Information Technology (IT) V/s (OT) Operational Technology - Solitaire Infosys
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Information Technology (IT) V/s (OT) Operational Technology

  • By: admin
  • date: Aug 20, 2021
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Information Technology (IT) deals with information, support, administration, and design of telecommunications and computer systems, whereas Operational Technology (OT) deals with machines, technology, monitors, controls, manages industrial process assets and manufacturing/industrial equipment operations hence manages the flow of digital information.  As up-and-coming technology brings operational hardware online hence manages the operation of physical processes and the machinery used to carry them out. Hardware (OT) and software (IT) nowadays work side-by-side to monitor and regulate essential business processes outside of regular IT workflows.

Difference in IT vs OT

From manufacturing assembly lines and inventory management processes, OT is an essential part of some incredibly complex physical processes. It should come as no wonder, that some of the systems IT professionals originated to manage complexity are now being applied to operational technology. The same software and processes IT teams use to manage the flow of information are now being used to manage manufacturing operations or processes. Although these processes will differ from one organization and one industry to the next, they have a central role to play in the success of many modern enterprises — and manufacturers in particular. 

Understand in depth how IT and OT differ — and in addition how each of these can (and should) interact. As seeing the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its successful application across nearly every industry, now is the time for organizations with a stake in IT and OT systems and networks to invest in next-generation solutions that can bring these two distinct fields into evenly matched partnership.

 IT & OT

What is the Difference Between IT and OT

Understanding IT

Most organizations understand the roles and functions of IT; but in the context of its relationship to OT, it is probably worth expanding. Simply, IT refers to the application of network, storage, and compute resources towardS the generation, management, storage, and delivery of data between organizations.

In a broader context, IT is defined by its programmable capacity. That is, while certain technologies are designed to perform a static set of functions IT can be adjusted, augmented, and re-programmed in countless ways to fit the evolving networks, applications, and user needs. Moreover, IT encompasses hardware — computers, physical servers, and network equipment, to name a few types — and software — applications, operating systems, and virtualization capabilities among others.

For enterprises invested in cyber security, IT presents a range of challenges, apart from the basic questions of inter-operability at the maintenance as time goes on, the ever-expanding number of IT platforms makes it difficult to protect against around-the-clock cybersecurity threats. Especially as IoT-enabled devices bring the physical world online, the possible points of entry for bad actors continue to multiply, putting pressure on CIOs, CISOs, and their IT departments to design systems and networks capable of protecting proprietary information across multiple layers of the organization.

Understanding OT

Whether you’re new to OT or you’re just new to thinking about it in relation to IT, the next generation of connected operational technology demands that decision-makers understand OT in its traditional sense and as an area of exciting innovation. At the most basic level, OT refers to technology that monitors and controls specific devices and processes within industrial workflows.

Compared with IT, OT is unique in that related hardware and software is usually (historically) designed to do specific things: control heat, monitor mechanical performance, trigger emergency shutoffs, etc. Typically, this is done through industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).

Authoritatively, OT has typically required human oversight at key milestones. On the other hand, IT systems have been able to perform key operations without constant human intervention — provided those workflows are within programmed functions. In the past, cybersecurity in relation to OT has been more straightforward than it has been for IT. While the risks for protecting OT systems and networks are just as high. However, that’s quickly changing as the boundaries between IT and OT begin to crumble.

Conclusion- Where To Go From Here

IT and OT throughout history have made up separate aspects of modern organizations, a phenomenon known as IT-OT convergence is changing that.  Its like something to shout about because IoT technology is taking assets not typically connected to the internet — such as assembly line machinery — and bringing them online, enterprises now have the opportunity to create new efficiencies by applying the intelligence of IT to the physical assets of OT systems.

With IoT technology, sensors are connected to IT networks, and allowing them to communicate in real-time with other assets across facilities in order to optimize automatically for maximum performance. AI and machine learning, of course, have a role to play here as well. For diverse enterprises, whether public or private, it’s vital importance that decision-makers must understand how IT and OT different and must consider the cyber security, compliance, and data integration implications of IT-OT convergence, because it’s abundantly clear that this trend-setting shift will bring an almost exponential opportunity for businesses or SMBs with the foresight and know-how to make it work.


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