Beyond the Corporate IT Environment: Industrial vs Enterprise Networks
In many organizations, the technological needs of the industrial network have often taken a backseat to the needs of the enterprise network. For many years, this resulted in plant managers implementing connected plant floor technology as older systems needed upgrading. Since one of the key roles of a plant floor manager is to reduce downtime, during an upgrade, their goal was to seamlessly integrate the new part, and not necessarily to develop a long-term strategy for the industrial network. On the opposite end of the spectrum, over time, enterprise network growth was generally very well planned and precise.
But, the perception of how to manage industrial networks is changing as factories become smarter and increasingly rely on data connectivity to function more efficiently and reliably. As this shift happens, it’s important for everyone in an organization to understand how enterprise and industrial networks differ. Similarly, it is also essential to identify best practices from enterprise IT that can be incorporated into the plant floor.
To start, there are several critical differences between enterprise and industrial networks that organizations, and more specifically, IT managers overseeing an industrial network, should be aware of including the following:
Physical considerations and limitations of the plant floor
The need to avoid any network downtime
How to support hundreds of interconnected devices
Network segmentation and isolation
Unique security concerns
To make necessary changes and upgrades to the industrial network, downtime must be scheduled to minimize impact to production.
Once the organization has a handle on these differences, they can think about the areas where best practices from their enterprise IT would translate well to the plant floor. This could involve practices such as having a life-cycle strategy for equipment, routine maintenance plans to extend life cycles, and providing detailed documentation and network mapping.
To make this process of determining what practices should and should not translate from the enterprise to the industrial network, it’s best to have IT and plant managers work side-by-side with a trusted systems integrator. With nearly 25 years’ experience building and managing factory and front office-side IT architectures, Cybertrol is well positioned to work hand-in-hand with manufacturers to turn any plant floor into a secure and reliable industrial network. Based on our in-depth knowledge of industrial network best practices, security, and industry standards and protocols, Cybertrol is well positioned to work with your IT department to build the smart network today that you will need for tomorrow.
Download our whitepaper, Beyond the Corporate IT Environment: Embracing the Differences Between Industrial and Enterprise Networks to learn more.