There is great power in building a secure network infrastructure. There is also a lot of doubt
about how to begin this process. Rockwell Automation Networks and Security Specialist Gregory Wilcox recently hosted a webinar that enabled attendees to understand the importance of a reference architecture and establish a secure, scalable and robust network infrastructure to support IT/OT convergence.
Today Gregory shares some of his expertise…
Smart Industry: Why are reference architectures important?
Gregory: Reference architectures help manufacturers to reduce costs by simplifying their designs, accelerating their deployments and helping to reduce risks when deploying new technology.
Smart Industry: What is a challenge with deploying a connected enterprise, which reference architectures can solve?
Gregory: Scalable, reliable, safe, secure and future-ready architectures are key tenets of a connected enterprise. The Converged Plantwide Ethernet reference architectures created by Cisco and Rockwell Automation are a collection of IT/OT-tested and validated architectures. They provide design considerations, best practices, documented test results and configuration settings to support the deployment of Industrial IoT and Industrial IT systems within a connected enterprise.
Smart Industry: What's an example of data enabling a better business decision?
Gregory: Although technology is the enabler for better business decisions, it’s the outcomes (such as analytics) that are the drivers behind Industrial IoT and Industrial IT. Industrial IoT enables smart devices, which are the genesis of data. Smart devices make up smart machines, which in turn make up smart manufacturing. Smart-manufacturing intelligence, enabled through analytics, helps to optimize yield and improve asset utilization.
Smart Industry: Is IT/OT convergence getting better?
Gregory: For the most part, IT/OT convergence is improving. From a technology perspective, there are increasing similarities between OT and IT architecture technology. From a cultural perspective, there are still challenges. One challenge is the concept of service-level agreements (SLAs). For the OT side, SLAs are measured in minutes and hours, where it is common for IT SLAs to be measured in hours and days. The skills gap is another challenge we are seeing. Companies that have embraced the potential business value of Industrial IoT must invest in education for their IT and OT teams—educating IT on operational requirements and educating OT on traditional enterprise-IT requirements. There are a number of different educational resources to help ease this convergence, such as the network-design eLearning courses from Industrial IP Advantage.