Evolving operations require evolving architectures
Written by Jeremy Wilbert, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, AVEVA
More connectivity, more data, more visibility. These are the demands driving significant change in how operations systems are designed and operated. At the forefront of this drive for change is the need to optimize equipment performance, process efficiencies, and responsiveness to internal and external influences. To accommodate these demands, process control technology has had to rapidly evolve over the last decade. This evolution includes new capabilities and requirements, including remote access, cloud, and mobility.
These capabilities bring a wealth of value to users, process control and optimization efforts, and the organization as a whole. Remote access is particularly effective at overcoming challenges for geographically dispersed operations and accommodating accessibility needs in the face of on-site policy restrictions. Cloud has introduced new methods for scalability and IT cost-shedding, while also supporting accessibility, data sharing and data transformation.
Mobility takes advantage of both cloud and remote access, allowing users to work on the go with few limitations.
However, evolving innovations bring with them many security and technical implications that require architectural consideration for how a chosen solution can adapt, including:
- What communications are required to assemble the necessary data?
- How can data be replicated across firewalls and DMZs to accommodate visibility requirements?
- Where should applications reside while minimizing technical friction?
- Can software be distributed to reduce hardware load?
- What device types will the architecture need to support?
- How is user access managed across applications, devices and locations?
- How can updates and patches be applied seamlessly?
These and many other factors adjust the expectation for network and software architecture design. This becomes particularly challenging with the differing pace of technology change that can exist between on-premises and cloud-based components. On-premises software needs to adopt a model that promotes continuous evolution of capability and security to remain effective and secure. While also supporting limitless architectural design options for flexibility. This will allow on-premises software to remain in-step with cloud-based applications to reduce misalignment and ensure the best architecture design choices.