In recent years, the gap between IT and OT has been closing. More and more technology professionals are exploring the idea of IT OT convergence as a solution for overcoming a range of technological challenges.
So what exactly is IT/OT convergence and how can it benefit operational technology?
What is IT OT convergence?
At its core, IT/OT convergence aims to improve operational technology (OT) by integrating information technology (IT).
The goal of IT/OT convergence is to deliver the right data from the operational edge to OT decision makers and across an organization to help inform actions. This requires alignment with IT when transitioning from OT to IT controlled networks.
In many organizations, these siloed teams make decisions without consideration or in direct opposition to each other. However, with digital transformation being a key issue for many organizations, IT/OT convergence has never been more critical.
IT/OT convergence is an attractive option for both OT and IT specialists. However, convergence needs to be carefully considered to avoid common pitfalls, and it’s important to understand every aspect of technological convergence before implementing it as part of your OT solution.
IT OT convergence benefits
One of the main reasons why more and more technology professionals are exploring convergence is because connecting OT equipment to enterprise IT networks, including the cloud, allows for data to be acted on by business decision makers across the organization.
This, in turn, offers the benefits of:
- Real-time visibility and control, allowing you to have immediate and direct access to your OT environment
- Streamlined processes that make operations quicker and simpler
- Lowered operational costs from increased system efficiency and the elimination of unnecessary scheduled maintenance
- A reduction in unplanned downtime from the ability to predict and subsequently prevent system breakdowns
- Smarter decision making and planning based on real time and historical operations
While the convergence of IT and OT offers many benefits for those in OT, there are some potential IT OT convergence challenges to be aware of. One of the biggest friction points between OT and IT integration involves OT cybersecurity. Since most traditional OT systems are not connected to the internet, the risk of cyber attacks is minimal.
However, connecting factory equipment to the network for remote monitoring and operation significantly raises the risk of cyber attacks if left unprotected.
Some legacy OT systems may not have the necessary features to keep your system secure and may be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Because of this, security analysts within IT should be involved early and often in the convergence process. When looking at OT applications, a security first mindset should be applied.
However, with the proper safety precautions and the right convergence strategy, OT IT convergence is possible, and the potential benefits are very attractive to organizations with the resources to properly develop and deploy a sound convergence strategy.
The bottom line on IT/OT convergence
Bridging the gap between IT and OT allows you to have immediate visibility and control over your operational environment, creating streamlined processes and helping to reduce the risk of unplanned downtime. Although IT OT convergence isn’t without its challenges and risks, developing the right strategy can transform the way your physical operations function.
Need help getting started?
If you’re looking for expert advice in carrying out your own digital transformation, OnLogic can help. Contact us today to discuss hardware and software solutions.