Yitaek Hwang I actually work with Advanced Manufacturing and as part of it with Industrial IoT (IIoT). I’ve seen three types of company approaches to the problem of IT/OT (Information Technology/Operations Technology) convergence, mainly dictated by the solution provider profile itself:
- IT-centric: companies such as Accenture, Stefanini, PTC among other big players in the corporate/industrial IT space are expanding their operations to encompass IIoT and by consequence the fog computing market. They are heavily investing in the development of cloud platforms (big data, analytics, ML, etc) but are also making some moves to the edge. As an example, PTC has acquired industrial automation software company Kepware, so it can now integrate industrial devices to its IT platform. Still, they are keeping themselves stuck to just one side of the coin hardware-software.
- OT-centric: companies such as Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Bosch, GE and others grounded in the industrial automation arena are partnering with IT companies in order to adapt their shop-floor products to the more open internet architecture. Rockwell has been partnering Cisco a decade now who has been able to build industrial networking equipment very adherent to IoT concepts (here, fog semantics is not strong enough yet).
- “Middlers”: plenty of automation and industrial IT providers are sitting in the middle of the IT-OT spectrum approaching the problem timidly. Most have only reshaped their current product portfolio to appear aligned to the new IIoT/Fog concepts. They are great candidates for disappearing in the short to medium term swallowed by the market risk-takers and innovative companies.
So it seems by now OT-centric companies will still keep ownership of SCADA and control systems (there are still compelling use cases for these tools where strict real-time control must be associated with highly robust and safe hardware) while opening the shop-floor to more modern internet related technologies probably complementing their portfolio with IT-centric corporations offerings.
Although the convergence of these two worlds (IT/OT) may seem logical and natural it brings with it still unmastered complexity. The future will say.