What does OT stand for in tech? Operational technology (OT) is a class of hardware and software that keeps an eye on and regulates the operation of physical objects.
In the past, industrial control systems for manufacturing, transportation, and utilities were the main applications for OT; but, unlike information technology (IT), the equipment used to manage operations in those sectors wasn’t networked. For controlling or monitoring physical equipment, many of the instruments were mechanical, and those that possessed digital controls did so through closed, exclusive protocols.
However, there is a growing tendency toward IT/OT convergence as physical objects get smarter. Administrators in charge of OT now have improved monitoring systems and remote access to physical equipment thanks to wireless connections. The ability to evaluate data produced by physical devices in real time has brought about a sea shift in machine-to-machine communication and machine learning, allowing autonomy, preventative maintenance, and increased uptime
Industrial control systems and supervisory control and data acquisition networks now use internet-capable technologies. However, the same security issues that IT faces, such as malware, identity management, and access control, also affect operational technology. The distinction is that OT system flaws put vital infrastructure at risk of sabotage, which might lead to life-or-death circumstances.
What is the importance of (OT) Operational Technology?
For enterprises and society at large, OT is essential. Organisationally, OT often connects to key business procedures. OT is frequently the same thing that makes it possible to create things in a plant. Similarly, hospitals rely on OT equipment to identify patients with a range of ailments. A service outage would significantly impede or even stop the organization’s key business operations for a company or other organization that depends on OT.
On a larger scale, society relies on OT to maintain vital infrastructure. A ransomware attack resulted in the closure of the Colonial Pipeline in May 2021. The pipeline, which may be called an OT in and of itself, transports 2.5 million barrels of petroleum daily, and the closure caused a severe fuel crisis on the East Coast. This is but one illustration of how important certain operational technology may be.
Some examples for clarification
Although not just employed in industrial organizations, the phrase “operational technology” is frequently used in these settings. Several instances of operational technology applications
- Surveillance systems
- Conveyer and transport systems
- Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machines
- Scientific equipment (Like a digital microscope)
- Quality monitoring
The variety of systems categorized as operational technology is evident in all of the aforementioned instances. Building automation and some laboratory equipment are also regarded as OT, in addition to production lines, automated warehouses, and the airport.
For what Operational Technology is optimized?
IT is not created or optimized for the same things as operational technology.
OT aims to minimize scheduled or unexpected downtime by keeping a machine or facility operational. This indicates that OT systems are created for little failure, little upkeep, and a long lifespan. The long lifespan, which may exceed 30 years, is all the more impressive when you consider the abrasive, vibrating, and temperature-dependent environments in which OT could be used.
A malfunctioning operational technology system might have serious negative effects on both people and technology. Imagine a power plant losing control due to a malfunctioning sensor in a feedback loop, or a bridge falling due to a brake control system failure. As a result, it is designed for safety and dependability, minimizing the possibility of disastrous failure.
Low and steady latency is crucial since operation technological systems are likely to interact with quick operations. Control chains with fluctuating or high latency might produce a variety of undesirable behavior, such as oscillations or overshoots. Operation Technological systems are designed for low and consistent latency in the millisecond range and lower.
Operational technology is designed to be flexible so that it can adapt to changes in the operational process and satisfy site-specific needs. The level of standardization in the OT field is reduced as a result of this flexibility.
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