Rudyard Kipling once posed, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” At one time Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) also were considered two distinct realms. While the world economy has certainly eroded the separation of East and West, Smart Grid development has blurred distinction between OT and IT in utility operations management.
Operations Technology (OT) – the operating gear and control applications that are the backbone of safe and reliable generation and energy delivery – is often applied within mission-critical framework and is recognizable by personnel working in utility operations. Quietly humming along in the field, classic OT is usually less known to those outside utility operations.
Information Technology (IT), on the other hand, consists of the systems that allow machines to exchange information directly with humans throughout utility offices, and even with the utility consumer.
Now, the need for Smart Grid performance is driving IT into the previous realm of OT, where it is being implemented by the electric utility to model, monitor, and manage the distribution system. And newly-minted devices are welcoming IT’s arrival – devices such as medium- and low-voltage line sensors and low-voltage circuit breakers; new inverters to streamline the integration of renewable energy sources; on-load tap changers; and grid- and consumer-scale energy storage devices.
The blurring of distinction between OT and IT will likely make things far more complex for utilities, but it offers tremendous benefits if leveraged properly. Watch for more discussion on how this convergence can enable smarter, more cost-effective, and more reliable operation for utilities.