Time for OT specialists to embrace IT

Turns out that even technology professionals can show a politically correct streak. Indeed, at last month’s Smart Industry conference in Chicago, one of the central themes of discussion was the ongoing “convergence” of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in industrial environments.

But in this context, convergence is little more than code for conquest. Commercial, off-the-shelf technologies (COTS) in areas such as networking and virtualization—supported by far larger user bases and development efforts—have become increasingly able to satisfy the performance demands for which purpose-built, OT systems were originally conceived and developed. Sure, legacy OT systems and protocols will long be with us, but even those are being bridged and gateway-ed onto Ethernet and sometimes directly into the cloud, so that industry can take full advantage of IT’s advancing capabilities.

But OT specialists can’t abdicate responsibility for production systems. They have the expertise to apply non-specific IT tools to the unique needs of industry. They need to better understand IT tools so that they can help bridge the gap between the far more numerous existing and incoming IT professionals that will need to understand our needs if IT tools are to be properly applied.

If you’re an OT professional looking to get a better handle on this converged landscape, or an IT professional looking to better understand the performance requirements of industry, few events rival Automation Fair in terms of educational bang for the buck.

Attendees of this free event organized by Rockwell Automation can dive deep into hands-on tutorials about properly designing and deploying converged information and control architectures, learn lessons from leaders in specific industry sectors, and kick the tires on the latest in automation and information technology from Rockwell Automation and its partners.

This year’s 25th anniversary Automation Fair is coming up fast: November 9-10 at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center, with the Process Solutions Users Group earlier that same week.

Admission is free, but the hands-on training sessions often fill up quickly.

So, keep on with your politically correct self. Vote early, but then beat a path to Atlanta.