An overview of some of the many host applications that collect and use data from field devices such as RTUs, PLCs and flow computers is given and the need to provide multi-host access to these field devices is established. The challenges in providing multi-host access to field device networks is discussed as well as some of the current methods used. The concept of using a gateway to interface field device networks to wide area networks (WAN) is introduced with a brief discussion on the advantages of using TCP/IP for host to gateway transport. Several popular field device network protocols are assessed for their multi-host access capabilities with and without a field device network gateway.

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