3 ways to align IT and OT asset management practices

  • Solutions
  • Manufacturing
  • 2022
  • John Dougherty
April 07, 2022

IT and operational technology asset management in manufacturing: man in factory looking at laptop while working machine

Smart factory advancements in manufacturing mean more and more operational technology (OT) devices are connected to the network. Today, more than ever before, it’s possible to visualize and monitor OT asset health the way you monitor IT assets.

It’s even possible to see the relationships and dependencies between manufacturing and OT assets. This reduces the risk that an OT-related patch or change will negatively impact the production environment. Tasks such as patches, for instance, can be scheduled during planned downtime periods, when needed.

A unified approach

The opportunity to create a unified view of the IT and OT estate in one place, and a cohesive approach to asset management, is exciting in a world where IT and OT silos have historically led to downtime and introduced risk.

However, IT and OT assets are still quite different—as are the priorities of the teams that manage them. It’s not as simple as transplanting IT asset management best practices for OT.

OT assets tend to have significantly higher demand for reliability and availability than IT assets do—as well as safety and quality concerns to prioritize. Yet, there are many places where a more unified approach can benefit everyone—especially when it comes to security.

Even as manufacturers establish OT security operations centers (SOCs) in alignment with how they’ve set up their IT SOCs, many are cautious to fully integrate these teams. The skill sets and technical requirements of IT and OT assets can still be quite distinct. However, these teams can be better aligned in three ways.

Both IT and OT can benefit from a more unified approach to security—an area that will only become more critical in an era of hyperconnected manufacturing.

1. Process

The first step often comes from aligning IT and OT security teams from a process standpoint. When both teams follow a consistent workflow—aligned to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) best practices and industry standards—the manufacturer has greater consistency in how incidents are managed, no matter whether the impacted asset is IT or OT.

2. Technology

Next, there’s an opportunity to align the IT and OT SOCs with unified technology. With advancements such as the Fujitsu OT Digital Transformation solution, based on ServiceNow Operational Technology Management, it’s now possible to gain a consolidated view of all IT and OT assets—and security endpoints—in one place.

Aligning IT and OT security technology creates an opportunity to visualize and prioritize security threats across the entire IT and OT estate—and see how a threat or remediation in one area might impact dependent devices.

3. Personnel

Ultimately, there may also be potential to align the actual personnel supporting IT and OT security into a unified team (with specialist roles). This true IT and OT convergence could help center both teams on the right priorities: maximizing uptime, quality, safety, and efficiency.

Although IT and OT convergence has long been on the radar, advancements in OT asset management have made it even more critical. Lessons from the long history of IT asset management need to be applied, and adaptions must be made to make IT asset management practices relevant to OT.

However, both IT and OT can benefit from a more unified approach to security—an area that will only become more critical in an era of hyperconnected manufacturing.

Find out more in our ebook about how ServiceNow and Fujitsu help manufacturers maximize OT uptime.

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