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
Benefits of IT/OT convergence
In operational networks, there is a wealth of information available from systems already in place. Information systems collect supplementary information from the Internet. When these information streams are combined and used in a business process through an effectively designed communication network with carefully selected technology, the benefits are considerable and ultimately make organizations more efficient.
Key benefits include:
Optimization of business processes—Decisions will be made in real time and with higher levels of confidence, because more information will be available regarding the event or condition. For example, load shed or curtailment events will be based on energy availability (IT sources) and demand throughout the distribution network (OT sources).
Management of an event in an IT/OT converged network will be executed as a closed-loop process by targeting a feeder or substation, issuing curtailment signals to customers under that substation or feeder, gauging the real-time response, and repeating as required to achieve the target reduction.
Reduced operating costs—Smarter analytics will improve business-process intelligence, which will help operators minimize spinning reserves to compensate for variable-generation sources, such as wind or solar. As an example, operators are able to intelligently manage variable generation assets, which requires integrating reliable weather information (IT sources) and grid power demands (OT sources) with business process or analytics to optimize fixed and variable generation assets.
Shorter development time and common platforms – IT and OT groups traditionally developed in two separate domains, where almost all of the communication, hardware and software were specific to that domain. This made integration of IT and OT systems complex.
Today, with the proliferation of communication standards, powerful processors and operating systems provide a common environment for IT and OT groups. IT and OT groups now share fundamentals in communications and network architecture, which simplifies the transport of data across systems; thus, the technology divide between IT and OT is closing.
Extension policy and security across networks – In the past, many OT groups depended on standalone or siloed data networks and possibly obscurity for network security. With interconnected IT and OT networks, the entire network must be secure to minimize vulnerabilities at any single point in the combined network. Many OT products now support standard communication and security protocols. Therefore, organizations need to implement and manage policy and security measures against their entire IT and OT networks, which can lead to standardized access and minimized network vulnerability.
By converging IT and OT, organizations will realize these benefits, as well as numerous others that are specific to the organization’s business processes and IIoT strategy.