Making the IT/OT-integrated distribution grid happen

We’ve talked about how the convergence of Operations Technology (OT), the physical grid infrastructure assets and applications, and Information Technology (IT), the human interface that enables rapid and informed decision making, is allowing the automation and control that supports enhanced distribution network management. To enable this Smart Grid performance, there are higher-level infrastructure requirements –

Communications and protocols. The utility will be developing a federation of networks that combines private and public infrastructure and integrates standards-based, open technologies such as IP with existing, proprietary solutions. The utility will need to grow this integrated group of interdependent communications, starting with its legacy systems and with priority on those supporting OT in mission-critical applications.

Standards. Interoperability standards are key in integrating grid devices. Government and industry groups are collaborating to establish the connection definitions and specifications that will close the gaps in current standards and propel the interoperability necessary for successful IT/OT convergence.

Architecture. IT/OT architecture for the grid needs to –

  • Support the integration of existing enterprise systems with the operational modeling, monitoring, and management environment
  • Be able to adapt to future needs
  • Provide the scale and security required for mission-critical functionality

Industry-proven architectural roadmaps are available that can help utilities design an architecture for these capabilities, based on existing infrastructure yet directed towards a converged IT/OT future.

The utility looking to empower operational equipment with IT will want to create a clear, long-term roadmap that addresses these high-level factors, so that each grid modernization application project is deployed to be part of a connected whole. Happy Convergence!


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