Defining IT, OT and IIoT

The terms “Information Technology” (IT) and “Operations Technology” (OT) have come into common use as a means of differentiating between the computers, networks and associated devices in manufacturing and operations and those employed for typical business solutions. Although the IT term has been with us for decades, the OT term has become popular much more recently. It has been loosely defined as “… a category of hardware and software that monitors and controls how physical devices perform.” Hasn’t a very similar definition been traditionally applied to the term “automation?” If so, then how is OT different than automation? The OT term may be “old wine in new bottles,” or perhaps the above definition isn’t adequate.

There is another new trend and associated term to deal with. It is the “Industrial Internet of Things” or IIoT. Also referred to as Industrial Internet, it has been defined as “… incorporating machine learning and big data technology, harnessing the sensor data, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and automation technologies.” (Machine learning and big data are themselves topical subjects that appear often in industry journals and magazines.)

For each of these domains or subject areas, many of the basic computing and communications technologies have been with us for years, although IIoT-related developments may be applying them in new and interesting ways.

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