The benefits and challenges of IT-OT convergence
As organizations assess their priorities for 2021, IT-OT convergence should be high on the list. For those who might not be familiar with these terms, IT refers to all of the resources that are generally associated with enterprise IT, such as servers, databases, and so on. OT on the other hand refers to operational technology.
Some examples of OT include industrial sensors, manufacturing equipment, and the supporting infrastructure. In simpler terms, IT typically refers to business systems, while OT deals with an organization’s physical operations.
In a factory for example, IT systems handle all the data related to sales, inventory, payroll, and anything related to the business, while OT systems encompass all the systems on the assembly line and supporting components.
The Benefits of IT-OT Convergence
There are several benefits to achieving interoperability between IT and OT systems, although the benefits vary from one organization to the next based on use case.
One of the primary benefits to the convergence of IT and OT systems is that bringing systems together enables an organization streamline its processes, thereby helping the organization to operate more efficiently. If an organization’s IT and OT systems are tied together, it is far easier for IT analytics to be applied to OT systems.
In the case of a manufacturing facility for instance, this may mean that IT can track how long each step of the manufacturing process takes, thereby helping to spot production bottlenecks. These inefficiencies can be eliminated by purchasing faster equipment or adding additional staff.
At the same time, the opposite is also true. The IT analytics system may identify that a machine on the factory floor operates at a rate far below its duty cycle. If this happens, it can increase the rate of production to take advantage of the machine’s available capacity or reduce its operational costs by trading the oversized machine in for a smaller version.
Another potential benefit to the convergence of IT and OT systems is that it may allow an organization to bring long-standing IT best practices to its operational systems. For example, an organization may be able to extend its IT patch management to its industrial IoT hardware or to other OT systems. That way, the organization can ensure that OT devices are always operating with the latest firmware.
In other cases, however, legacy OT equipment may be difficult to patch and update. That can lead to security breaches, so organizations need to take an inventory of their OT systems and separate legacy OT systems from other parts of the network to prevent an attack.
To read the complete article, visit IoT World Today.