ARC: Open, Secure Systems Moving Forward

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 @ 02:02 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
It wasn’t that long ago when ExxonMobil made the industry stand at attention and start thinking of the next evolution of open system security and process control.

What the oil giant was saying one year ago was the industry needed to change – and change fast. While it would be easy for the naysayers to shrug and say it will never happen, the interesting thing is, there seems to be a momentum shift toward the initiative if you listened to Don Bartusiak’s keynote last week at the ARC Advisory Group 21st Annual Industry Forum in Orlando, FL.

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The chief engineer at ExxonMobil Research & Engineering gave an update on how the initiative is moving forward and what some of the next steps are.

One of the major movements was to establish the Open Group’s new Open Process Automation Forum, which now has 102 members. This forum will focus on developing a standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture. The forum is a consensus-based group of end users, system integrators, suppliers, academia, and standards organizations. It addresses technical and business issues for process automation.

“DCSs need to be replaced because of obsolescence in the next 15 years,” Bartusiak said. “Just replacing the systems was not enough.”

Plus, he added, security is becoming an even more vital concern.

“With a 20 year DCS lifecycle, how can we keep up with security that is in the IT cycle?” Bartusiak asked. “We need to design and build in security, not just bolt it on.”

Bartusiak mentioned the objectives to fix their business issue was to:
• Lower replacement and lifecycle costs
• Create greater value generation

The goal is to have a commercially available system to be up and running by 2021, he said.

The problem is with entrenched DCSs anchoring facilities across the globe, an update just does not cut it. Instead, users need to reap the benefits of new technologies that can take advantage of any technological advances.

After laying out the scenario of what the industry looks like now, Bartusiak talked about taking advantage of the trends already in existence from other industries.

That is where their integrator partner, Lockheed Martin, will come into play. Last year, Bartusiak talked about the defense avionics industries transitioning from a proprietary stovepipe model to a fully open and interoperable system architecture. That is where manufacturing is going so it can take advantage of opportunities from the Internet of Things (IoT), wireless and cloud services.

Acting as a backbone to the entire open system concept, Bartusiak said new security models are emerging to enable more secure data flow between the operations technology and the IT side.

This plan is not something thrown together in the past year or so. ExxonMobil started moving toward this model in 2010 when it began research and development for a control system replacement.

Some of the trends that influenced their thinking were:
• Avionics use of open systems
• Real-time virtualization and software-defined networking use in telecommunications
• IT/OT cybersecurity innovations
• IIoT, wireless, and cloud services drive expectations for change

In 2014, they developed functional characteristics to engage the industry and in 2015, they inked a contract with Lockheed Martin to define the requirements and build a prototype. Last year, there was the development of the Open Process Automation Forum to develop standards.

ExxonMobil is continuing its bold move to change the industry’s way of thinking about technology. And, if you look at the number of folks joining the Open Group’s new Open Process Automation Forum, there seems to be traction.

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