Industrial IoT and IT/OT Convergence: How to Reap Benefits and Avoid Pitfalls
What is in this article?
- Industrial IoT and IT/OT Convergence: How to Reap Benefits and Avoid Pitfalls
- Technologies that enable IT/OT convergence
- Benefits of IT/OT convergence
- Challenges and issues surrounding IT and OT integration
- Managing the interworking between IT and OT
- IT/OT integration dangers and pitfalls
Technologies that enable IT/OT convergence
While the economic benefits are defined by each organization, the technologies that enable IT/OT convergence are currently available and are rapidly proliferating due to IoT, Big Data and the drive to more intelligent SCADA networks. The enabling technologies include:
- High power/performance sensors, controllers, RTUs and PLCs;
- Operating systems that include standard communication stacks and security protocols;
- Low-power Ethernet, Wi-Fi and wireless communications to sensors and controllers; and
- Standard protocols, such as MODBUS, DNP3 and IEC 60950.
There are numerous companies that provide products in each of these areas. However, it is the high-speed, high-capacity communications link that is the true enabler in IT/OT convergence. With high data capacity in OT networks, the overhead associated with Internet and security protocols is no longer critical to network latency and SCADA applications for wired or wireless communications. OT and IT networks are now using the same underlying Network and Transport layers, thus clearing one of the fundamental barriers to convergence.
However, the careful selection of technology for IIoT or industrial applications helps drive the convergence of IT/OT systems. For example, in electric utilities, the rollout of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and distribution automation (DA) networks is truly an OT application. The source of the data will fuel IT/OT convergence, because it is the data-analytics applications—such as outage detection, fault management, prepay and others—that bring value to the smart grid.
For oil and gas production, increasing the number and type of sensors at the wellhead to monitor tubing pressures, lift arrival, flare stack operation and others provide greater insight into production. In turn, they allow SCADA systems to improve operational efficiencies and lowering production costs.