OT-SDN: How Do I Get Started?

OT-SDN: How Do I Get Started?

Take control of your OT network with software defined networking

As the industrial sector continues to evolve, innovative OT solutions are top of mind for manufacturers. OT-SDN brings a practical approach to reducing cyber risk and increasing uptime across OT environments. By centralizing control, automating processes, and enhancing security, OT-SDN promises to enhance industrial communication and control networks.

As you join many business leaders in a quest to prepare your OT network for the future, you found software defined networking. While the benefits of OT-SDN on a manufacturing network are obvious, you can’t help but feel a tad overwhelmed. The concept, technology, and business value are clear, but the path forward may seem daunting.

Rest assured you aren’t alone in navigating the uncertainty that comes along with adopting new manufacturing processes. Following an OT-SDN demo, here are the top 5 most common conversations we have:

I have invested a lot of capital towards maintaining and upgrading my OT network infrastructure, do I have to start over with OT-SDN?

There’s no need to start over.  The most common implementation is into an existing network. The Veracity OT-SDN network is designed to work with both existing and new technologies. Even though an SDN network makes VLAN segmentation outdated, the Veracity OT Network Controller software will pass through VLAN addressing. There’s also a learning mode to automatically generate communication rules making startup simple. If you have an OpenFlow capable switch such, as the common Cisco Catalyst 9300, at the distribution level already simply place the switch into OpenFlow mode and the Veracity OT-SDN technology can be added to the virtualization stack. All traffic that flows through that switch is automatically segmented and gains the benefits of software defined networking. This deployment allows you to continue to leverage your current investments and upgrade over time following a planned approach.

I have too many switches, there is no way I can afford an OT-SDN project.

OT-SDN projects can be deployed in phases – in fact, most manufacturers choose this path. By identifying the most critical areas of your OT network, it’s relatively easy to integrate the Veracity OT Network Management platform into your existing network. OpenFlow compatible switches can be switched on or strategically placed switches can be upgraded.  As the network ages and switches are replaced, they can be upgraded to cost-effective OpenFlow-enabled switches to gain additional OT network control.

Which switches are compatible with OT-SDN?

There is a list of supported switches on the Veracity website.  Some very common switches support OpenFlow, including the Cisco Catalyst 9300. DYNICS, SEL, Allied Telesis also offer OpenFlow-enabled switches today.

How much will this cost?

Using OT-SDN will typically cost 50% less than a traditional network segmentation project.

How much time will it take?

OT-SDN increases the velocity of segmentation projects from 2-3 plants per year to 2-3 plants per month.

I don’t have a technical expert to support new OT software.

One of the great things about the Veracity OT-SDN solution is the “OT” piece. The software presents the network in a way that engineers on the plant floor understand. The technical team has taken the benefits of traditional SDN and added things necessary for the OT environment. The software understands almost 50 industrial communication protocols out of the box and can automatically identify assets such as PLCs, HMIs, and drives. For example, there is even a Purdue Model in the software, a familiar view for OT professionals.

The promise of enhanced efficiency, increased security, and the overall ability to take control of your OT network is here today. Despite concerns over investing resources and budget to new processes, the learning curve, and the risk factor associated with any change – the rewards of taking advantage of OT-SDN innovation are abundant. Acknowledging the concerns internally will enable organizations to face change head-on and result in a smoother transition.

To learn more, sign up for our next monthly OT-SDN demo.

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