There is a narrative in the market today that because of IoT the world of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) will converge. OT will develop IT skills and support organizations. History tells us differently thanks to the principles learned from Cloud Computing. A cloud native approach to creating, deploying, securing and managing real-time edge apps leads to one inevitable situation – the consumerization if IT within Industry 4.0. IT will more likely become a commodity that is generic, secured, paid for as a service, and taken for granted by OT teams as they optimize for their core competency – business operations and associated apps.
Time and time again, cloud has commoditized IT and allowed business units to focus their efforts while managing IT costs in a predictable fashion.
- Sales operations was disrupted by Saleforce.com and other cloud services.
- Marketing automation by companies such as Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot, etc.
- Human Resources scales their operations through services like Workday.com.
In each of these examples, the business function defines the functionality required, chooses the “infrastructure” provider and rents the IT delivery as a service. Gartner has spent years predicting that CMO spending on IT infrastructure will exceed that of the CIO. Why is that? Because their operations run on services like Marketo and Saleforce.com not on in-house systems. Marketing did not have to merge with IT in order to provide large scale marketing automation systems. Sales operations did not have to merge with IT to provide global unified CRM. The IT infrastructure is pay-as-you-go consumable built with cloud infrastructure.
In Industry 4.0, ultimate buying decisions for many real-time apps are made by operations technology teams. Edge computing, the mechanism for delivering real-time apps, currently lacks the level of simplicity and inherent security required by the operations team (as networked systems are a new area of infrastructure for this audience). Fortunately, a model for that simplicity, security, and manageability exists in cloud computing and cloud services already.
The push to become “real-time businesses” that leverage edge computing has forced a reality that organizations are starting to realize is nearly insurmountable. Naturally the responsibility for innovating operations using technology falls to operations technology teams. However, “real-time businesses” require leveraging IoT devices, network connectivity, security, and app lifecycle management that typically resides in the IT department and is usually reserved for centralized datacenter apps. This causes 2 major impediments:
- The Operations Technology team does not have the IT expertise to implement “edge computing”.
- The Information Technology team does not have the operational understanding to build, test, and innovate new apps that will improve business.
With enterprises looking to develop, deploy and run apps at the edge to power a real-time business, significant complexity, highly fragmented vendor landscape and a lack of highly skilled IT engineers in OT to enable edge computing pose a barrier to success. And making matters worse, the same barriers are common for every sector or vertical that is looking to do edge computing, from energy, transportation, to manufacturing.