Security Concerns Driving IT and Operations Collaboration

Emerson's Peter ZornioYesterday, we shared thoughts from Emerson’s Peter Zornio about new types of services enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things. Today we’ll look at how these technologies continue to bring IT organizations and Operations staff closer together—whether they like the idea or not.

In a ComputerWorld article, Why IT and Operations are on a collision course [free registration required to read full article], Peter contributes to the article investigating the reasons why:

…IT and operations are now forced to work together, spurred by increasingly complex digital devices that pose fearsome cybersecurity threats.

We think of desktop computers, servers, networking devices, shared printers etc. as Information Technology (IT). But Operations Technology (OT), such as control systems, asset management systems, manufacturing execution systems, etc. rely on much of the same hardware and operating system technologies.

Peter noted what’s driving the two organizations to work together more closely:

The thing that’s happened in the last three to five years that’s really pushing these guys together is security…Security concerns around running these facilities are very different from what IT is looking at.

He highlighted the differences in perspectives between organizations:

IT is usually concerned about someone coming in and stealing information. On process control, you’re worried about people coming in and changing something in the equipment running a process. Some of these are dangerous processes that, if disrupted, could result in accidents, injury, environmental damage or even death.

Peter explained how the underlying OT moved to IT hardware and operating systems occurred because of vastly superior price-performance due to the manufacturing volumes of IT equipment. The flip side is the ongoing support from security patching and updates. These updates must be carefully planned and tested to make sure nothing breaks which could lead to safety, reliability or performance issues.

He again pointed to differences in perspectives:

The IT industry has somehow managed to program CIOs with the idea that of course you’re always upgrading and we’re not going to support this thing that’s over six years old. And they think that’s just the way it is. But engineers don’t think that way, any more than you’d think you have to replace the engine in your car just because it’s 10 years old.

Read the article for others’ viewpoints on the differences in perspectives and ways to address these in order to foster improved collaboration between organizations.

You can also connect and interact in the Operate & Maintain group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 under Enterprise Integration.

Leave a Reply