Industry 4.0 - The key challenges of OT-IT integration

Industry 4.0 - The key challenges of OT-IT integration

Industry 4.0 is driving companies to create new business models and use new technologies. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices allow you to collect unimaginable amounts of data from different aspects and times in production processes which enable analysis that results in increased productivity and efficiency.

IT-OT convergence is a challenge on the road to Industry 4.0. This convergence must ensure data exchange, essential for business decision-making, in a standardized and secure manner.

While each vertical in the industry has its own challenges, there are challenges that are cross-cutting to all:

IT/OT teams: Teamwork of both is critical to efficient and secure integration, but in most companies there are differences that need to be worked on.

The metrics with which both teams are measured and the knowledge they share differ by many points, to name a few:

·       IT has metrics more related to application performance, incident handling, user experience; while OT metrics are directly related to operating and production results, downtime times, worker safety, production costs, inventory management among others.

·       IT has all the network knowledge and security policies and is often unaware of the devices and protocols that use production processes and their requirements, while OT teams understand the needs of their production lines, how they are composed, and how they work, but do not have all the knowledge in networking and security.

·       It is relevant to have validated architectures as a reference that allow networks to be joined and integrated considering the requirements of both worlds efficiently and securely.


Isolated Networks: For a long time the production lines were kept separate from the corporate network and at the beginning of the integration process in many cases there are several realities between them:

·       Diversity of manufacturers to integrate into the network, this involves protocols, standards, high availability mechanisms and management tools.

·       Lack of knowledge about the network and its components. Devices installed and configured by vendors, devices without manufacturer-recommended security updates, diversity of manufacturers that increase network complexity. The work of raising network information takes time and is complicated, but above all you have a higher spectrum of vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Cybervision is an essential tool of Cisco to secure the OT network to enable, among other actions, current network survey, data flows, and to determine and identify vulnerabilities that exist in your network. It also allows OT and IT teams to have visibility and control security on OT networks.


Storage and management of information:

The integration of OT/IT and the incorporation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) enables unprecedented amounts of data that are critical to secure network operation, but also provides information like never before for business decision-making.

It is very important to determine where the data will be stored and analyzed, for example: in the edge, data center, or cloud decision that impacts the architecture design and segmentation of the network.

Today more than ever, it is essential to understand which data contributes to business growth, which to the operation and which to production. As well as identifying which data can be carried for cloud analytics, which data center applications are required, and which need rapid analysis and response for a production process.


Edge computing allows you to analyze the data near the operation to make decisions quickly according to parameter measurements in the operation, this allows you to act without waiting for a response that has to come from the data center or the cloud and expose yourself to the response being late or not.


Source: Cisco

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