Creating the Proper Alignment Between OT and IT

IT and OT. They didn’t always play nicely in the sandbox together, but times change, and so too the technology world. With the convergence of IT and OT becoming more normalized, companies must properly align their informational and operational technology systems. Barry Turner, Technical Business Development Manager at Red Lion, knows both worlds, and he climbed back into the Lion’s Den to take about alignment strategy with Tyler Kern.

Security priorities are the main culprit behind these alignment issues. Simply, IT and OT traditionally have misaligned priorities. “The OT is behind doing the application work, making it as efficient as possible whereas the IT department is responsible for maximum security,” Turner said. “So, many times making it work and maximum security are conflicting with one another. Their priorities tend to be misaligned.”

To make alignment possible, OT needs to implement some of ITs successful strategies such as defense in depth. This technique adds multiple layers of protection to a network or application from attack. “Many times, these layers of protection will come in the form of B-LANs, firewalls, access control, things like that,” Turner said. These layers provide that overall increased security.

But with increased security, could slowdowns occur? That is the concern for OT systems. “We don’t want to jeopardize the uptime of the application,” Turner said. “Getting this very critical piece right is all about education and communication. The IT department has been in the cybersecurity battle for a few more years than the OT. It is a good idea to learn from that experience and build on it.” Managed switches can help with convergence issues to build a future state of industrial networks that 5G and web3 will require. 


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