K.I.S.S. for Better Network Planning and Increased Collaboration

Collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is becoming a necessity to design and deploy an industrial network architecture that follows IT best practices for security, high availability, and quality of service.

However, skills gaps still exist between IT and OT that can jeopardize effective planning and configuration of the physical and logical network fabric, especially at the switch level.  In the words of Panduit Solutions Manager Dan McGrath, “My contention is that two kinds of switches are found in many plants today: (1) unmanaged and (2) poorly managed!”

Dan makes a point worth considering, as unmanaged switches are often deployed to enable quick initial startup of the machine or process.  However, this short-term gain can turn into a long-term loss when the time comes to scale more nodes or integrate single machines into the wider factory network, in the form of increased time and materials costs.

Deploying managed switches is a definite step up, but can give plant teams a false sense of manageability and security. If managed switches are deployed as plug-and-play devices without attention to configuration and setup, IT/OT directors may be left with a network that works on Day 1 but is teetering on the edge of functionality or with major security flaws.

To update a famous acronym, I think there is a better approach that IT and OT teams can follow that will drive better network planning and increased team collaboration:  Know, Integrate, Simplify, and Standardize, or K.I.S.S.

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Common Core State Standards Initiative

Common Core Standards MapAs many of us know, Common Core is a set of high academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts.  The standards outline what students are going to accomplish throughout each school year.  The ultimate goal is to prepare America’s students for college and career as stated by the Common Core State Standards.  In effort to achieve these goals, school systems are now being asked to integrate technology into their academic programs, i.e. digital materials, present with multiple media formats, as well as promote collaboration amongst students and schools with the use of blogs and social media.

The Common Core Initiative has been received with mixed reviews from parents across the country, however there are also challenges for  educational IT departments as well.  With all of the new technologies being introduced into the classroom, you now have increased devices connected to the network, higher bandwidth demands, speed expectations, increased wireless coverage, network security issues, and not to mention the budget to fund it all!

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