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Security and Collaboration – Top of mind for IT and OT (Operational Technologies) professionals

During the past ENTELEC event held in Houston, I had the opportunity to chat with Shawn Birch – Partner Development Consultant At Tait Communications to ask him about his impressions of the shows and what would be the key care-abouts of IT people during this Oil and Gas event.

Shawn Birch in the Cisco ENTELEC booth

Shawn Birch in the Cisco ENTELEC booth

Tait Communications is a multinational global radio communications company with headquarters based in Christchurch, New Zealand. The company has offices in 20 countries and employs approximately 1000 staff.  Tait develops voice and data radio technologies, exporting about 95% of products from its Christchurch manufacturing base.

Tait specializes in designing, deploying, supporting, and servicing complete mission-critical unified communication solutions in industries such as Oil and Gas and it is a Global Advance technology partner of Cisco around collaboration solutions and #IoT.

Here it is a short transcript of the things I found very relevant from our conversation:

ENTELEC ClaraA 2 compressed

Cisco booth during ENTELEC

From your experience and point of view what were the key concerns and topics of interest of the customers during ENTELEC?  "Convergence of voice, video and data and secure networks for digital oilfield."

What did we showcase together in the show floor and the key benefits for the customers? "Tait showcased Unified Critical Communication two- way radio solutions integrated together as one through the power of Cisco IPICS (Interoperability and Collaboration System). This is a robust solution that enables and allows improvements in operational efficiency without compromising security. The approach of this solution is to protect the investment in legacy systems and migrate to the next generation of critical communications"

What was the overall reaction of the customers to our demo/presentation?  "Excited about the opportunity to blend state of the art Tait two-way radio solutions into the secure umbrella of the Cisco network in support of Unified Critical Communications with multi-modal integration of PTT, (Push to Talk) technology from anywhere, anytime and with any device."

What will be a key takeaway/final thought you would like to share with our blog-readers? "Be prepared for the future, the IoT solutions will transform the way the people do business in digital oilfields as we continue to merge technologies trough unified critical communications."

Cisco Focused on the same care-abouts: Security and Collaboration. You can read more about ENTELEC from Peter Granger (Heads up on What You'll See) here, and Roberto De La Mora here (What Does it Mean to You?) . During the event Cisco showcased two new use case solutions as well,  but those topics deserve a whole blog. We will keep you posted!!!....

 

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Cisco Live Utilities Session a Big Success: Converging IT and OT (Operational Technologies) - BSAIoT-2100

May 20, 2014 at 10:21 am PST

rgeiger2Rick Geiger presented Session BSAIoT-2100 - How to Successfully Converge IT and OT (Operational Technologies) at Cisco live in San Francisco this week, with strong interest from attendees.

Many of you know of Rick Geiger from this blog and other publications. Rick's session at Cisco Live 2014 discussed the many aspects and challenges of merging OT and IT in organizations.  Computing and networking for operations requires more IT-based support and a growing convergence of IT and OT skill sets to support intelligent devices and varied processes. Rick's session discussed the convergence driven by the critical needs of the OT organization for the process maturity of IT and for managing and securing the growing complexity of OT systems.

Rick Geiger CLUS AgendaIn bringing IT processes & capabilities to OT, IT will need to recognize the needs of critical control systems and the equivalent process capabilities that OT provides for engineering and operations. Successful companies will find ways to establish common ground & combine the expertise & value of both. Bringing standalone devices or isolated networks into core operational systems will bring clear and tangible advantages and business benefits to those companies.

Rick's session topic covered new ideas & concepts that are developing around IT/OT, providing major opportunities for those who understand how to leverage their IT know-how to Operations.

Missed it? Well you can download the slide deck here:

BSAIoT-2100 - How to Successfully Converge IT and OT (2014 San Francisco) - 1 Hour, Rick Geiger (requires registration)

Let us know what you think!

(Find out more about convergence by reading Rick's series of blogs, starting with: Energy Networking Convergence Part 1 – The Journey From Serial to IP)

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Energy Networking Convergence Part 1 - The Journey From Serial to IP

This is the first of a four part series on the convergence of IT and OT (Operational Technologies)

Part 2 will cover the impact of the transition to IP on Physical Security and the convergence of Physical and Cyber Security.

Part 3 will discuss the convergence of IT and OT - Operational Technology of all types outside the traditional realm of Information Processing.

Part 4 will look at how to actually make the transition to a converged IT/OT infrastructure and tips on overcoming the challenges.

Those of us in the Energy Industry know that the utilities segment is in transition. The network architecture, in particular,  is undergoing change - change that will bring challenges as well as opportunities for both Cisco and our customers.

Almost every communication application started as point to point serial — including computer communications.  But the simple geometry problem of how many lines are needed to connect every vertex (node) of a polygon to every other vertex [ n(n-3)/2 if you’re curious ] shows that as the number of nodes grows, connecting each one to every other one quickly becomes infeasible.

HAK22620 - for webThe need to interconnect more and more devices lead to multi-drop or bus topologies and challenges of how to deal with sorting out who gets to talk when and the solutions of token passing, polling and TDM.

Circuit switching was a big breakthrough developed out of necessity as the number of telephone handsets exploded. Interestingly enough, look at the hierarchical topology of trunking and local switching and you may recognize analog similarity to NAT.

Initial application of networking often occurs as the use of Ethernet to replace serial communication with flat, layer-2 networks, to interconnect multiple nodes with polling and TDM used exactly as they were in serial systems.  That’s where most SCADA systems still live today and why there are relatively few monitored points, limited by how quickly the polling loop can be traversed.  Imagine trying to run the internet that way?

Fast forward and almost every industry and industrial application that started off as serial or circuit switched has migrated or is migrating to packet switched as IP packet technology has made astonishing progress along the price/performance curve.

High performance IP is now able to offer latency performance that used to require dedicated connections.  Along with IP have come the tools to manage, diagnose, repair and secure the communication network.  Relative to the billions of dollars invested by companies around the world in tools, security, management, etc. for IP, the investments being made in securing and improving serial or TDM are almost nonexistent.

Globally, Service Providers who built their industry on circuit switched analog and TDM are terminating those services as they move to complete their transition to IP.

Cisco continues to play a key role in transitioning serial/TDM technology to IP, helping customers get full benefit of the robust performance and security capabilities and features IP offers.  Customers who have received End of Service notices for Framerelay are scrambling to find alternatives and at the same time achieve regulatory compliance.

As Operation Technology groups outside of IT increasingly use IT Information & Communication Technology (ICT), they need the same capabilities as IT.

What does this mean for Cisco and our customers?

Relationships with the business, including the operations side of the business are key.  Budget is increasingly in the hands of the business rather than IT. As a result, Cisco and our customers'  IT departments are increasingly collaborating with the operational side of the business - especially the OT, or 'Operational Technologies' part of our customer's organization.

Cisco has specialized industry sales support teams in a group called CVA (Cisco Value Acceleration) Group, which I'm a part of, as well as Cisco Advanced Services and other Cisco Business Units (especially the IOTG, or Internet of Things Group) along with groups such as the Cisco Global Industries Center of Expertise (GICE) to understand the trends, business imperatives and compelling events creating opportunity with customers.

If you'd like to know more about these groups, Read More »

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Making peace between IT and Operations - Plant Engineering Article

September 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm PST

Bridging the gap between IT and Operations

Understanding the shared goals can bring peace – and value to manufacturers.

Check out last quarters' 'Plant Engineering" Magazine (May 2012) and you'll find Cisco's published article where we discuss how the world of IT and Operations are coming together - and it's no longer a clash of corporate titans, more a collaboration of corporate allies.

We talk about the convergence between IT and OT (Operational Technologies) as businesses are embracing open standards and enjoying increased value at lower costs, and the issues that can raise.

The article covers how important it is to remember that the fundamental purpose for the IT organization is to provide the availability and the protection of critical information. The manufacturing operations group on the other hand, needs to build a product to sell to customers for money. Sometimes, the two groups are at odds with each other over their respective priorities. It is possible, however, to reach a mutual understanding that can meet both groups’ priorities and goals.

Read More »

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