.

We have in our evaluation 2 other systems. One needs much more customisation than OSI and Aspen. The last is not usable because of the amount of datapoints/continous data we want to save. (needs too much disk space and Servers; factor 10)

The problem I still have are the 200 000 Euros.

With this money it would be possible to get an external expert for customising our system and pay him 2 years. He could make trainings and the documentation in that time.

From OSI we would start with the PI server and the following applications:

1. A PI Server - This is the base historian. pricing is based on the number of points you want to record

2. PI Datalink and PI Process Book. - These are the basic tools for building reports and displays

3. PI Batch - This is the framework for recording batch data.

Gives Aspen me the same tools at the beginning (out of the box) or do I have to program these applications also.
(Then the difference in the price would shrink)

My Idea to ask in forum with specialists was to find probably someone who was standing before the same decision.

Anyway the discussion is very helpful.

Gerald Beaudoin

I believe it is part of the SDK (Software Development Kit) that PI offers along with their product. Unfortunately the OSI PI that we purchased was obtained from a third party vendor (Rockwell). As such, the SDK was not included or even available directly from PI, since the software was not purchased from them directly.

Something to watch for as this is an essential feature for any industrial archiving.

bob peterson

I have been peripherally involved in a couple of cases where people installed these kind of systems.

I am not sure they are worth what you get for most plants. A lot of time the nifty bells and whistles the salesman demonstrated to those responsible for buying the thing turned out to be almost useless to the plant. They were neat but served no real purpose.

I think you would be well served by sitting down with all the people involved at your plant and finding out what everyone really needs up front, versus what the software salesman convinced them they needed.

It may turn out that some relatively straightforward database system within your existing IT infrastructure can be created that your IT department can maintain that will do what you need without spending a bunch of money up front and more every year for "upgrades" and "support". I almost cringe suggesting getting your IT department involved in anything, but chances are they have most of what you need already and might well be able to gin up the rest of it for a lot less than a packaged solution.

Chances are if the data is useful, a fair number of people are going to want it, and want it in different ways. If you own the thing, it will be forever your problem to deal with these requests and demands. Your IT people probably have a system in place to deal with such things that forces the people demanding such things to find a way to pay for them. If it belongs to you, and your department has to pay for it, everyone is going to want everything because they perceive it as free.

There are also the almost constant hardware and software upgrades you are going to endure. Better off to let it be someone else's problem that is better set up for it then you are. There are also a lot of other issues that are not real obvious. Data and access security, remote access, and long term offsite archiving are just a few. You IT people probably have those things solved already.

I am not suggesting these kind of software packages are of no value, but you need to take a long, hard look at it up front. Don't spend a ton of money thinking you are getting a usable system. What you are getting is a framework. Putting the pieces together might well cost you more than the software did.

Paul Edwards


Have you considered Wonderware Historian, it will be cheaper and faster as well as quicker to get running. I am biased though :)

In my experience its the user tools that make the system and how easy they are to use. I am not an expert on either but I believe that Aspentech data retrieval is a lot slower than PI which could be an issue with many users.

You need to look at the client tools from the point of view of different users on the system. Casual users will want web based tools which they can use on an infrequent basis. This access needs to be licensed on a concurrent basis so you are not paying for a license for a user who only accesses once a day. You will also have regular users who want a detailed look at the data. these users may need a more feature rich client tool with their own dedicated license to always guarantee them a connection.

Why not ask the vendors to set up a pilot system for 30 days or so and identify various users and allow them to test the systems you are interested in. It will be much safer then committing to a large capital outlay only to find out the product is not quite what you want. If they will not do that then do not consider the product.

I just came upon these posts, and I'm interested in what you have (by now I'm sure already) decided to buy, and what were the deciding factors.

ACo (my firm) is a systems integrater for the last 17 years. We work with Aspen a lot, and PI some, and have done numerous comparisons for clients over the years.

No doubt, the license issue is a big issue for first timers. That being said, in general, it is a matter of the processes involved, the IT environment, and budget. There is not one "right" answer.

Anyway, I hope whatever you decided that it turned out well for you.

My company has reliable and effective plant information system. We offer our plant information system with reasonable price and high quality product and service. We already deployed our plant information systems worldwide and we worked in this industry more than 10 years. If you have any query, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you-*

> Is there any alternative other then OSI PI, Info Plus 21 and Wonderware
> Historian?
I have fallen a little behind and I see that this post is 4 weeks old but I have to say that the choice of other historians depends rather on
the requirements. For some applications, one is restricted to a smaller range of choices. Of course, we offer one too!

Peter Clout
Vista Control Systems, Inc.

[email protected]



A little late but.............

With Honeywell’s acquisition of Matrikon, a really strong alternative is Honeywell's PHD as the database with Operational Insight as the web-based client. It offers a great combination – and the backing of a top company.

Check it out!
i just stumbled across this page now (May 19, 2012) and know this is a late response.

We have worked in the process control industry (power, paper, steel) for 20 years and have worked with all historians mentioned. All posts that say develop your own historian using SQL should be discarded. SQL is a relational database, historians are real-time series collectors that are optimized for stored massive amounts of data AND ... retrieving the data quickly.

Don't be fooled by people that say SQL can do the same thing, it CANNOT and will NEVER compete with the proprietary algorithms and data storage techniques that these companies like OSI, Aspentech, EDNA, iFix/Proficy historian use. Same with Wonderware inSQL, good for a few thousand tags, horrible for anything much bigger. Plus it's not an enteprise solution, you are not going to put a inSQL historian on your corporate network and have 30 data sources sending real-time time series data to it. Don't believe me, go and ask inSQL for 10 years of vibration that is saving every .001 mills and watch what happens.

As far as vendor, OSI is THE premier historian. They built their technology in the 80's when disk space was expensive. they developed algs that save massive amounts of data in small space because they had to. Now of days, with disk space so cheap, companies think they don't need to worry about performance anymore, just write everything out. That's all fine and dandy until look at retrieval times.

We have seen dozens of vendors abandon OSI PI for writing their own historian (Emerson is famous at it), then 5 years later they are back to OSI PI because their experiments fail. (mostly because they again think SQL is an alternative to real-time series data archives). So don't get fooled into buying a piece of crap, or developing you own unless you just have a few thousand tags and will never expand it.

Likewise, don't ever get IT involved and ask them to develop you something. They will use SQL. I can tell you of a company right now that did just that, 10 years later they have no idea how to handle all the data, so they prune it all so only has 6 months because performance is such an issue. They have a staff of 17 people in IT, DBA's, security that try to maintain it and cannot add anymore improvements because they are boxed into crappy code they developed 15 years ago.

OSI PI is best, most mature, most expensive. 200+ interfaces (although most just use OPC, Modbus, DNP these days). Love their product, hate their sales and pricing model. Depends on who you talk to in company on what price get. Negotiate hard with them, tell them it's a competitive bid, and will get much reduced pricing. If they know you only are looking at them they will take complete advantage of it. Private company (est $250M/year), Kennedy (owner) sold out 49% to private equity firm so return on investment is driving their business model now (hence the "get what you can mentality).

Aspentech, great product, good pricing, mature. They are bigger than think, $2B public company that make a lot of sofware products. IP21 just being one of them.

inSQL Wonderware. Run from this product, not enteprise and built on SQL. Invensys public company (london), $2B year.

iFix/Proficy (GE owns now). Used to be low cost alternative to OSI PI, with GE owning it now, forget that. Pretty good product, good web based tools, tools kinda clumsy to use. Huge Public company, $200B/year

EDNA-Instep. Small company, good product, config tools a little outdated (mostly config files), kinda like OSI PI in the late 80's where everything done on command line with pidiff. Private company, estimated $10M/year

Iconics Hyperhistorian. Intrigued by this product. They build a swinging-door alg on 64bit platform from ground up. They are know mostly for their SCADA/HMI software (Iconics Gensis), but have developed a historian that looks really good. We are going to tear into it over next upcoming months to see if this truly is the low-cost alternative to OSI PI. Private company, est. $100M/year

Matricon (now honeywell) ProcessNet/Operational Insight. Web based interface for OSI PI, others. They developed this because OSI PI was so far behind in their web development. Lawsuit between OSI and Matrikon, OSI wins because they were telling people to buy 1 processbook to develop graphics, then convert processbook to their web platform. Settlement involved all customers having to purchase the PISDK for the PI server ($$$) if they want to develop against it. Absurd because if they take away the PI SDK on the PI server, it won't work. Classic argument like MSFT saying need to have iExplorer in windows or windows won't work.

In any event, operational insight is decent product, a lot better than the crappy web parts that require sharepoint with OSI PI. But Matrikon has a sales mentality. Sell you everything they can even if don't need. Support is pretty poor from our experience. Other products they make are nightmare (tunneler). Hopefully Honeywell will correct, but have doubts.

All of the above is my humble opinion only, don't take it to the bank, based on my experience over the last 20 years when OSI was mostly used on VAX/VMS and had 10 people working in Cali for them. If disagree, that's ok, everyone likes what they use and hates change. Fortunately, we have worked extensively with every product above from installing, developing against, to maintaining and are vendor neutral.

bob peterson

Good trick.

I got their email the other day too.

never heard of them before.

i wonder how they can pull off such a thing.