Advantech IIoT Platforms Bridge OT and IT

Information Technologies (IT) and Operational Technologies (OT) have long, isolated histories with many examples of failed attempts of integration in the Industrial Internet of Things.

Press Center >> Articles and Reports >> 21.01.2019

Information Technologies (IT) and Operational Technologies (OT) have long, isolated histories with many examples of failed attempts of integration in the Industrial Internet of Things. Historically, OT and IT functions did not overlap and were managed by separate departments, each with their own set of goals and responsibilities. However, smart factories of the future demands are evolving into the area of Internet of Things, which will inevitably lead to the overlap. The Industry 4.0 revolution is changing the existing structures in OT and IT leading to an increased demand for distributed data storage solutions, data processing networks, cloud services and data security in industrial environments.

This article showcases two major issues factories of the future are facing in regards to bridging their OT and IT departments: Integration and Big Data. Advantech highlights these two pain points, reveals solutions and uncovers how company’s Solution Ready Industrial IOT platforms bridge the gap between OT and IT in factory environments.

1. The Issue Of Integration

Traditionally, OT elements, such as PLCs and other proprietary production equipment, have shown long lifecycles compared to IT Systems. As a result of these long lifecycles, industrial devices today use a variety of physical communication layers, mostly proprietary related to their industrial controller vendor such as Profibus, DeviceNet, Interbus, and Modbus.
In order to reduce development and go-to-market time and support costs, OT vendors will have to integrate IT-derived developments. This leads to the demand for high performance reliable industrial computers and industrial server equipment, both capable of performing in harsh environments.

Overcome The Obstacle Of Integration
One of the first steps in connecting traditional industrial systems to the IoT is to provide a conversion from these application-specific physical buses to open network interfaces such as Ethernet and wireless. In contrast to OT, IT enterprise networks use the same open standards and protocols found on the Internet open communication standards like TCP/IP.
Application-specific protocols such as HTTP/S, SNMP, MQTT, are layered on the top. The Internet uses programming languages like JavaScript, Java, and presents information using open technologies like HTML5.
To realize the full potential of the Internet of Things, OT and IT technologies must converge, allowing easy connection and communication to sensor devices with simple integration of cloud services. OT and IT certainly have significant hurdles to overcome in pursuit of collaboration, none greater than the challenge of achieving security and interoperability without disrupting critical services or diverting excess capital from the company.

Advantech WebAccess Enables Integration Between OT and IT
Advantech´s WebAccess/SCADA, a web based framework for industrial IOT engineering, provides all the features needed for an easy OT connectivity, for data collection and IT cloud integration for big data services. WebAccess acts as an Industrial IoT Platform providing open interfaces for modern factories to develop IoT applications for different vertical markets.
In addition to traditional SCADA functions, WebAccess has an intelligent dashboard to provide users with cross-platform, cross-browser data analysis and user interface using HTML5 technology. With the built-in widgets, WebAccess 8.2 also provides Widget Builder to allow customers to build their own application specific widgets.

WebAccess advantages:
• 100% web-based engineering, monitoring and control
• Cross browser HTML5 Intelligent Dashboard
• Supports various drivers including Advantech’s I/O modules, controllers, and major PLCs, as well as standard protocols Modbus, OPC UA, OPC DA, SNMP, and BACnet
• Easy integration with MES & ERP, via open interfaces
• Integration with WebAccess/IVS, WebAccess/NMS and WISE- PaaS/RMM
• Google Maps and GPS location tracking integration
• Redundant SCADA Nodes, ports and devices for high availability
• Provides I/O sensor & machine monitoring and control

For more information on WebAccess, visit the website: www.advantech.eu/industrial-automation/webaccess


2. The Issue of Big Data

IoT platforms produce an increasing amount of raw data from sensors, actuators and other OT devices. The majority of Industrial IoT devices are connected at the edge of the network, which is the place where OT and IT physically converge. To reduce the communication bandwidth requirements, the data that OT devices generate must be mined to distillate what is useful to the enterprise and then forwarded to cloud computing systems for big-data analysis. Most of today’s OT assets, like individual sensors and devices, have neither the ability nor the computing power required to process and filter the data collected. More intelligent OT assets, like PLCs, are designed for single-task automation functions and have not been designed to share the results of manufacturing data with other systems. For this reason, current IoT applications do require edge computing devices that act as data gateway between OT assets and the IT cloud.


Advantech Taglink IIoT Gateways Resolve The Issue of Big Data

One of the solutions Advantech provides in resolving the issue of big data and bridging the gap between OT and IT is the Taglink IIoT Gateways, which includes a series of Advantech products such as ADAM-3600, ECU-1152 and ECU-1251. The Taglink IIoT Gateway can be directly connected to sensors and actuators and acquires the analog and digital sensors data. It converts RTU protocols such as DNP3 and IEC-60870-5-104 through the Advantech´s latest gateway software technology called Taglink. Taglink provides the support for main stream I/O Fieldbus protocols and PLC drivers and allows transferring these data through the MQTT protocol into cloud services.
To enable direct asset-to-asset or thing-to-thing communication and truly bridge the OT/IT gap, the Advantech WISE-4000 IoT wireless I/O modules collect data from remote or difficult to access OT related hard wired locations. The WISE 4000 remote I/O modules combine data acquisition, processing and data communication without a gateway and can directly connect to the cloud services through the MQTT protocol. This helps to facilitate the deployment of IoT solutions to collect OT information from any type of sensor. Through an integrated HTML5 interface, the WISE 4000 modules can be configured and accessed from any mobile device using a standard web browser without the need of an access point. Because the modules use the RESTful API, system integrators can adjust the configurator to meet their specific needs.
Read more on Advantech Taglink IIoT Gateway here: http://r.advantech.com/4000


3. Keeping It Simple With An Eye On The Future

Building an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) infrastructure for your manufacturing business that integrates all systems is not for beginners. When merging legacy IT and OT systems into your IIoT infrastructure, simplicity is important. So choosing an “always on” solution that is simple to deploy and easy to operate and manage is the way to go, which means you can focus on making sure smart factories are running at optimum performance. When done right, IIoT infrastructures can create enormous savings, better customer value, and offer real competitive advantages. This mutually beneficial partnership delivers customer value that’s not possible to achieve with partners just working alone.

Advantech’s Servers, Data Storage and Cloud Solutions connect OT to IT
Servers and Storage are, in many respects, the backbones of smart factories and IIoT. They serve as critical infrastructure on which a host of other industrial functions rest. Considering their importance, it should come as no surprise that Advantech, a global market leader in IPC & Industrial servers, uses the latest server and storage technology to eliminate the bottleneck of bridging the gap between OT and IT.
IPCs and embedded automation PCs smartly connect the OT field side to the IT site in various industrial applications where virtual and high availability infrastructures are being used into a plant. Industrial servers’ ability to access and process large amounts of data, enable fast and accurate information gathering and analysis.
Advantech’s full range of storage servers, going from JBOD, NAS, SAN to NVMe servers, offer several key advantages such as longevity support with strict revision control, legacy and higher vibration support. An additional key benefit of Advantech’s storage servers is flexibility. Customers can configure different form factors chassis, from 2U to 4U, with different type of Advantech Industrial Server motherboards that support either Intel® Xeon® E3 or Single/Dual Xeon E5 processors to create an optimized solution that fits space, cost, and performance considerations.
Advantech IIoT solutions accelerate OT to IT implementation by providing integrated solutions building up edge-to-cloud IIoT. Composed of the world class industrial platforms, Advantech Solution Ready Platforms integrate top, flexible software technologies with superior server and storage hardware. By partnering up with Stratus ® for its EverRun software package, Advantech creates an “Always-On” infrastructure to ensure a 99.999% uptime. Furthermore, the company is partnering with Microsoft® Azure, as the IaaS and also PaaS solution provider through the Microsoft CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) Program, to offer more diverse functions for IoT applications. Microsoft HPC Pack and Windows Azure provide a comprehensive and cost-effective solution that delivers high performance while providing a unified solution for running compute and data intensive HPC applications - whether on factories or to the cloud.

For more information on Advantech’s Servers, visit the website: https://www.proxis.ua/ru/brand/Advantech/

Conclusion
By eliminating the gap between OT and IT and by offering a full product range of solution ready platforms of hardware and engineering software for industrial IOT applications, Advantech is enabling IT/OT System Integrators to implement fast and easy IoT & Industry 4.0 solutions.
Industrial manufacturing companies are embracing smart technologies and the connected world, which are changing the face of the modern factory more dramatically than ever before. It’s only now that IT and OT departments have the cloud infrastructure in place, the communications networks in place to really make a lot of this integration happen. While the industry is still seeing gaps between the potential brought by this new technology, and where manufacturers are with their workforces, bridging the gap between IT and OT in factory environments is key to realizing the smart, connected factory of tomorrow, today.