Making a Connection: IT and OT: Can These Two Great Tastes Taste Great Together?

A growing challenge for businesses across industries is the convergence of IT and OT. How is the merging of these two traditionally separate areas impacting the IT workforce now also managing OT networks?

For insights on the common challenges and the opportunities that this transition poses for IT professionals to shine, Making a Connection spoke with someone in OT with a long history in the IT space. Henry Martel, Field Application Engineer with Antaira Technologies, brought his 20-plus years of experience in providing IT and networking solutions to the discussion.

Martel said the line between IT and OT begins to blur in a place the industry calls, “the edge.”

“The edge is where the IT network ends and the OT network begins,” Martel said. “And that’s usually where you have your enterprise-style network, and, from a hardware perspective, it’s where the switches kind of interloop. On the OT network, you might have a central point, bringing the connectivity into a space for OT. That point where they intermingle, you might have a firewall that separates the two networks, or you might have other devices that provide a boundary between the two. That right there is the convergence of it.”

And at this point is where the challenges arise.

One of the reasons IT and OT networks are experiencing this convergence is the need for more device connectivity.

“The more devices get connected, the more expansion we’re going to see, and the more expansion that’s been seen, because we have the opportunity to grab more data and more opportunity to grab control of equipment that at one time you didn’t necessarily think you wanted to reach,” Martel said. This creates the opportunity for better functionality, monitoring and data collection of that equipment.

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