OPAF and other Open Automation initiatives are making rapid progress to develop interoperable, plug-and-play automation. The goal is to develop a standards-based, open, secure and interoperable process control architecture that can integrate multiple control, safety, enterprise and other systems. Unfortunately this will not happen tomorrow but is likely to take several years.
The capability to connect and the availability of data will increase dramatically and as the IEC104 protocol struggles in managing large amount of data it opens the door to other more modern protocols as the emerging OPC UA protocol which most probably be the future standard of choice.
Nevertheless, for OPC UA to be completely adopted, the challenge of having a reliable communication infrastructure still remains.