IT/OT Convergence includes Compute/Connect
Discussions of IT/OT convergence in the industrial networking realm typically focus on migration of IT technology into the OT or automation and control domain. Extension of standard Ethernet networks and standard operating systems, such as Linux and Windows, into industrial automation architectures are some of the more prominent examples of this convergence in recent years. The advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 (I4.0), and associated concepts such as edge-to-cloud integration and edge computing, has extended the definition of IT/OT convergence to the merging of computational power and connectivity, or compute/connect.
This convergence is particularly apparent at the industrial network infrastructure tier. Gateways, routers, switches, access points and similar devices whose primary traditional role has been to enable data connectivity between and within different layers of the architecture are now adding compute power to meet the emerging demands of edge computing. At the same time, the need to process and deliver pre-processed OT data to cloud-based enterprise applications is driving compute capability down in the architecture and closer to the edge.
Impact of IT/OT Compute/Connect Convergence on Network Infrastructure Devices
As noted in previous ARC blogs on the topic, pursuit of IIoT and I4.0-driven strategies is driving an interim clustered approach to IT/OT integration. This approach enables the necessary cloud integration, secure transmission, and standards support necessary to implement these strategies. It also reflects the compute/connect convergence implications, with traditional IT suppliers such as Dell and HPE offering network infrastructure products with both significant edge computing power and support for industrial networks. At the same time, traditional industrial network infrastructure players such as Cisco are adding incremental compute power, support of standard operating systems, and ability to host cloud platform agents. Given that we see this clustered approach to integration as an interim phase, we fully expect this convergence of compute and connect functionality to ultimately extend into lower tiers of the architecture.
IT/OT Convergence at the Industrial Network Edge includes Compute/Connect
These are just some of the findings resulting from ARC’s recent research into the industrial network infrastructure market, including routers, industrial Ethernet switches, gateways, and more. Further information on these reports can be found at https://www.arcweb.com. ARC also invites you to participate in a short survey related to the role of the network edge in the era of cloud computing. Issues related to the IIoT-driven transformation of the industrial network edge will be highlighted during the IoT Network Edge Infrastructure sessions at ARC’s 22nd Annual Industry Forum, which takes place February 12-15, 2018 in Orlando.