Securing the Connected Value Proposition

Security Is Job One in Realizing the Potential of the Connected Enterprise

By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

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The proliferation of Internet-enabled devices and the deployment of standard Ethernet across control systems have the potential for delivering tremendous benefits. What Rockwell Automation calls the Connected Enterprise allows substantive collaboration among people, plant-floor systems and enterprise applications. The connections facilitate collaboration to improve overall productivity and sustainability.

But as the historic disconnect between enterprise and production networks is bridged, manufacturers, producers and utilities need to better understand potential security risks and the best practices needed to develop a more secure environment.

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In a morning session at today's Automation Perspectives media event leading up to the Rockwell Automation Automation Fair, presenters aimed to help media and analysts better understand the importance of protecting industrial control and information systems and key elements in implementing an effective security strategy.

"When we speak to our customers about moving a Connected Enterprise forward, it's not unusual for them to raise two concerns: cost and security," began John Nesi, Rockwell Automation's vice president of global market development. "So as we discuss this, we have to realize that the vision of the Connected Enterprise includes value creation."

That value opportunity comes directly from the technology opportunity. "We're in the middle of an amazing technology transition that has a big impact on business," said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco. Soderbery oversees the strategy, engineering and marketing direction of the company's networking technology for the enterprise, and his organization is responsible for the core technologies critical to business customers.

That transition is influenced by three big macro trends, Soderbery said. "It's the economics of the growth of emerging vs. developed countries; it's energy consumption and what the demands and sources will be moving forward; and it's social demographics of hyper growth in emerging markets, and declining workforce and aging population in developed countries."

Productivity, he added, will be at the heart of solutions dealing with these issues. "The next wave of productivity will come out of the Internet of Things (IoT)." By 2020, we'll have 50 billion connected things connected to the Internet.

"But the big impact, the stunning opportunity here, is in industry. When you can connect things, processes and data in the cloud, you can create new real-world applications in logistics, in segments that are upstream in the supply chain."

Cisco says there's $14.4 trillion in increased value to be realized in the private sector over the next 10 years in this Internet of Everything. "That value will come from benefits in innovation expansion, enhanced customer experiences, asset utilization, employee productivity, and supply chain and logistics improvements," Soderbery said.

These opportunities are there across all the big verticals. "We tend to find a ‘killer app' in each segment that is so powerful that it makes other initiatives more feasible and achievable," Soderbery explained. "BT Hydro in British Columbia is an example of this. They're concluding a smart meter project that will provide a $100 million savings by pulling the meter readers off the street. And there are other opportunity areas that will increase that number. That's one application in one utility, in one province in one country. These numbers add up very quickly."

Soderbery believes that once you've built an application like this, you've basically built a new infrastructure: You've connected the systems you're capable of monitoring; now you can do predictive maintenance, traceability, mobile control rooms, wireless machines, supply chain and other applications.