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2 min read

IT vs OT... What does it mean?

By Phil Zito on Nov 10, 2017 6:11:42 AM

There's been a phrase floating around lately, and if I'm honest, it's driving me nuts. I'm not quite sure why but it just feels irritating. And that phrase is IT vs OT.

For those of you who haven't had this phraseology come to a neighborhood by you yet, just wait it will. I think what bothers me about this is that it's just another of the slew of phrases that people are throwing around when other, much simpler terms exist.

Let's try this one on for size, instead of relying on the IT network (and all the requirements and gotchas that come with it) let's just use a private network that we own and manage for all of our building systems.

Sure that doesn't sound near as sexy as IT vs OT but it's essentially the same thing and a heck of a lot easier to understand.

Now by this point, you may be wondering, what this has to do with you as a BAS professional.

It has everything to do with you!

OT and your role

If you are in sales, the introduction of OT (aka a private building network) has the benefits of avoiding IT and greater network flexibility. It also has the potential cons of increased complexity when it comes to scoping a project as well as convincing the customer to let you install a private network in the first place,

For the techs and ops managers who are reading this, buckle up because this trains heading your way. Whether you like it or not the smart building industry (and by default the BAS industry is embracing IP and IT concepts). There's no way you can ostrich your way out of this one, you need to embrace (or at least understand) this technological shift.

And finally for those of you who specify, design, or commission buildings this change has huge ramifications on your boilerplate specifications as well as your engineered designs. Networking (IT stuff not business card roulette) has a dramatic effect on how you design and implement systems.

So what is IT vs OT mean?

Quite simply Operational Technology (OT) is a way to bypass the traditional IT limitations by installing your own "network" for your building systems so that you are no longer at the mercy of IT. There are definitely pros to this approach but there are also several cons.

Pros of OT

  • You don't have to work with your IT group (or at least you work very little with IT)
  • You're managing the network, so what you say goes...
  • You can potential siphon some more money for your "budget"

Cons of OT

  • You need to understand IT Technology, no way around this
  • You're managing the network and all the joy and time that entails
  • You have to bear the cost of all the IT gear

So there you have it.

The short and sweet low down on IT vs OT. If this change has you a little concerned don't worry. I've created the perfect training program to bring you rapidly up to speed on IT. Simply click on the image below to learn more!

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Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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