Executive Summary – Achieving Successful IT / OT Network Convergence
For years, office Information Technology (IT) networks and plant floor Operational Technology (OT) networks were wholly separate. On top of that, IT and OT personnel often had little to do with one another. With the advent of industrial Ethernet replacing fieldbus protocols on the plant floor, they now share a common network, creating valuable opportunities to combine resources and collaborate on goals for overall organizational success.
However, this network convergence also sets the stage for interactions – some might say showdowns – between IT and OT network personnel with very different training, experiences and cultures. The extent to which these necessary collaborations become adversarial or collaborative is dependent upon the approach taken by the organizations and individuals involved.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what convergence is and what it entails— for example, one group within the organization might be working toward the creation of one single, flat network while the other is attempting to segregate through technologies such as VLANs. The chances of success in this environment are low due to the steep learning curve and the opportunity for costly missteps when combining these different perspectives.
Fortunately, these challenges have become less necessary to endure. As more and more organizations converge their networks, there is a growing body of resources and best practices being published. Assistance is available through third-party consultants, manufacturer representatives and resources such as this white paper. This is a collection of experiences from Belden and partners who have helped many organizations successfully establish their own converged network. These insights can help you reduce your learning curve and benefit from a converged IT/OT network quickly and efficiently at your location.