Operational Technologies (OT)

Traditionally, Information Technologies (IT) have been separate from Operational Technologies (OT). However, lately we have seen how these two worlds are converging. Not only are IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) becoming more interconnected than ever before, but both technologies are also increasingly connected to the Internet.

All this has brought IT and OT closer together than ever. They share many needs, problems and experiences which allows for new efficiencies, synergies and learning to flourish.

In today’s post we will review some of the main differences between Information Technologies (IT) and Operational Technologies (OT)

But first we will explain the meaning of both concepts:

  • IT: stands for “Information Technology”. IT refers to anything related to computing technology. Some examples are: CRM, ERP, Email, etc.
  • OT: stands for “Operational Technology”. Gartner refers to OT as “Hardware and software that detects or causes a change through the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes and events in the enterprise.” Some examples of OTs are: SCADA, PLCS, HMIs, etc.
Information Technologies (IT)Operational Technologies (OT)
Function It refers to telecommuncations equipment. Information Technology focuses on the storage, recovery, transmission, manipulation and protection of data. OT is more oriented to the control of processes or their change through the monitoring and control of devices
Use, areaBusiness-orientedIndustrial-oriented
Access Connected with the outside world Very restricted access. Limited to people with certain privileges.
Assets Vs workers The number of assets is usually equal (or close) to the number of professionalsMore autonomous. More devices than professionals.
Frequency change Constantly changing: new employees joining the company (=new devices connected) and former employees leaving the company (=devices that are disconnected) Less changing environment (there may be no changes for months to years)
Environment Controlled, stable and constant OTs endure adverse weather conditions (extreme temperatures or humidity levels, among others).
Interface and Network Web browser, keyboard, device Sensors, coded or touch screens
Main priorityData security (usually confidential data) Uptime. The availability and integrity of the legacy and no longer systedevices is essential
Updates Constant due to software updates. Service interruptions are tolerable and, in some cases, programmable outside of working hours Updates must be tested carefully in advance and, usually involve restarting or stopping the machines. Consequently legacy systems are very frequent.
Life cycle Shorter life cycles (3-5 years)OT systems have longer life cycles (15-20 years). As a result, legacy systems and no longer supported ones are frequent.
cessing requirements Minutes-days Miliseconds-Seconds
Objective Logical security (no lives at risk). The objective is to protect confidential information from any potential risk (human error, natural disasters, cyberattacks, etc.). The objective is to protect the environment, people and infrastructures
Operating System Standard Operating Systems Specific purpose equipment with propietary Operating Systems (Custom-developed software).

With our web isolation technology RITech it is possible to isolate not only IT but also critical infraestructures and OT systems. Find out how RITech can help your business.
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