Gartner defines IT/OT Integration as the end state sought by organizations (most commonly, asset-intensive organizations) where instead of a separation of IT and OT as technology areas with different areas of authority and responsibility, there is integrated process and information flow.
The history of IT and OT
Historically, operational technology (OT) departments have been responsible for keeping their plants running smoothly. OT encompasses machinery, physical plant equipment, PLCs, SCADA, etc. On the other side, information technology (IT) departments are responsible for managing business applications. IT professionals are experts in networking technologies, cloud infrastructures, web-based deployments, etc.
Both worlds have existed during many years in separated planes, and that provoked a gap; a deep gap that Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation projects, that understands the plant as a connected environment and aims to switch from a siloed structure to a “data-lake” approach, are making more evident.
And the fact is that some of the best Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) practices have already clearly demonstrated how powerful the integration of OT and IT worlds can be; allowing companies to improve their decision-making, having access to a greater quantity and high-quality data, but also to reduce costs, optimize processes and lower risks.
The interesting white paper “IIoT: Combining the Best of OT and IT,” created by Inductive Automation, explains a clear and illustrative example:
“Let’s look at an oil pipeline as an example. On any given installation, there can be over 10,000 miles of pipeline, thousands of PLCs and devices, and miles of wiring. In a typical operational environment, only critical operational data are used for monitoring and safe operation. About 80% of the data is left out on the field. IIoT can bring all of that pipeline data and much more to the enterprise level. Additional data on the health status of all devices on the network aid in decisions such as whether to send a repair vehicle or to solve the problem at the local level”.
But, having these two independent planets: OT and IT, who are usually unfamiliar with the protocols used in each other’s domain, the question is how to adapt existing systems without replacing every device in a plant?
Here is where vendors like Datumize and their Datumize Machine Data solution (in an Appliance version with Intel IoT Gateway) opens an affordable opportunity to those who want to overcome this gap, without any critical system or infrastructure modification. So making these outdated controls and sensors, incapable of extracting and communicating data, behave as an IIoT device and capturing, managing and connecting its collected data with the company IT environment.