Creating a connected and secure industry tops talks at automation event

Wednesday November 13, 2013
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The connected enterprise and industrial control system security were two of the major themes at Rockwell Automation’s annual Automation Perspectives media event on Tuesday, which precedes the company’s Automation Fair conference and tradeshow. More than 100 media from 25 countries gathered in Houston for the event, and Manufacturing AUTOMATION was there.

“There are many smart things or assets in a typical plant. Thousands of assets, all with something to say, but are they being heard?” Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, asked representatives of the press and analyst community at the event. “Historically, data has been trapped in these assets due to disparate automation technology, machines and equipment from many different machine builders, legacy and proprietary communication systems, [and the] inability for devices and controllers to add context around data to turn it into useful information. The result is that the plant floor is difficult to collect, aggregate or analyse,” added Nosbusch.

During his presentation, Rob Soderbery, senior vice-president and general manager, Enterprise Networking Group, Cisco, said that the number of devices connected to the Internet has surpassed the number of people on the Internet, and that trend is continuing. And by 2020, he added, he expects to see 50 billion smart objects.

"We're in the middle of an amazing technology transition that has a direct impact on business," Soderbery said. "We believe the next wave of productivity is going to come out of the Internet of Things and transition the real world to a networked economy."

The real opportunity here is in asset intensive industries, he said. It's about connecting things, people, processes and data in the cloud, which allows you to create new applications (in logistics, in supply chain, inside the plant, etc.) that pull together information collected from things using process, big data, analytics, and pulling all of the data together to make decisions. Soderbery said there is $14.4 trillion of value at stake in the private sector over the next decade for Internet of Things applications. The Internet of Everything, as Cisco calls it, has the potential to grow corporate global profits by 21 per cent in aggregate by 2022.  

This, of course, brings up concerns about security. These days you have to be much more aware of the type of traffic your network is attracting, looking at both the content and the context of the traffic to make decisions as to whether the traffic is a threat, Soderbery explained. Chief Information Security Officers today have to understand the threat landscape — who are the bad guys, what are the bad guys trying to do, what actions are the bad guys likely to take, what actions are they taking now, and what is the next thing I need to do to protect myself.

“High visibility attacks on production processes and infrastructure have increased,” Rockwell’s Nosbusch added. “Over the past several years, we have seen our best customers move security from a non-priority to one of their most critical business concerns. Industrial security must be effectively addressed as we build out the connected enterprise.”

Many products and solutions from Rockwell, Cisco and their partners designed to help build the connected enterprise and increase industrial control system security will be showcased on the tradeshow floor during the 22nd annual Automation Fair, held for the first time in Houston, from November 13-14, 2013. For more information, visit www.automationfair.com.

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