Watch this space: IT is from Mars, OT is from Venus
One of the many roles I have in Atos has to do with the partnership that Atos has established with Siemens. The challenge in my job is the fact the Atos, a pure IT service organisation, needs to understand the position and the objectives of Siemens; a company focused on vertical IT that is amongst others oriented on manufacturing and industrial solutioning.
Simple terminologies like ‘services’ and ‘infrastructure’ have a fundamental different meaning when discussed as part of the Siemens or Atos portfolio. Where parts of Siemens thinks of maintaining pumps and sensors, we think of process consulting and implementing software; and pipelines and manufacturing belts are not the same as networks, storage and servers.
Still Atos and Siemens believe there is additional value when we look to combine these elements in other and new services. Similar to our clients we are continuously looking to get this value through the convergence of OT and IT.
This topic is now also addressed in an upcoming whitepaper by the Atos Scientific community, which looks into the specific issues round IT/OT convergence and suggests methods to master the process.
“Implementing IT/OT Convergence successfully will imply that IT- and OT-Strategies will be harmonized, common governance and process models will be installed, security and data will be managed centrally and resources will be re-skilled to understand and know the requirements of both disciplines”
The quote above from the whitepaper indicates we are dealing with a multifaceted implementation that is by far not easily accomplished. It is certainly not about tooling and seems to be more about organisation and business processes.
The whitepaper mentions at least 3 areas of expertise that support a successful IT/OT convergence:
1. Strong change management; because IT and OT are domains on their own, we need to manage the convergence in such a way that we do not negatively influence the value that each domain has on its own.
2. Process Harmonization; standardization of definitions and the way things ‘get done’ is necessary to avoid ad hoc solutions and costly mistakes.
3. A service oriented architecture; standardization in technology and making sure no technology lock-in can happen allow for the necessary flexibility when change happens.
One could argue that IT/OT convergence is not a high priority; we have been very successful without it for a very long time. But I think it was not by choice we have chosen to look away – it was simply too hard, too difficult to achieve. The authors of the whitepaper seem to agree:
“Now, new ideas and concepts are developing around IT/OT providing major opportunities for those who understand to leverage their IT know-how to the shop floor. Now is the time to capitalize on them! “
Update November 22, 2012: The whitepaper is now published and can be found here.