Two worlds collide: IT vs. OT
It is high time for the OEMs of the automotive industry, i.e. the vehicle manufacturers. The steady development of the industry towards electric vehicles, connected cars and data-driven production lines has gained momentum. Sales of electric cars in Europe have increased from 198,000 in 2018 to an expected 1.17 million last year, while investments in electric and battery technology will amount to $ 330 billion over the next five years. If even a brand like Mercedes-Benz says that it will concentrate completely on the production of electric vehicles by 2025, it is probably fair to say that things are only really getting started now.
With the automotive industry transitioning to electric vehicles and increasingly autonomous driving, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need a unified platform to manage complexity and data volume
As OEMs focus on connected cars and in-vehicle automation, the race for the best functionality in the class is open. The engine, entertainment system and everything in between is controlled by software. The software, in turn, produces huge amounts of data, which are transmitted via telemetry to the cloud and local systems for continuous assessment and analysis of the condition of the car. It follows that assembly lines and production plants are also increasingly being data-controlled.
This trend puts two once very separate worlds – computer–controlled information technology (IT) and engineer-controlled operating technology (OT) – on a collision course. Suddenly, OEMs are faced with the challenge of finding a common format for integrating and analyzing data from a stack of different silo systems. The only way to cope with this data complexity is a software that both complements the hardware and collects all the information in a universal data hub.
In an automotive production environment, IT refers to everything that supports the company’s internal infrastructure. OT refers to firmware or applications that run in industrial machines or plants. A data-driven approach inevitably requires teams from these two very different fields to work closely together. The task is complicated by the fact that data from operational sources is always written in customized, sometimes outdated code, which differs from machine to machine. Somehow you need to connect and collaborate this data with the IT infrastructure, which can include sensors from devices from the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based applications, computer processors and storage systems.
According to Pure Storage, the task of making good use of all this complex data is a real challenge for OEMs.
The first step is to bring all this information together in a unified platform with common means of communication and protocols so that everything communicates with each other. Once this common data platform is set up, it opens up a number of other advantages, such as simplification, coordination, streamlined processes, risk reduction and shorter time to market.
A good cooperation between IT and OT results in numerous advantages. Here Pure Storage gives three examples:
OEMs can streamline their development processes to be more productive
A good example is the use of data analysis tools to identify weak points in the production process. Once these are discovered, the next step is relatively simple: either they will be replaced by faster machines or additional employees will be hired. Similarly, a data analysis could track down a robot operating well below its capacity. In this case, the reaction may consist in increasing the production rate or replacing the machine with a smaller model.
IT best practices such as security updates and patch management can be introduced into operational systems
In some cases, it is not possible to update older OT systems remotely. However, in a unified ecosystem, an IT scan can at least create an inventory of the compromised systems so that they can be separated from the rest of the network by air gaps to reduce the vulnerability until a technician can be dispatched to install the latest firmware.
Compliance with service-level agreements can be improved by using IT systems to monitor the use of industrial machinery
Personnel can be alerted when a machine is due for maintenance due to its use. Due to the proper maintenance of systems, downtimes due to machine failures can be avoided. Conversely, the costs for planned maintenance work can be reduced if they are not required.
On-demand data management for the automotive industry
The next stage is to repeat the same IT/OT model for the car itself. A single connected vehicle can have 1,000 to 2,000 different electronic control units (ECUs) that control brakes, oil temperature, engine, transmission, etc. A single networked vehicle generates up to 25 gigabytes of telematics data per hour, a small part of which is transmitted outside the vehicle.
The goal is to bring all these data and technology sources together on a unified platform in the data center and in the cloud. In practice, this is an on-demand data management platform with a common software layer for local and cloud workloads. The platform is responsible for managing the collection, analysis, cataloging, labeling, merging, management and distribution of telematics data. It also manages whether the data is stored on-premises, in the cloud or in a multi-cloud environment. The platform must also enable companies to find their own way through this increasingly complex world of dynamic telemetry data. In this way, an automobile manufacturer can finally connect the IT / OT data from production with the growing IT / OT data set on board the vehicle.
In summary, Pure Storage believes that electric vehicles and their onboard software systems will take the automotive world by storm. OEMs are in a hurry to complete the digital transformation of their business models and need to unify systems and processes in the once separate IT and OT areas of their company. The sheer complexity and volume of the data involved is astounding. Bridging this huge gap is only possible with the right software and a data and cloud-independent management platform that is able to interpret the huge amounts of information, regardless of their IT or OT origin.