SCADA must rely on the Cloud to accomplish the Internet of Things.
Legacy SCADA systems are a cornucopia of varied protocols, operating systems, software versions and hardware capabilities. Few communicate seamlessly with each other. A lot of older ones barely talk to themselves. Over the years, they have gotten much better. However, successive modernization of technologies has yet to succeed in practical let alone perfect backward compatibility. SCADA systems grew in their own language equipped with their own hardware and communication protocols. SCADA databases robust enough to support a business case became isolated, purpose functioned systems that performed specific tasks. They now look like SILOS, functional but standing alone, communicating only with themselves.
SCADA engineers have spent most of their creative energy and resources perfecting reliable and consistent data acquisition methodologies. They remain often frustrated with the easily discernable potential of total enterprise integration as the operational and executive users of these futuristic systems remain unsure of what they want the systems to tell them.
Now we have conceptualized this nth generation of SCADA development with the moniker IOT. It’s the gold standard of vague expectations that assumes many legacy SCADA components, sub systems and networks can in fact deliver what they can only imagine. The company operators, managers and executives envision decision making supported by empirical data and facilitated by complex algorithmic manipulation all delivered seamlessly by the manifestation of modern SuperSCADA colloquially named IOT. It’s a vision with a vaguely defined purpose supported by a rickety patchwork of modern, new, recent, old, older and ancient parts.
There remains yeoman work to be done. Much has begun and a lot of it is readily available. There are two tasks at hand. The first is the staggering number of filtration, translation, or manipulation programs needed to read, collect, normalize and make available all that legacy SCADA source data. Every single disparate model, protocol, software program, format and version of SCADA will need a suitably capable program applied to the specifics of that device, on that site, in that system. On a practical and economic basis, this can ONLY be accomplished with the Cloud.
With the Cloud the requisite software magic can reside commonly, exist availably and be applied selectively. With the Cloud the nearly infinite variety of data sources can be gathered, normalized and stored – available for access and use by a similar number of HMI, analytical and presentation apps. Without it, the existing pandemonium that comprises the universe of available SCADA sources will only become more impossible to source the vision of IOT.
SCADA engineers seeking to provide the IOT with its source material can deliver everything through the Cloud. All that will be left to fulfill the ambitious dreams of IOT will be the executives, managers and operators deciding exactly what they to know and what type decisions they’ll make when they know it. The mechanism to accomplish the former is available NOW. The mind set and persistence to accomplish the latter, not so much.