PPL Electric Utilities has been named one of the most trusted utility brands in the United States

There is an old saying about attracting opposites and there is an example of that concept in a grid network. Those two opposites are information technology (IT) and operating technology (OT). IT sits at one end of the digital grid as a business application, and the old one at the other end as an asset-based application. The two platforms have been working side by side for decades. In many cases, even in the air space (talk to a computer in isolation).

The most popular technical term for joining these two systems is IT / OT integration. A merger may seem like a horoscope rather than a technological breakthrough, but it is true when these two different entities meet. Integrating IT and OT into one platform is leading to some exciting applications that are not available when the two systems are independent. By combining them, they can work together and utilize resources. For our discussion, let’s stay with the IT / OT partnership agreement and take a closer look at the process.

IT + OT = IT / OT

It had to overcome preconceived notions that the only side of the equation was the corporate application (ie billing, accounting, customer service, etc.), which is a deadline concept. Smart Grid Digitization has added depth to the IT network through real-time data collection. Today’s IT platforms are becoming increasingly sophisticated with advanced automation and data analytics. Data sharing improves everything from customer information systems to termination management systems and demand management systems.

OT forums are typically associated with maintenance schedules, device monitoring, electronic formatting manuals, etc., but as with IT technology requires real-time data analysis. Modern OT platforms have reached device-to-device and device-to-computer applications. These platforms strengthen sophisticated asset management systems and control systems that do not require much human interaction.

By integrating IT and OT with IT / OT networks, utilities can streamline data management, but require the removal of organizational shelters. IT / OT applications are more efficient when there is access to information within the organization that is connected to the two platforms operating on different databases. IT / OT. Coupling reduces repetition, improves overlap, and increases operational efficiency. To sum up, consider that old geometric theory, “the whole is greater than the sum of the elements.”

Enable IT / Blue

According to Hitachi ABB Power Grid, “IT connectivity is a key driver of the digital transformation journey that begins with providing real-time and real-time asset visibility. Ability to integrate data streams from multiple sources to improve results or identify new ways to improve or develop the business. Hitachi ABB continued, “The lines between IT and the Old have been blurred over time, and data collection, analysis, and cigarette digitalization have accelerated this integration.”

Utilities recognize that they need to invest in systems that support IT and OT at all levels of the organization. Black & Vich (B & V) “Strategic Directions for Electricity 2020” examines more than 600 energy sector stakeholders from the grid trends and challenges. The report notes that the electricity industry is seeing sufficient activity that could change the way it views the benefits of integrated IT / OT systems. He added, “A total of 68 percent of respondents agreed that the integrated plan of IT / OT would provide significant benefits.”

As IT / OT systems improved, digital technologies did not stop there. They are proving to be competent additions to IT / OT integration with large data analytics, artificial intelligence (II), cloud-based computing and storage. These applications make the most complex technology very user-friendly.

Users do not have to be experts in data management or specialization in various IT platforms. All of this is managed by hybrid software. Adds new members to existing asset management platforms, advanced distribution management systems, eviction management systems, etc.

Siemens Energy notes, “Advanced integration has long been confined to the IT world, due to security concerns and the risk of infiltration of critical OT infrastructure from the outside world. However, with the enhancement of cyber security and the addition of digital security solutions, most consumer and industrial companies are now integrating their IT and OT environments. ”

Cyber ​​Security Space

IT / OT connection The IT side has been linked to cyber security for many years, but the OT side is covered by the outside world. Landis + Gyr reports, “The rapidly evolving communication model presents cyber security risks and threats to a new industry. The Internet of Things (IOT) has changed the face of the energy industry. IP enabled networks connect the OT side to the consumption and the IT side. This means communication between SCADA, AMI, DA and consumer engagement systems.

“Global cybercrime is expected to grow by 15% annually over the next five years, generating $ 10.5 trillion annually by 2025,” says Hitachi ABB Power Grid. With so many OT tools, this growing cyber threat is being taken seriously. B&V’s “Strategic 2020 Electricity Report” asked respondents if their companies had a standard cyber security program. 68.9% said, “Yes, it covers IT and BK.” The study found that despite improvements in cyber security, many tools were still working to close the gap, and digital technologies were making a difference.

In the past, cyber security has focused on greater recognition and response, but the large amount of information generated by all interconnected devices makes that approach difficult. When the system recognizes the threat, it is time to do something about it. That’s what AI is learning, the algorithms and the cognitive calculations are changing. The same digital devices that make IT / OT applications user-friendly are offering some killer applications in the cyber-world.

Cyber ​​Solution

One of these was highlighted in a recent press release from Simmons Energy. In collaboration with ServiceNow, they reported the development of the MID-led Recognition and Response (MDR). Siemens points out that the MDR system is an AI-based platform designed specifically for the wealthy, and is powered by Eos.ii.

Siemens Energy said, “The MDR system provides a uniform picture of the useless behavior of defenders with practical insights to stop attacks. The service goes beyond routine monitoring with an in-depth understanding of how digital systems relate to the real world. With the combined OT and IT data stream, the MDR Eos.ii technology platform uses AI and digital twin technology to compare billions of real-time data points with real-world assets. This not only gives Siemens Energy analysts the impression of what is unusual but also the context in which they are used. The integrated success of integrated data streams and machine learning makes it an unprecedented platform for targeted, in-depth analysis.

Another exciting real-time active cyber defense system is a digital spirit platform developed by Gee that uses in-depth domain knowledge, AI and the latest control theory. According to GE, “Digital Ghost is a new example of protecting industrial assets and critical infrastructure from malicious cyber attacks and natural disasters. In addition to the current IT layer solutions, the physical domain layer provides a new layer of protection.

GEE continued, “In today’s power plants, all the important assets, such as gas turbines, are managed by physics. Digital Ghost uses the knowledge of digital twins, associated control systems, and advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to continuously monitor the behavior of the asset. Even if the user’s user interface is all right, it may determine that the machine is behaving abnormally due to cyber-attacks.

Focus on the future

The future grid will be more interconnected. The grid will be very different from today. It will become more widespread, and cyber security will become an integral part of that grid. Many manufacturers install sensors and monitoring systems in the factory as part of the device. In addition, manufacturers such as GE, Hitachi ABB, Schneider Electric, Schweizer Laboratories, Siemens Energy and others Build in real-time active cyber security directly in factory equipment.

Initially, IT and OT were independent of each other, and then, in the case of distributed energy resources and integrated asset management systems, much was happening without mentioning fossil fuels. The need for communication and data became important, and IT / OT began to modernize the grid in a way no one could have predicted. In the case of IoT or Grid, industrial IoT or IIoT is bridging the gap between the two systems by creating a flexible, robust and green grid. It is inconvenient, but the benefits are worth it!

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