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7 ways industries benefit from OT and IT Convergence



Just like the smartphone disrupted several markets by converging several different consumer devices into a single one, the same disruption is happening with infrastructure in the IT and OT industries --- they are converging into one single system, in a single place: the Edge.

A few definitions: OT, IT, and Convergence

OT - manufacturing.jpgOT, or Operational Technology includes control systems, data acquisition systems, and industrial networks, and according to IDC, it’s “hardware and software technologies that detect and/or create change by the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes, and events.” OT is not IT, and it resides out on the “edge”. The edge is a place, that’s not the data center. It’s a variety of places such as a manufacturing floor, sports stadium, power plant, a building, crop field, or a city street. See Figure 1 for more about edges.


Figure 1 - The multiplicity of edges.png

                               Figure 1. The multiplicity of edges – places that are not the data center or cloud.


IT - data center.jpgEnterprise grade IT consists of server grade high performance processors such as Intel Xeon, scalable storage, and remote systems management. This is not low performing cores or proprietary switching and router processers. No, I’m talking about high performance computing platforms, replete with world class system management. This IT is what you’d find in an enterprise-class data center or cloud. Now a cloud is just a data center that nobody is supposed to know where it is. So when I say data center, it includes clouds as a proper subset. I discuss why it’s good to deploy enterprise grade IT out at the edge in this feature article, The Intelligent Edge.


convergence - mobile payment.jpgConvergence can be thought of as the combination or integration of several disparate components. A classic example is the smart phone, which converges many consumer devices, such as a music player, camera, phone, text, GPS, a flashlight, a wallet, a movie player, etc., all in one device. The great value of this converged of consumer devices is irrefutable – it’s less stuff to buy, set up, and carry around, it uses less energy,  and it’s lower cost. It also promotes the invention of new integrated apps such as Uber and new varieties of social media.


The Convergence of OT and IT

Now back to the topic at hand. Converged OT and IT means first shifting enterprise grade IT out of the data center, and putting it on the edge – right at the sources and sinks of data and control. And, when this IT gets out there on the edge, then disparate OT functions are integrated into the same box as the IT. In sum, several IT components such as high performance processors, scalable storage, and systems management) are combined with OT components such as control systems, data acquisition systems, and industrial networks. Figure 2 graphically depicts this pioneering combination, as manifested by the HPE Converged Edge Systems family. Proven enterprise class IT integrated with OT functions from leading OT companies such as National Instruments.Figure 2 - Converged OT and IT.png

 Figure 2. Converged OT and IT, all in one system out at the edge.


This Converged OT and IT share the same fundamental benefits as discussed earlier with the smart phone metaphor. That is, it’s confoundedly convenient to have one system to buy, configure, and manage. There’s not a lot of space or energy at the edge, and Converged Edge Systems consume less of each. This also promotes the collaboration of IT and OT staff with organizations, which in turn fosters invention and new efficiencies in IoT and Intelligent Edge solutions. In sum, there are seven reasons for Converged OT and IT, summarized in Figure 3, on which I will elaborate in upcoming posts.

The OT and IT that used to be separate is now converged, and its great value is coming to an edge near you.


Figure 3 - The 7 Benefits of Converged OT and IT.png

Figure 3. The 7 Benefits of Converged OT and IT.


Learn more about HPE’s offerings for the Industrial IoT and Intelligent Edge in this business white paper.

Additional resources:


About Dr. Tom Bradicich:

Dr Tom Bradicich profile.jpgDr. Tom Bradicich is Vice President and General Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), leading the global business unit dense scalable servers and IoT Systems and Software, with P&L, worldwide product development, and customer experience ownership. He directs the HPE Discovery Labs and IoT Innovation Labs in the US, Europe, and Asia, for partner and customer collaborations. Tom and his teams are noted for beating sales quotas, and developing innovative and first of a kind solutions that greatly enhance business outcomes for customers world wide. He was named in CRN’s Top 100 Most Influential Executives and Top 25 Disruptors in both 2016 and 2017, and an inductee in the NC State University Alumni Hall of Fame.


HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems are powered by Intel Xeon.


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About the Author


Dr. Tom Bradicich is VP and GM for Servers and IoT Systems at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He was named in Computer Reseller News’ (CRN) Top 25 Disruptors of 2016 and the Top 100 IT Executives of 2016. Tom is known for managing the introduction of innovative products and businesses, recently creating a new product category “Converged IoT Systems”, with HPE Edgeline Systems, expressly designed for the IoT edge. Tom's data center server products have received an InfoWorld 2015 Technology of the Year Award, the 2015 ARM TechCon Best of Show Award, a CRN 2015 Product of the Year Award, and swept all six categories of the 2016 IT Brand Pulse Leader Award.

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