Operational Technology (OT) deals with all the technology used to control a factory or process plant. In the last 30 years, it has seen three significant changes. The first was the introduction of proprietary serial-based communications protocols. The second was the introduction of Open serial-based communications protocol. The third has been the more recent introduction of Information Technology into their world.
Open communication protocols are protocols that no one company owns and are ‘open’ to every company to implement. Before the rise of open protocols, OT had only proprietary protocols, protocols owned by one company, and available only to them.
Information Technology (IT) deals with all the technology used by a business for daily operations centred around the office environment. Today, we have many open protocols that make use of Ethernet standards that come from IT. This so-called convergence of OT to IT has created many challenges and opportunities.
Figure 1: The convergence of OT and IT – they share Ethernet standards but have different goals and priorities
The change from proprietary to open protocols and the introduction of IT has had a massive effect on how people maintain and troubleshoot their systems, including what diagnostics are available and how they are handled. This paper will examine how this has developed over time and how it has addressed or not addressed end-users needs.