IT + OT = IoT

A lot riding on things

On the industrial IoT, the stakes are high. Applications often control expensive equipment, essential to the operation of a business. Safety of both employees and the public is paramount. Decision-making with the best information available in real-time reduces inefficiency and increases profitability.

With everything connected in industrial IoT applications, the boundaries between an information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) network become physically non-existent. Security, availability, and scalability are achieved by integrating IoT capability into IT best practice, virtually managing devices and configurations while maintaining real-time awareness.

At the edge where the digital universe meets physical objects is where OT takes over. Reliability and real-time performance are assumed, but there is more to the IoT. Devices need to be added as the installation grows, or upgraded over their lifetime – either by physical replacement, or by over-the-air (OTA) software updates. Applications should be modular and separable, deployable without adverse effects on the rest of a system under operation.

Bridging the differences

IT has typically managed the balance sheet: conversion of capital and human resources to goods and services, delivery of those to customers, and reconciliation of income and expense. Time is usually measured in minutes to years, and information is usually presented to people in readable formats. Technology exists in data centers, in a single location or spread across the cloud. Lifecyles of equipment are shorter, perhaps three to five years.

OT manages physical processes: movements of machines, regulation of inputs as goods are created, and control of complex systems such as aircraft, power plants, and networking infrastructure. Time is usually measured in microseconds to seconds, with deterministic windows in which events must occur. Data often is machine-readable, suitable for automation needs. Compute resources can be decentralized, sometimes located in hard-to-reach places, and are frequently in hostile environments requiring ruggedization. Lifecyles are longer, commonly 10 or 20 years or more.

Kontron is uniquely positioned to combine these disciplines into an end-to-end approach.