This trends deep-dive report investigates strategic foresights and highlights the impact of ICS modernization programs on people, process, and technology for IT/OT leaders in utilities. Our goal is to guide you through the transformation journey by providing you practical insights and helping you overcome these challenges:
- Drivers of ICS modernization are not fully understood by IT and OT leaders.
- IT and OT leaders lack tactical insights to collaboratively plan and implement successful ICS modernization projects.
- It is more difficult to change people than to change process and technology when it comes to ICS modernization.
Utilities of the future require further advancement of automation. Modernizing your ICS is a crucial step forward in building the foundation for digital transformation. It is IT/OT leaders’ responsibility to plan and execute their organization's ICS modernization plan. Info-Tech’s insights can better prepare you to unleash the potential of advanced automation.
Impact and Result
- Perform a cost-benefit analysis to support ICS modernization technologies and applications.
- Optimize your plan from lessons learned prior to embarking on an ICS modernization roadmap and tactical implementation.
- Leverage the readiness checklist for IT/OT/business leaders to guide organizations about required changes in people, process, and technology.
Industrial Control System Modernization: Unlock the Value of Automation in Utilities
Prepare for the future to stay relevant in utility digital transformation.
For over four decades at the center of the operations within utilities, industrial control system (ICS) has been hiding behind the curtain. Without drawing much attention, it has been slowly but surely moving the automation of utility operations forward.
With the advent of Industry 4.0, IIoT, digital twin, and other industrial digital trends, ICS has now gained center stage for every industry modernization roadmap. As a result, IT, OT and business leaders must now face the insufficiencies and obsolete practices that previously had gone unnoticed and used to be less problematic. The good news is that technology advancements and the need for business digitalization present the greatest opportunities for ICS to transform and to stay relevant.
Info-Tech's industry research on ICS modernization explores cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of ICS modernization programs. Combining the lessons learned from previous projects and perspectives from industry practitioners and technology vendors, this report assists IT/OT leaders to optimize and de-risk any future ICS modernization projects. This report provides you with a practical readiness checklist to guide your team and the business throughout the journey.
Principal Research Director,
Info-Tech Research Group
- Drivers of ICS modernization are not fully understood by IT and OT leaders.
- IT and OT leaders lack tactical insights to collaboratively plan and implement successful ICS modernization projects.
- People are more difficult to change than changing process and technology when it comes to ICS modernization.
- ICS modernization projects are often costly and difficult to rationalize.
- Executives often underestimate the IT involvement needed to support the ICS modernization program.
- Change management implementation is often overlooked, causing unnecessary doubts among IT/OT/business teams.
- Perform a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to support ICS modernization technologies and applications.
- Optimize your plan from lessons learned prior to embarking on an ICS modernization road map and tactical implementation.
- Leverage the readiness checklist for IT/OT/business leaders to guide organizations in required changes in people, process, and technology.
Utilities of the future require further advancement of automation. Modernizing your ICS is a crucial step forward in building the foundation for digital transformation. It is IT/OT leaders' responsibility to plan and execute your ICS modernization plan. Info-Tech's insights can better prepare you to unleash the potential of advanced automation.
Demystify the nomenclature of ICS
The nomenclature and technical specificities can make operational technology (OT) difficult to understand. Within utilities, OT encompasses computing systems that are used to manage operations controlling equipment, instrumentation, assets, processes, and events.
Industrial control systems (ICS) are typically used in utility mission critical control sectors,
which includes supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCS), and other control system configurations such as programmable logic controllers (PLC).
The lines between SCADA, DCS, and PLC at times are blurred, depending on the actual implementation of ICS for each utility sector. Factors such as control timing requirements, geographic distribution, control complexity, and others can influence the design of the ICS.
- SCADA is often exclusively used in utilities covering long distance operations such as electricity transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution, and water distribution.
- DCS, highly integrated with the physical equipment, is often used in large power generation sites due to its reliable and high-speed local area network to handle large quantity input/output (I/O) processing.
In the context of this research, "ICS" is used to cover both components used generically across all utility sectors and those unique to one to one sector.
Sources: NIST, 2015; YOKOGAWA, 2018; University of Skövde, 2020; Automation Forum, 2022; Securicon, 2019.
ICS has been supporting the core operations in utilities as the unsung hero
ICS, equally important as information technologies (IT), has been widely used across utilities to make operation automation possible. Through various communication systems, data and command are exchanged between the centralized control center and the equipment or instrument within plants or remote field sites. Here are many examples that ICS automation supports core operations in utilities.
Industrial control system (ICS)
Evolution of SCADA modernization in utilities
|Evolution of SCADA modernization in utilities||
Second Generation: Distributed
Third Generation: Network
Fourth Generation: IIoT
Sources: Process Solutions, 2020; Mader Electric, 2021.
Top drivers for ICS modernization
Shrinking pool of talent
Growing complexity of systems
Industrial 4.0/IIoT challenges status quo
Digital utility drives change
Stricter regulation and compliance
Concerning security and safety
Aging infrastructure threatens reliability
Sources: WWD, 2020; HDR, 2021.
Build an ICS modernization strategy to enable your business to transform
Build your business case
- Identify the drivers to align with your organizational vision.
- Build your case leveraging a cost-benefit analysis.
Execute your plan tactically
- Refine your project plan from lessons learned.
- Prepare your project by validating a readiness checklist of people, process, and technology.
Enhance key technology areas
- Evaluate and enable ICS modernization technology top focus areas.
- Couple technology investment with business capability enhancement.
Technology offerings in the modernization era
Technology offers the art of possible when it comes to ICS modernization. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the broad range of options. Identify tactical enablements to focus on now and plan strategic capabilities for the future.
Source: Inductive Automation, 2022.
SCADA investment is gaining momentum worldwide
The global SCADA market reached US$35 billion in 2021
Utilities segment CAGR (2022-2030) 10% accelerating
Sources: Statista; Global Market Insights, 2021.
- Top 3 SCADA markets in the US in 2026 by industry: Oil & Gas, Utilities, and Manufacturing.
- Smart grid infrastructure pushing the scope of SCADA deployment.
- Market leaders such as ABB Ltd., Schneider Electric SE, and Siemens AG are developing new SCADA production with enhanced capabilities.
Source: Global Market Insights, 2021.
Worldwide market size of SCADA in 2020 by segment
Source: J'son & Partners, 2021.
Balance risk with rewards of modernization
- Improve service reliability through continuous and real-time operation.
- Enhance efficiency through operations visibility and transparency.
- Optimize planning through data analytics beyond time series data and operational alarms.
- Support digital utility strategy as the core enablement for any advanced technology deployment.
- Cost savings and energy efficiency to automate operations of complex and large equipment and instrumentations.
- Knowledge transfer to the future generations through digital automation.
- Improve safety of the staff by equipping with system operational data.
- Increase staff engagement through technology advancement.
- Complex systems with many components to implement and manage.
- Requires skilled workers such as operators, engineers, and field workers.
- Higher risks of cyberattacks due to increased number of attack surfaces and devices that require additional effort, time, and funding to secure the system.
- Requires diligent change management including enforcing stricter processes and procedures.
Determine the risks of not modernizing and plan your long-term goals
Modernize your ICS with proactive planning instead of being surprised by reactive actions. The use cases of the ICS modernizations could vary for each organization. IT/OT leaders must start asking the following key questions to determine your risks of not heading down the modernization path.
- Is it safe to operate and what are the service reliability metrics ?
- Is the cost of maintaining the existing system sustainable?
- What are the key features missing from the existing system?
- Can you operate in compliance with current and future regulations?
- Do you get quality support from the vendor?
- Do you have a sufficient pool of resources internally and externally to support the existing system?
Source: Control Engineering, 2022.
The business case benefits must align with your long-term vision, and are driven by your organizational objectives. Tackle the plan holistically instead of piecemeal to modernizing and optimizing. An overall long-term strategy is often expected, and it is crucial to highlight how ICS modernization will help meet the overall objectives.
Develop a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis
An ICS modernization project is often part of a large utility digitalization program that consists of many components. The multiyear program involves implementing new systems or upgrading complex existing systems. Their interdependencies and interactive effects make it difficult to justify updating any one of them separately. In addition, not all benefits can be easily quantified, such as contributing to the net-zero pathways for utilities. The following example of a benefit and cost metrics can help build out your CBA and navigate for supporting the justification of your business case. Depending on the financial treatment, capital and operational expenses could shift if the cloud system is chosen. Both monetized and unmonetized benefits should be presented, including utility, customer, and society benefits.
|Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings||
|Improve Reliability and Resilience||
|Energy and Capacity Savings||
Optimize energy usage of operation to reduce overall operating cost and contribution to organizational net-zero targets.
|Customers and Society Benefits||
Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2021.
|Equipment and Infrastructure||
|Software and Commission||
|Support and Resources||
Info-Tech Resource: Reduce Time to Consensus With an Accelerated Business Case
Automation maturity to business capability alignment
Technology investment has to enhance business capabilities. ICS modernization investment is no exception. It is imperative for IT/OT leaders to draw the links between complex technical nomenclatures to the easy-to-understand business terms. Illustration of business capability gaps can help facilitate the conversation between technical practitioners and business stakeholders
Leverage a maturity model and your business capability map to highlight the gaps in order to achieve a desired business outcome. Most importantly, a maturity-level assessment including business, application, data, and technology can help prioritize your initiatives.
- Locate/Remote Manual Control
- Digital controller, centralized HMI via network
- Automated Control
- Closed-loop control fully automated
- Boost Operations
- remote access,
- business reporting,
- system performance monitoring and notification
- Business system integration including SCADA, CMMS, modelling tool, GIS, etc.
- Optimization simulation,
- AI-powered data analytics
Automation increases by developing outer layers from the core layer.
Adapted from Westin Automation Maturity Model, WEFTEC, 2018.
Info-Tech Utility Business Capability Heat Map for illustration purpose only.
Pitfalls to avoid when planning your project
- No resources lineups
Resources planning is critical. It is not just about project resources but also operational support resources and post-implementation vendor technical support.
- No team collaboration
Regardless of the IT/OT organizational structure, not getting the right team from both IT and OT involved can lead to costly regrets. For example, without the security team and network subject matter experts' review, you might encounter security and network configuration blockers during implementation.
- Security as an afterthought
Without selecting a security-by-design solution, your investment will be compromised and risk not being compliant with growing stricter regulations.
- Overlook change management effort
Major modernization projects require dedicated effort to execute a change management plan including communication, process documentation, and training.
- Not having a master plan
A common mistake preventing project success is not allocating sufficient time for planning and design. Without a well researched master plan of a phased approach, you might be setting yourself up for failure.
- Assume a perfect-fit solution
Most vendor products will provide you with standard functionalities that have some flexibility of configuration. Customizations are required to fit your specific needs at times. Decide on the trade-offs and do not assume a perfect-fit solution.
The Harriman Utility Board (HUB), providing electric, gas, water, and sewer services for the city of Harriman, Tennessee, and nearby areas.
INDUSTRY: Water Utilities – Small and Rural
SOURCE: "Cloud SCADA Solves Big Problems for Smaller Utilities," Water and Wastes Digest, 2018
A small rural utility faced some unique challenges in serving 4,800 water customers and over 200 miles of water pipe:
- Large and spread-out geographic areas.
- Merger and acquisition inherited patchwork of technologies.
- Limited and costly communication network to keep the line-of-sight.
- Aging equipment failure without available repair parts.
- Data not available to field workers.
HUB started with a demonstration project to monitor and control a remote booster pump station by using a small cloud SCADA system. After careful review of the demo and other options, HUB decided to rollout the cloud SCADA solution across the entire system.
After three months, the deployment was completed with a system consisting of GSM, CDMA cellular network, Ethernet, and others. No base station or other infrastructure was required from any remote station connecting to the cloud SCADA system.
The cloud SCADA solution enabled HUB to monitor and control 28 remote sites more efficiently and reliably.
With alerts and notifications to detect leaks faster and more accurately, HUB reduced water loss by 10%. Data was available to the right personnel from anywhere at anytime reducing overtime costs and unnecessary traveling overheads.
Cloud SCADA helped a smaller utility to afford a modern SCADA solution without internal expertise and a large budget.
Municipal Electric Utility, providing electricity services for the city of Seguin, Texas.
INDUSTRY: Electric Utilities – Small and Urban
SOURCE: "Complete Automation Overhaul Benefits Smaller Utilities," AltEnergyMag, 2022
A small electric utility serving about 8,200 residential customers and a few large industrial facilities was going through a major and complex modernization and integration program:
- Citywide Wi-Fi rollout
- Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployment
- GIS mapping execution
- Energy efficiency software implementation
- A new SCADA system rollout and integration with an OMS
The utility partnered with an experienced system implementer for the entire program. A web-based SCADA solution was implemented to enable:
- Connection with any equipment supporting their native protocols.
- Preconfigured templates using open-source web technologies.
- Decentralized installation of the software to reduce cost.
- Integration with OMS to provide real-time alerts geographically.
- Upgrade of relays to collect more data.
The web-based SCADA solution enabled the city of Seguin to diagnose issues remotely, respond to service disruptions faster, and reduce the outage time for customers. In addition, more events such as voltage levels were captured to help troubleshoot customer Complaints and adjust the voltage regulators remotely.
The modern web-based SCADA solution has set up the infrastructure to allow future integration of automation equipment such as automated switching.
Power Generation Plant, DTE Calvert City (DTECC), Kentucky.
INDUSTRY: Electric Utilities – Generation
SOURCE: "Case study: DCS Migration Challenges and Obstacles for Process Manufacturer," Control Engineering, 2019
DTECC had been using a 15-year-old DCS to support its around-the-clock utility service operations, including a gas turbine power generation facility. Due to lack of support of the HMI and hardware, a decision was made to upgrade to a modern solution. Even with careful planning, the upgrade encountered several challenges:
- Upgrade effort and disruption to a 24/7 operation.
- Technology compatibility issues between legacy and new solutions.
DTECC partnered with a system integrator (SI) and the product vendor for the upgrade project. A trusted partnership was established from the planning phase in which key issues were discussed, options were analyzed, and contingency planning was put in place.
To minimize the risk and reduce outage time, the implementation plan included:
- Electronic marshaling with digital mapping instead of manual field wiring.
- Bulk engineering and standard code replacing initially manually created logic.
A modern and well-supported system was implemented to support the operation with any future expansion of the organization. Upgrades of legacy systems often encountered unexpected issues despite the thoughtful planning.
During the deployment, experienced professionals with situational problem-solving skills were vital to complete the upgrade on time. Post-implementation and continued support and improvements from the SI were important to the long-term stability of the system.
EPCOR Utilities Inc., providing electricity, natural gas, and water services in Canada and the United States.
INDUSTRY: Integrated Utilities
SOURCE: Interview with Gabriela Moise (IT), Mark Brosseau (OT), and Ming Franks (Business), EPCOR Utilities Inc., Oct 2022
As part of the EPCOR's stormwater integrated resource plan (SIRP) long-term strategy, one of the projects was to implement a SIRP operational dashboard to increase situational awareness to proactively reduce flooding.
The project team faced a number of challenges:
- Data was siloed in multiple systems including SCADA and many business applications.
- Data was not easily accessible to help make business decisions in a timely manner.
The project team delivered a geospatial analytical operational dashboard that leveraged PI to integrate data from SCADA, Esri GIS, and other systems. The implementation of PI required tight collaboration between OT/SCADA, business, and IT teams.
- The OT/SCADA team brought expert knowledge of the sensor data.
- The business team contributed with the business meaning and value of the data.
- The IT team implemented the integration of all data sources around PI.
The SIRP operational dashboard successfully met its business objective and demonstrated the value of advanced data analytics. Business users could access the dashboard through any web browsers to monitor real-time data, review historical data, and export data for further analysis and reporting.
Throughout the project, EPCOR OT/SCADA and IT teams overcame several obstacles and learned to work collaboratively. Ongoing support of the dashboard also further integrated two teams.
Develop talent and foster collaboration to support modernization
Automation Federation and Department of Labor collaboratively developed a competency model specific to the automation profession.
Competency Model Clearinghouse, license, 2019; courtesy United States Department of Labor.
Collaboration between cross-functional experts is mandatory to the success of your ICS modernization project, regardless of your organizational structure.
There are more common competencies between IT and OT professions than differences, despite different priorities and educational backgrounds. For instance, in the area of infrastructure (5.4) and cybersecurity (5.6), many organizations have similar resources working on two parallel systems that have a lot in common. Collaboration between two teams can certainly benefit the organization, especially with the challenge of a labor shortage.
Developing a competency-based talent program for utilities is key to growing the talent pool. With the aging workforce, utilities need to establish succession plans across different levels of professionals. Systems become more complex than ever to support and maintain. Competency-based development can make sure future talent have versatile skill sets to support future automation capabilities.
A change management plan is key to cultivating an open mind
Collaboration between IT/OT could be the biggest challenge in your ICS modernization plan. Despite the trend of IT/OT convergence across many industries, most utilities are not ready yet for organizational structural change. Often seen as having conflicting objectives, in reality IT and OT teams share common interests to protect and enable the core business.
Having a change management plan with dedicated resource support is vital to develop an open mind across various levels of management, professionals, and field staff. Senior leadership support to foster collaborative culture and share joint responsibility can accelerate the change. A governance committee group can help enforce the joint responsibility even if two teams are not combined organizationally.
50%: Percentage of 39 North American utilities that have concrete plans for IT/OT convergence, according to a poll conducted by McDonnell Group, on behalf of Ventyx (TCS, 2016).
46%: Percentage of surveyed utilities that have dedicated change management staff, compared to 76% of overall respondents (Prosci, 2016).
"People are the most difficult challenge to overcome where process and technology can be sorted out. Having the right mindset and attitude is to embrace new technology and adapt to new processes."
– Malcolm Bailie, Nozomi Networks
"Process and technology are relatively easy compared to people. Changing the way people work is hard."
– Gabriela Moise, EPCOR Utilities
Readiness checklist to start building your talent pool
Like the implementation of any modernization technologies and application, the cost, time, and effort required to develop the right talent are substantial.
Utilities are often surprised by the level of gaps during projects and find themselves scrambling to shuffle to make do with already lean teams. The following checklist is to help you be better prepared for the journey.
Build a competency-based talent development plan
- Collaborate between IT and OT managers, HR, and union if applicable to conduct a needs/competency review against the future technology team.
- Develop succession plans at all levels, including professionals and field staff, to prepare for the employee turnover due to aging workforce and competitive market.
Develop a change management plan
- Secure sponsorship from the senior leadership team to engage employees at all levels for this plan.
- Set up a governance structure to foster a joint accountability and promote across-functional collaboration.
Diversify talent development plan
- Leverage expertise from vendor and system integrator as a professional development opportunity for staff.
- Offer versatile training methods for different types of learners to ensure operational consistency and safety.
- Diversify sources of talent recruitment and development. For example, provide cross-training opportunities for both IT and OT teams. Support recruitment diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Increase adoptions of cross-discipline processes
The growing similarities between the underlying technologies increases the adoption of IT operational processes to OT operations. Rankings of priorities among availability, integrity, confidentiality, and safety are still different between IT and OT systems in utilities. However, OT teams and IT teams can both benefit from enforcing some of the well-established cross-discipline processes.
To increase supportability and reliability, standardization of ICS ecosystem is important. Standard software, configuration, security, and even devices can help with reduced errors, faster deployment, and ease of maintenance. It also helps with compliance and interoperability and in reducing shadow IT/OT.
Regular updates to install the latest available features improve reliability and stability. It can also avoid hidden cost to maintain obsolete and unsecured systems.
Plan for more frequent upgrades of various components within the modernized ecosystem.
Operation consistency is often overlooked at the risk of reliability. Identifying operation process owners with periodic reviews can improve operational efficiency. Operational data analytics can also reinforce processes consistency.
Once processes are well-established and consistently executed, certain operations could be automated, limiting the need for documented processes and reliance on experienced staff.
Elevate process optimization from the micro level to the macro level
Many organizations take the opportunity to review existing OT processes and identify areas for optimization on the micro-level, as part of the ICS modernization project.
Here are some examples of standardization:
- System-wide universal tagging standard and naming convention.
- Control panel parts, layouts, and field-wiring designs.
- Server and network equipment specifications.
- PLC hardware configuration and coding standards.
- HMI application standards with code templates.
- Alarm messages, screens, and procedures.
Sources: ISA, 2011; Control Engineering, 2021.
Modernization demands a process review on a broader macro level across the overall OT practices. Compared to IT, historically, OT lacks a standardized management and governance framework. Instead of reinventing the wheel, one approach is to leverage a comprehensive existing research of the core IT processes and adapt them into the OT practices.
Readiness checklist to start redesigning your core processes
Due to the interdependencies of systems and teams introduced by complex ICS technologies, siloed processes become detrimental to the effectiveness and efficiency of the grid operations. Process engineering must be iterative during and after the project implementation to reach its maturity level.
Assess process and accountability gap
- Conduct a maturity assessment of key processes and highlight gaps that are focusing on operation reliability and risk resilience.
- Document process RACI across key areas with the acknowledgement from IT, OT, and business stakeholders when it comes to data ownership and cybersecurity.
Improve key areas
- Investing in time and effort for a holistic master plan and design analysis will pay off and avoid costly mistakes or regrets.
- Develop ICS standards documents to guide how ICS/SCAD should be implemented, operated, and supported.
- Execute process integration by developing a shared vision among IT and OT security leaders to foster a culture of mutual understanding.
Adopt a macro-level approach
- Collaborate with cross-functional teams to remove operational silos and assess process improvement comprehensively.
- Adopt a journey mapping methodology to identify opportunities and measured metrics to gain efficiency.
- Define ongoing review cadence to ensure the maintenance of policies, procedures, and processes.
Modernization increases technology complexity and creates challenges
The basic operation of an ICS is well established, but the actual implementation can be very complex. Over the years, technology advancement helped reshape how automation is done within the utility industry. Along with new capabilities, the overall complexity of the system has grown with many added layers of equipment, protocols, and standards.
With more components to maintain in the ecosystem, the lifecycle cost of support also grows. On top of that, utility business portfolios change over time via mergers and acquisitions and so does the diversity of automation technologies. Security and interoperability are among the top challenges to overcome.
An example of a high-level architecture of an electric utility's control system and its interaction with IT and business systems.
Security Guidelines for the Electricity Sector, Courtesy NERC.
Choose technology and implementation partner wisely
Selecting the right technology and implementation partner can save a lot of headaches for many years to come. ICS projects are often costly, time consuming, and high risk. Once selected, technology vendors become long-term partners with the utility. It is worth the effort to carefully select your partner. The following tips shared from the industry practitioners and experts can hopefully spare you some costly mistakes.
Half the battle is having the right people.
- Ensure experienced experts are on the team even if resources are more expensive.
- Confirm availability of local vendor support and resources pool.
Tap into early learnings.
- Attend industry conferences to learn detailed insights.
- Connect with peers, check references, and visit sites to learn from others.
- Conduct a pilot project with lessons learned feeding into a large program.
Manage the core and plan for future.
- Ensure the vendor product is capable of open standards, interoperability, backwards compatibility, and composability.
- Establish principles of standard feature sets, innovative needs, and customizations.
- Ask about the vendor's roadmap for future support and future product releases.
- Ensure the license model meets your capacity now but can also accommodate future growth.
"The main issue for any large deployment is the field work aspect. For instance, legacy devices often do not have backwards compatibility."
– Mirek Januszek, Sydney Water
Vendor landscapes of software features
Key players within the industry offer a competitive edge over each other and common themes can be found among them as signs of where SCADA technology advancement is headed. Mergers and acquisitions happen among competitors and the interoperability and supportability could be a challenge as a result.
Not an exhaustive list
Now part of Schneider Electric
Browser-based graphics builder and web control deployable -
Ability to embed industrial graphics directly in runtime client
Build-in programmable APIs to enable extensions of configurations - integrated mapping for geospatial analysis
Rapid application development tools support OPC UA auto-discovery - HTML5 compliant and support responsive design
Rapid application development tools support OPC UA auto-discovery - HTML5 compliant and support responsive design
Rapid application development tools support OPC UA auto-discovery - HTML5 compliant and support responsive design
AVEVA development studio cloud application allows hybrid integration - AVEVA Data Hub cloud-native platform
EcoStruxure ADMS (including SCADA) on Azure
Hybrid Azure/AWS cloud support
Cloud-based totally integrated automation (TIA) portal compliments on-premises SCADA
SaaS Model - ability to integrate with on-premises SCADA and third-party solutions.
System platform allows IIoT integrations via AVEVA Edge
Device connectivity framework leveraging Azure IoT technology
MQTT5 client integration data from smart IoT sensors/devices into SCADA
WinCC Unified Apps for Industrial Edge
Support any HTML5-compliant web browser on any device - library of apps available
HTML5 browser-independent web and mobile clients
Web-based configuration hub and web-based database management
HTML5 supported WinCC Unified System;
WinCC Open Architecture UI app
HTML web-based client and configuration interfaces
Vision AI assistant for visual anomaly detection - Ability to embed any HTML5-based interactive webpage
External analytics software integration - alarm annunciation for SMS, email, and voice via external systems
Enable analytics through SCADA data and Python libraries; Proficy CSense AI/ML data analytics
SCADA and industry PCs package solution
Integrated gas operations suite for pipelines and features
EcoStruxure Geo SCADA (ClearSCADA); EcoStruxure ADMS (Grid Operations, Generation Management Module)
Experion HS (targeted for small to medium automation projects)
Note: Information based on secondary research to demonstrate feature trends. Contact vendor for full list of available features per SCADA product.
Readiness checklist to deploy modular technologies
ICS modernization projects are often part of a bigger program such as a smart grid roadmap for electric utilities. As a result, there are interdependencies of technologies across many layers of security fences both inside and outside the perimeters of organizations. IT and OT leaders should keep the big picture in mind when designing and implementing ICS solutions to enable modular advancements for the risk-averse utility sector.
Assess integration, data, and cybersecurity gap
- Conduct a maturity assessment of integration and data management capabilities.
- Conduct security maturity assessment for both IT and OT domains.
Address urgent needs
- Prioritize data readiness and quality improvement to avoid it becoming roadblocks for project implementation.
- Build a risk-based cybersecurity
- program leveraging built-in capabilities within ICS solutions.
- Develop a plan for compatibility challenges of legacy components ahead of time to avoid surprises during the project.
Plan for lifecycle management
- Develop an ICS modernization program budget that considers the increased cadence of technology upgrades.
- Establish continuous partnership with vendor and SI for ongoing support and proactive planning for future upgrades.
- Coordinate technology roadmap between IT, OT, and the business to ensure interdependencies and consistency are deliberated.
Technology cornerstones empower utilities for the future
The modernization program never ends with one upgrade or one new implementation. It is a continuous journey that requires collaboration with multidisciplinary experts as well as keeping an open mind to manage the present and prepare for the future. None of the following technology trends are groundbreaking, and many organizations already have plans or are in the process of implementing them depending on the industry and the maturity level of their organization. This report intends to shed some lights on the unique perspectives in the utility industry for these technologies.
|Cybersecurity||Cloud Adoption||Data Analytics|
Create a holistic security culture
To safeguard the core business, ICS modernization projects can no longer be done by OT team alone in isolation.
The interconnection between IT and OT networks, introduction of IIoT integration, and pandemic demand a joint effort between both IT and OT teams to collaborate closely.
The pandemic's impact on IT/OT convergence among manufacturing, energy and utilities, healthcare, and transportation organizations:
|Accelerated convergence||No change||Delayed convergence|
Source: "2021 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report," Fortinet, 2021
To overcome the challenges to secure ICS, IT and OT teams must work together to create a holistic security culture. Integration between legacy OT environments with modern security technologies can benefit from the expertise of both domains.
Biggest OT challenges organizations in energy, IT, and other sectors face in securing OT technologies and processes:
Technical integration of legacy and aging OT technology with modern IT systems.
Insufficient labor resources to implement existing security plans.
IT staff does not understand OT operational requirements.
Traditional IT security technologies are too complex to implement and maintain in an OT environment.
Source: Nozomi Networks, 2021
Increase cloud adoption to improve operational outcomes
Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud technology to leverage its benefits. Organizations that are migrating ICS systems to an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) system are mainly looking for the following operational outcomes (Journal of Cloud Computing, 2017):
System Redundancy Support
Compliance with utility regulations and standards is key to mitigate risks of cloud solutions. Utilities are the top industries most at risk of ICS threat, and external remote services are the number one risk involved in the initial attack vectors in OT/ICS incidents (Nozomi Networks, 2021). Mapping industry-specific standards and frameworks to cloud vendor security maturity level is the crucial initial step for cloud adoption within the utility sector. The following standards and regulations are popular for utilities to manage compliance obligations: NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF), IEC/ISA 62443 Security for industrial automation and control systems, North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP), IEC 61850 communication networks and systems for power utility automation, Australian Energy Sector Cyber Security Framework (AESCSF), Australia Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (SOCI Act), and EU-wide cybersecurity legislation (NIS Directive).
Business insights beyond ICS operations
Broaden the use of ICS data into your data management layer to make better business decisions. For example, underground water pipes or electric cable replacement can be very costly. SCADA data such as hours of operations or number of operations paired with CMMS data can drive better insights into the failure rate of assets to assist in preventative and predictive maintenance programs.
Bad data leads to bad decisions. Advanced data analytics have made promising benefits across both IT and OT domains. Similarly, data quality remains a major challenge to overcome in the OT domain. ICS automation relies on quality data.
- Operation and compliance reporting such as daily energy usage and water quality report.
- Alerts and drill downs such as gas pressure, senor alarms, and potential root causes analysis.
- Statistical and trending analysis such as overhead line failure rate based on historical data and forecast of likely failure of line segments if current trends continue.
- Predictive and prescriptive analysis such as hydraulic modelling of water pressure levels and apply what-if alternative analysis to compare scenarios to recommend optimal actions.
- Integration and optimization analysis such as enterprise-wide utility operation risk dashboard to make data-driven decisions to safeguard its critical operations. Organizations can tap into ICS data for building a sustainable future.
Outlook for IT/OT leaders
Digital (IT/OT) Team Convergence
Regulation Alignment and Influence
It is a daunting task for IT/OT leaders to follow a clear vision and develop an effective ICS modernization strategy, facing both internal and external pressure with competing priorities.
Collaboration is key. You are not alone in tackling this complex challenge. Utilities across the globe are working toward the future of adaptable utilities.
Changes are inevitable. IT/OT leaders need to be prepared.
Transformation needs a purpose and a plan. Leveraging best practices and research insights can help optimize the opportunities and minimize any risks along the way.
It is important for IT/OT leaders to form a circle of alliances throughout the journey beyond tactical technical readiness made available in this research.
Use this ICS modernization report as an input to different blueprints
Unlock the value of automation in utilities
This can be used as a stand-alone report or an input to digital strategy, IT strategy, reference architecture, and more.
Prioritize Capability Gaps
Innovate the Business
Strategic Initiative Plan
Key IT Element
Section Head – Renewal Generation OT Cyber Security, Ontario Power Generation
Fourteen years' experience dedicated to NERC CIP compliance and OT cybersecurity in Power Generation. Eleven years for a major computer corporation in technical services (IBM). Three years technical services in control systems in the paper making industry.
Senior Manager, Solution Delivery and Projects (APAC) for Nozomi Networks
Based in Sydney, Australia.
Over 25+ years practical experience in OT/SCADA:
- Designing and deploying cybersecurity solutions for OT/IoT.
- Consulting and assessing control systems.
- Managing large-scale critical infrastructure.
- Designing, deploying, and maintaining control systems.
Control Systems Manager, Sydney Water
Mirek is responsible for operations, innovation, development, and implementation of strategies, standards, configuration for plant SCADA and telemetry (distributed SCADA) systems and for providing ongoing support and expert technical advice on design, implementation, operation, and maintenance of Sydney Water's SCADA systems.
Mirek's areas of expertise are SCADA and telemetry business intelligence solutions; SCADA security in line with best practice for National Critical Infrastructure; Strategy and Asset Planning; and SCADA standards, procedures, and quality management.
Prior to Sydney Water, Mirek has 14 years local and international consulting experience managing and delivering large SCADA system implementations.
Mirek holds an MBA in Leadership and the Master of Electronic Engineering.
Senior Manager, Planning and ARCHITECTURE, EPCOR UTILITIES INC.
Senior Manager, PLANT Control and Automation, EPCOR UTILITIES INC.
Senior Manager, data strategies, EPCOR UTILITIES INC.
Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group
AVEVA. Accessed Oct 2022.
GE Digital. Accessed Oct 2022.
Honeywell. Accessed Oct 2022.
Peltek. Accessed Oct 2022.
Schneider Electric. Accessed Oct 2022.
Siemens. Accessed Oct 2022.
VTScada. Accessed Oct 2022.
"2021 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report" Fortinet, 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"3 Trending Changes for the Utilities Industry." Prosci, n.d. Accessed Oct 2022.
"A Brief History of the SCADA System." Process Solutions, Jul 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
"A New Model for SCADA and Measurement Hosts." ENTELEC Conference, Jan 2014. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Analytics Value Curve." Utility Analytics, 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Applications of SCADA In the Natural Gas Sector." Hide Tide Technologies, May 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Are utilities doing enough to protect themselves from cyberattacks?" World Economic Forum, Jan 2020. Accessed Oct 2022
"Automation Competency Model." Flow Control, July 2014. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Building the Smart Utility through IT OT integration." TCS, 2016. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Case study: DCS migration challenges and obstacles for process manufacturer." Control Engineering, Jan 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Comparison between PLC, DCS, and SCADA." Automation Forum, Jan 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Competency Models - communicating industry's education and training needs." Competency Model Clearinghouse, Oct 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Complete Automation Overhaul Benefits Smaller Utilities." AltEnergyMag, Aug 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Converged Industrial Edge for Utilities Architecture for Communications Modernization." Juniper Networks, 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Control System Selection Key Criteria DCS, PLC, SCADA and Future Technologies." YOKOGAWA, 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Critical infrastructure and cybersecurity." European Commission, n.d. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Cyber Safety - Critical Infrastructure Systems: Toronto Water SCADA System." City of Toronto, Jan 2020. Accessed Oct 2022
"Distributed Control Systems Market - Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022-2027)." Mordor Intelligence, 2021. Accessed Oct 2022
"IIoT Industrial Platform." Cirrus Link Solutions. Accessed Oct 2022
"Industrial Control Systems: The Four Generations of SCADA Architectures." Mader Electric, Oct 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Is Internet of Things going to replace SCADA systems?" IIoT World, July 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Lesson Learned Loss of SCADA Operating and Monitoring Ability." NERC, May 2017. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Modernization of Instrumentation and control in nuclear power plants." International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), May 1998. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Must-Have SCADA Features for the Modern Era." Inductive Automation, Jan 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Net-zero by 2050-A roadmap for the Global Energy Sector." IEA, Oct 2021. Accessed Jun 2022.
"Plant instrumentation and controls: Issues and drivers." Control Engineering, Sept 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA 101: What is SCADA?" Sensus a Xylem Brand, April 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA Market by Offering." Markets and Markets, March 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA Market Size to Hit Around USD 61.22 Billion by 2030." Precedence Research, Jan 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA Market Size." Fortune Business Insights, 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA Market Size." Global Market Insights (GMI), Jan 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA Market." Global Market Insights (GMI), Oct 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"SCADA network modernization and implementation services." Perspecta Labs, 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Security Guidelines for the Electricity Sector." North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), n.d. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Size of the global supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) market between 2019 and 2026." Statista; Global Market Insights, March 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Size of the global supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) market in 2020, by segment." J'son & Partners via Statista, Dec 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"The forces reshaping tomorrow's distributed control system." Control Global, Oct 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
"Top 10 companies in SCADA Market." Meticulous Blog, Oct 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
"What's the Difference Between OT, ICS, SCADA and DCS?" Securicon Information Security Solutions, May 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
Alicia Millinger, "The Modernization of SCADA and HMI." Water & Wastes Digest (WWD), July 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
Billy Fox, "Master Planning: The First Step to a Robus SCADA System." HDR, June 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Charles M. Burt and Xianshu Piao, "Lessons from Successful SCADA and Automation Projects." Irrigation Association, 2005. Accessed Oct 2022.
Charles W. Newton, "SCADA Systems for Renewable Energy, ADMS for Utilities, List of different SCADA vendors in Solar, Wind and General space." T&D World, June 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Chris Grove, "Surprising Findings in the SANS 2021 OT/ICS Cybersecurity Survey." Automation, Sept 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
David Greenfield, "Will SCADA Remain Relevant as Industry Advances?" Automation World, 7 Sept 2017. Accessed Oct 2022.
David Mundie, "Cloud SCADA Solves Big Problems for Small Utilities." Water and Wastes Digest (W&WD), Aug 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
Dean Ford, "SCADA is DEAD: Rethink Your Approach to Automation." Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation's Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), Sept 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
Del Rodillas, Mikhail Falkovich, "Industrial Control System (ICS) and SCADA: Risks and Solutions." United States Energy Association (USEA), Oct 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
Erik Brandstaedter, Jeff Prickett, "Lessons learned from a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art distribution automation system upgrade project at California State University Fresno." IEEE, Sept 2016. Accessed Oct 2022.
Giselle Villar and Francisco Alcala, "Developing a SCADA master plan framework." Control Engineering, Apr 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Graham Nasby, Mathew Phillips, "City of Guelph's use case to emphasize the importance of standardization." ISA Interchange, Jun 2011. Accessed Oct 2022.
Graham Williamson, "OT, ICS, SCADA - What's the difference?" Kuppingercoie Analysts, July 2015. Accessed Oct 2022.
James Formea, John Gadbury, ""Improve power reliability through small-scale SCADA systems."" EATON, 2016. Accessed Oct 2022.
Jason D. Christopher, "Industrial Cyber Risk Management." Dragos, March 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Jennifer Nyquist, "Operational Technology definition and differentiation in the context of operational systems in Sweden." University of Skövde, June 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
Jim Meyers, "Utilities Improve Flexibility & Reduce Costs with New SCADA Systems." Water & Wastes Digest (WWD), May 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
Kate Wood, "Are Your Industrial Control Systems Safe from Ransomware?" Info-Tech Research Group, June 2018. Accessed Oct 2022.
Keith Stouffer, et al., "Guide to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security - NIST Special Publication 800-82 Revision 2." National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), May 2015. Accessed Oct 2022.
Khusro Khan, "Energy sector drives SCADA market." Embedded Computing Design, April 2017. Accessed Oct 2022
Lukasz Goralczyk, et al., "Cern SCADA Systems 2020 Large Upgrade Campaign Retrospective." The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), 2021. Accessed Oct 2022
Mark Bristow, "A SANS 2021 Survey: OT/ICS Cybersecurity." Nozomi Networks, Aug 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Morgana Siggins, "Top 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your SCADA System." DPS Telecom, Aug 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
Omer Qadri, "Understand Automation Maturity and How it Impacts your Operations Ability to Excel." AVEVA, Aug 2020. Accessed Oct 2022.
Osman, F.A., Hashem, M.Y.M. & Eltokhy, M.A.R., "Secured cloud SCADA system implementation for industrial applications." Multimedia Tools and Applications, Feb 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
Paul Balsom, "Cloud-based SCADA Delivers Enhanced Security and Energy Savings with Pump Optimization." High Tide Technologies, Aug 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
Phil Schmidt, John Gilmore, "Lessons learned from a $5 million SCADA upgrade." One Water Ohio. Accessed Oct 2022.
Philip Church, et al., "Migration of a SCADA system to IaaS clouds – a case study." Journal of Cloud Computing, 2017. Accessed Oct 2022.
Roy Tanner, "How Distributed Control Systems are Adapting to the Future of Manufacturing." Industrial Automation, Jun 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.
Seapee B, "Distributed Control Systems (DCS) Market." Allied Market Research, Sep 2016. Accessed Oct 2022.
Slavik Zorin, "10 App Modernization Mistakes to Avoid." Synchrony Systems, Aug 2022. Accessed Oct 2022.
Staff Writer, "The Future of SCADA in 2019 IIoT Tech." Thomasnet, Mar 2019. Accessed Oct 2022.
Tim Woolf, et al., "Benefit-Cost Analysis for Utility-Facing Grid Modernization Investments: Trends, Challenges, and Considerations." Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Feb 2021. Accessed Oct 2022.