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The Convergence and Standardization of IT and OT with Andy Foster of IOTech | Utilizing Tech 05×16

Industrial control and operational technology systems face the same forces as IT applications and are rapidly being integrated into comprehensive edge infrastructure. This episode of Utilizing Edge brings Andy Foster of IOTech to discuss standardization of industrial IoT with Allyson Klein and Stephen Foskett. There are many more similarities between industrial control systems and information technology systems than many people realize. Both are impacted by standards in commodity hardware, networking and communications protocols, and cloud integration. And OT and IT are colliding at the edge, with a massive opportunity to leverage data.

The Convergence and Standardization of IT and OT

This episode of Utilizing Tech focuses on the standardization and convergence of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), especially at the edge. Stephen Foskett and Allyson Klein engage in a discussion with Andy Foster, co-founder of IOTech, about the intersection of Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing, particularly in the industrial domain. The discussion revolves around the similarities between industrial control systems (ICS) or OT and IT and their integration facilitated by standards in commodity hardware, networking and communication protocols, and cloud integration. The conversation also includes the challenges met in this convergence while highlighting the potential of IoT as it integrates with edge computing.

The discussion begins with the convergence of IT and OT in industrial controls, discussing how OT, previously isolated, is merging with IT. This change, happening over recent years, faces both technical and cultural barriers, requiring mutual understanding between IT and OT personnel. Foster explains that open standards, concurrent data processing both at the edge and in the cloud, maturity in technology, and advanced enabling technologies are all key to promoting OT and IT convergence.

Foster further discusses the application of new standards like OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) or MQTT to simplify data communication from different protocols, benefiting both OT personnel in the field and IT personnel in the cloud environment. He notes that the traditionally hardware-centric OT world is shifting towards software, incorporating industrial computers, lightweight controllers, and redeveloping traditional hardware-based control systems into software workloads.

The podcast explores further on the adoption of IT technologies in OT, elaborating on developments like virtualization and containerization, and the ability to run control systems on PCs as virtualized workloads. Discussing the use of MQTT, Foster points out its scalability and flexibility, allowing businesses to efficiently integrate various elements into their system over time.

Lastly, the conversation revolves around data usage opportunities from the edge and OT. Traditionally siloed systems are now viewing data as an avenue for deeper insights across the organization. Foster explains how transforming data on-premise through Edge platforms allows for efficient and safe data transmission. Local edge nodes processing data minimize the load sent to the cloud, making integration easier. Foster concludes by mentioning IOTech Systems’ role in managing edge systems and facilitating the convergence of IT and OT environments.

Podcast Information

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About the author

Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett is an active participant in the world of enterprise information technology, currently focusing on enterprise storage, server virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. He organizes the popular Tech Field Day event series for Gestalt IT and runs Foskett Services. A long-time voice in the storage industry, Stephen has authored numerous articles for industry publications, and is a popular presenter at industry events. He can be found online at,, and on Twitter at @SFoskett.

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