AWS for Industries

OT-IT Integration: AWS and Siemens break down data silos by closing the machine-to-cloud gap


The industrial sector is driving the convergence of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), promising improved efficiency and data-driven decision making. This is a much-needed shift; without it, industrial organizations will likely struggle scaling their digital transformation and smart connected operations. However, the path to OT-IT integration has faced challenges ranging from security concerns to integration issues and data management complexities.

Today, AWS announced that AWS IoT SiteWise Edge, on-premises software that makes it easy to collect, organize, process, and monitor equipment data, can now be deployed directly from the Siemens Industrial Edge Marketplace to help simplify, accelerate, and reduce the cost of sending industrial equipment data to the AWS cloud. This new offering aims to help bridge the chasm between OT and IT by allowing customers to start ingesting OT data from a variety of industrial protocols into the cloud faster using Siemens Industrial Edge Devices already connected to machines, removing layers of configuration and accelerating time to value.

In this blog post, we will explore why OT-IT integration is vital for industrial transformation, how data silos hinder innovation, and the benefits of centralizing the deployment and management of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications from the edge to the cloud.

Breaking down OT and IT data silos: A requirement for industrial transformation

The convergence of OT and IT plays a critical role in industrial transformation, especially in the context of digitalization of the manufacturing sector. OT traditionally pertains to systems controlling industrial processes, like supervisory control systems (SCADA) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), that manage and carry out operations at the production level; while IT involves systems supporting corporate functions, managing the tools and network systems that facilitate the company’s administrative and operational activities.

OT and IT both manage data at scale; however, this data has often been locked in isolated pockets that are not easily accessible or integrated. This has resulted in a lack of visibility across the shop floor and the enterprise, as well as costly investments to develop custom solutions and point-to-point integrations that fail to scale or provide repeatability across use cases and facilities.

New initiatives such as Smart Manufacturing envision a highly interconnected future, where the real-time flow of information between production and business systems is crucial. To make this vision a reality, IT and OT must break down data silos integrating both domains for better process optimization and seamless information exchange. In essence, IT-OT integration seeks a unified approach to maximize efficiency in manufacturing operations and promises to deliver:

  1. Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity: Integration leads to more streamlined and efficient operational processes, as data flows seamlessly between different parts of the organization. This union allows for streamlined production processes, predictive maintenance, and efficient resource utilization, leading to reduced downtime and waste.
  2. Data-Driven Decision Making: With OT equipment and systems generating vast amounts of data, IT systems can process, contextualize, analyze, and turn this data into actionable insights. Industries can make informed decisions based on real-time data, resulting in improved quality, reduced costs, and increased production speeds.
  3. Enhanced Security and Compliance: Integrated data improves traceability, making it easier to comply with regulations and standards. With OT-IT convergence, industries can apply IT-grade security protocols to protect against cyber threats. A unified approach to security can safeguard sensitive data and ensure uninterrupted operations.
  4. Cost Savings: An integrated OT-IT environment can lead to significant cost reductions through use cases such as predictive maintenance and real-time monitoring of energy consumption. In addition, it may remove unnecessary and costly middleware to unlock data and make it usable.
  5. Scalability: The integration of OT and IT enables better utilization of existing resources and improved data management. The vast amount of data generated by operational technologies becomes more accessible, manageable, and usable across multiple use cases and the enterprise.

While these benefits have been discussed at length and are well understood, in reality, the adoption of IIoT applications continues to be slow due to ongoing concerns, such as upfront infrastructure investment requirements, interoperability challenges due to legacy systems and proprietary protocols, and potential security vulnerabilities as OT systems become connected to broader networks.

Bridging the gap between IT and OT, starting at the edge

Recent advancements in cloud technologies – particularly in hybrid cloud, security, internet of things, and edge computing – have allowed companies in the industrial sector to capture the value of digital transformation workflows for operational optimization and innovation. Hybrid cloud and IoT software deployed to on-premises hardware have resolved latency and bandwidth concerns, as well as ensured that the vast amounts of data generated by OT systems are efficiently collected, processed, and made accessible across the edge and the cloud. But there’s still a gap in the integration between OT and IT that has prevented industrial customers from creating a streamlined pipeline for data ingestion, management, and analysis.

Today, the data pipeline between the machine (OT) and the cloud (IT) is built of many systems that need to be integrated together, leading to longer lead times to deploy projects as well as infrastructure and overhead cost. It requires middleware to be configured; dozens of industrial data protocols to be translated; and IT infrastructure acquired and provisioned to run solutions for every use case. The question remains, how do we enable efficient and cost-effective raw machine data ingestion and processing closer to the source, at the edge?

AWS IoT SiteWise Edge Now Available on the Siemens Industrial Edge Marketplace

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Siemens have a long history of collaboration in applying new cloud technologies to accelerate digital transformation. With this announcement, these two leaders bring the power of industrial automation (OT) and the cloud (IT) together to offer a more streamlined machine-to-edge and edge-to-cloud experience to manufacturing customers.

Figure 1: This collaboration between AWS and Siemens aims to accelerate the creation and deployment of Industrial IoT applications at scale that work seamlessly across the edge and the cloud by bringing data collection and processing closer to the machine and helping streamline your data pipeline into the cloud.

Customers can now jumpstart industrial data ingestion from machine to edge (Level 1 and Level 2 OT networks) by deploying AWS IoT SiteWise Edge using existing Siemens Industrial Edge infrastructure and connectivity applications such as SIMATIC S7+ Connector, Modbus TCP Connector, and more. You can then securely aggregate and process data from a large number of machines and production lines (Level 3), as well as send it to the AWS cloud for use across a wide range of use cases. This empowers process engineers, maintenance technicians, and efficiency champions to derive business value from operational data that is organized and contextualized for use in local and cloud applications, unlocking use cases such as asset monitoring, predictive maintenance, quality inspection, and energy management.

“This strategic collaboration between AWS and Siemens marks a significant milestone in the journey toward OT-IT convergence,” said Michael MacKenzie, General Manager for AWS Industrial IoT & Edge. “The launch of AWS IoT SiteWise Edge on Siemens Industrial Edge ensures a robust exchange of data from the shop floor to the cloud, unlocking a myriad of opportunities for enhanced efficiency, improved sustainability, better informed decision-making, and robust security.”

“The addition of AWS IoT SiteWise Edge to the Siemens Industrial Edge Marketplace creates new opportunities to deploy edge and cloud applications at scale and manage closed-loop automation workflows,“ says Rainer Brehm, CEO of Factory Automation at Siemens. “Our customers are constantly facing new challenges to boost productivity, flexibility, and sustainability across their production processes. To help them, Siemens is expanding its traditional strong OT portfolio by integrating IT and software capabilities into automation with Industrial Operations X.”

With this collaboration, AWS IoT SiteWise Edge now interoperates with the Siemens Industrial Operations X portfolio, bringing enhanced connectivity, security, scalability, and flexibility to industrial operations. First, it unlocks data from the most used industrial protocols for use across a diverse portfolio of applications and offerings by both AWS and Siemens. In addition, AWS IoT SiteWise Edge utilizes data encryption at the source, strict authentication protocols, and sturdy firewalls to safeguard data from the moment it is generated— a critical feature in today’s landscape of escalating cyber threats. Finally, this offering allows industrial customers to get started quickly to enable localized data processing and subsequently scale up to take advantage of more advanced use cases enabled by the AWS Cloud as their needs evolve. To get started, visit the AWS IoT SiteWise Edge product listing on the Siemens Industrial Edge Marketplace.

The Future of Industrial Operations

This collaboration between AWS and Siemens marks a significant milestone in the journey toward OT-IT convergence, propelling the industrial sector closer to realizing the full potential of digital transformation. This new offering aims to break down the barriers of data silos, ensuring a fluid exchange of data from the shop floor to the cloud, and unlocking a myriad of opportunities for enhanced efficiency, informed decision-making, and robust security.

As industries continue to navigate the complexities of digitalization, the ability to bridge the gap between the operational and informational spheres of the business is paramount. AWS IoT SiteWise Edge serves as a catalyst for this transformation, offering a streamlined, secure, and scalable solution for ingesting machine data directly into the AWS Cloud.By creating a direct link between Siemens Industrial Edge infrastructure and AWS IoT SiteWise, this offering is another step towards liberating valuable OT data generated on the shop floor and transforming it into actionable insights.

Sophie Pagalday

Sophie Pagalday

Sophie Pagalday is the Sr. Product Marketing Lead for the AWS for Industrial & Manufacturing growing portfolio of purpose-built services. She's spent most of her product marketing career in the industrial automation, logistics, and supply chain space, focused on technology ranging from enterprise work management systems to robotics. As an advocate for our customers, Sophie is relentless about learning about the challenges they face and how to best communicate how our services can help them achieve their goals.

Torben Poertner

Torben Poertner

Torben has over 10 years of experience in supporting customers across different industries such as manufacturing, machine building, energy and telecommunications in mastering their digital transformation. This spans from consulting customers on new opportunities in the digital world, the launch of new digital business models and its implementation from first minimal value products to full blown technology development. Torben joined Siemens in 2017 focusing on driving Edge, Cloud, IoT at Factory Automation with particular focus on opening up Siemens technology for contributions of partners, defining value-adding IoT solutions from different vendors for industrial manufacturers and preparing the G2M for modern software offerings for automation. In 2020, he was appointed Vice President Edge Ecosystem for Factory Automation taking the responsibility for all partner activities around Siemens Industrial Edge and the go-to-market of the Industrial Edge software and solutions portfolio leveraging a modern digital customer journey.