The Benefits of Hybrid Architectures for Operations Control
Written by Melinda Corley, Product Marketing Manager, AVEVA
The traditional model of HMI/SCADA and other operations control solutions relies on a system located on-premise to gather data so that operators and managers can make rapid decisions. For decades this served to help organizations optimize operations at a local level, but as technology improves and additional benefits appear outside this traditional model, it may be time for plant managers and even executives to think beyond on-premise and adopt a hybrid architecture to improve operational efficiency and empower their workforce with greater insights.
What is a Hybrid Architecture?
A hybrid architecture for operations control goes beyond a simple on-premise HMI/SCADA system to expand operations control across an entire enterprise rather than a single site. It distributes applications better suited for the cloud, in addition to data gathering and local control on the plant floor to expand accessibility to information, provide disaster recovery, and reduce hardware footprint. Hybrid architectures for operations control make it possible to leverage remote edge fleets, IIoT capabilities, or AI and machine learning, regardless of operation size.
The Benefits of Hybrid Architectures
Hybrid architectures can be a powerful way to break free of information silos. They promote connectivity, and with the same data gathered and visualized between the cloud and on-premise tools, everyone across the entire organization, from the plant floor to the boardroom, make decisions from the same information. This single viewpoint can allow teams to quickly reach consensus and make intelligence-based decisions for the organization, even when sites are globally distributed.
Hybrid architectures also allow organizations to adopt the technology necessary to keep them ahead of the competition. New technologies like the management of edge/IIoT fleets, AI and machine learning, and the ability to share data across the value chain, make it possible to contextualize, transform and move information more than ever before.
Cloud-enhanced hybrid architectures are also easier to update and maintain than legacy on-premise architectures. With applications and operations control software benefiting from the cloud, user adoption and confidence in the data increases. According to a Gartner/MESA survey of manufacturers, “improving employee decision making and competency”, is a key criteria for considering cloud-supported operations solutions.
The Challenges of Hybrid Systems
There are caveats to hybrid systems. One common concern when it comes to hybrid operations control architectures is security. Any time data is stored on the cloud or exposed to the internet there is some inherent risk that it may be compromised by a malicious actor. However, some of this danger may be balanced by adopting a modern security posture that can include keeping software fully patched and encouraging strong IT/OT cooperation to mitigate digital and physical security risks to the organization.
Another challenge encountered with some hybrid systems are reliability and latency issues. As systems grow more complex and are distributed across geographically dispersed networks, additional steps may be necessary to ensure that the systems carrying and storing data are protected with backups and redundancies in case of failure.
How to Rapidly Adopt Hybrid Architectures
The easiest way to incorporate some of the benefits of a hybrid architecture into your current operations control is to consider cloud-ready options like AVEVA Operations Control, which include access to AVEVA’s tools for hybrid architectures like AVEVA Connect, as well as HMI/SCADA solutions that include edge management, IIoT capabilities, data insights, and more. AVEVA Operations Control solutions are subscription based as well, meaning that you’ll always have access to the most recent version of your software and all security updates and patches.