How To Minimise Your OT Blind Spots

By   Martin Hodgson
Regional Sales Manager Northern Europe , | Jun 20, 2022 02:23 pm PST

In large industrial companies, IT administrators are dealing with the OT world more than ever before. From looking after the industrial Ethernet to ensuring the OT supporting infrastructure is healthy, the role of the IT administrator in these organisations has expanded significantly. The driving force behind this growing role is convergence. IT and OT areas have become more connected so that data can flow from the factory floor all the way to cloud systems or ERP.

But there is a big challenge with this expanded role. Obtaining an overview of everything is difficult. The IT and OT areas each have their own sets of tools, there are several teams with a focus on only a small part of the picture and there are many different standards and protocols at play. This problem is compounded in larger companies where there might be hundreds or thousands of IT and OT devices across multiple locations.

All of this poses the danger of potential blind spots – areas where problems can occur out of sight of the system administrator. Think about problems like UPS battery levels, industrial enclosures overheating or CPU usage maxing out on an IPC. Many of these OT problems are now the responsibility of the IT administrator. IT monitoring has never been more important and with the right tools in place, IT administrators can keep an eye on blind spots. Here are three ways effective IT monitoring can help:

1. Bring OT data into your monitoring concept

One of the best ways to minimise blind spots in your infrastructure is to consolidate all your monitoring data into one tool that can be used to combine OT infrastructure data with IT data. Having everything in one place helps to ensure a streamlined monitoring process.

While not directly a part of OT, another important aspect is the IIoT. IIoT sensors are critical to factories –  measuring environmental aspects like temperature, humidity, vibration levels and more. To truly get a unified picture of your industrial IT, you should include the health of these IIoT sensors (and in some instances, the data they deliver as well).

2. Centralised dashboards with IT and OT data

Once you have the data in one place, you can create centralised dashboards that include IT, OT and IIoT elements. These are key to understanding the health and status of the entire infrastructure. Having a clear overview of IT, OT and IIoT areas in one place will help IT administrators keep track of the entire network and as a result will reduce the likelihood of overlooking blind spots.

3. Scale up with your infrastructure

It’s also crucial to have an IT monitoring system designed to work with large infrastructure in mind. A monitor that can handle hundreds, even thousands, of devices is crucial for larger businesses with growing areas of IT, OT and IIoT to monitor.

Of course no infrastructure is static, so your system needs to allow you to expand monitoring capabilities along with increasing requirements. This helps when you need to expand monitoring concepts to include OT and IIoT devices.

So, as convergence continues to expand the range of responsibilities for IT administrators, it is more important than ever that they are equipped with the right tools for effective IT monitoring. With blind spots under control, infrastructure can continue to expand and develop alongside businesses with minimal disruption, leaving the IT team the ability and capacity to tackle issues as they arise.

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