Manufacturing and critical infrastructure automation applications such as supervisory and control data acquisition (SCADA) systems demand always-on secure reliability. Equipment and processes are commonly automated with robust programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other “smart” devices, but PCs are still needed for system management, data storage, human-machine interface (HMI) and other SCADA tasks.
Traditional PC hardware and software options are simply not rugged or reliable enough, and they’re often hard for operations personnel to maintain. To address these shortcomings, purpose-built computing platforms combined with thin client software technologies are required for the most critical SCADA and other applications.
In the information technology (IT) arena, computing and networking must balance confidentiality, integrity and availability (known as the “CIA” triad) in that order of priority.
- Confidentiality guarantees only permitted users can obtain data
- Integrity assures the data is accurate
- Availability makes certain data access is limited to authorized users
Out in the factory or infrastructure, operations technology (OT) demands different priorities to keep things running, namely “AIC”.
- Availability comes first to ensure systems can operate
- Integrity comes second since the system must be reliable
- Confidentiality is often just behind the other two requirements.
Availability, integrity and confidentiality for SCADA and other manufacturing and critical infrastructure computing have typically been achieved using specialized IT offerings to provide redundant hardware and software. IT personnel are experts at computers and networks, but much less informed about OT software, hardware and operating needs. OT personnel understand automation but may not be best positioned to manage heavy computing and networking installations. Therefore a better solution delivering “AIC” in a cost-effective and maintainable manner is needed.
In response to these challenges, users can deploy Stratus ztC Edge systems in conjunction with Rockwell Automation ThinManager to deliver virtual machines (VMs) and remote desktop services (RDS) as needed for their SCADA and other OT applications.
Stratus ztC Edge systems consist of two load-sharing nodes (nodes 0 and 1). With this configuration and associated on-board hardware and software, they provide integrated redundancy and seamless failover.
A typical configuration would deploy four VMs on one ztC Edge system, with each VM performing the following tasks:
- Server #1: Active directory domain controller, DHCP server, DNS server
- Server #2: HMI primary application server
(in this case Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk View and associated services)
- Server #3: HMI secondary application server
- Server #4: ThinManager, HMI Clients, PLC programming software
This configuration provides the operational core. Note that Server #1 is load-shared between nodes 0 and 1, while Server #2 is assigned to node 0 and Server #3 is assigned to node 1. Therefore, even if a node becomes unavailable, there will be an active HMI application server running uninterrupted on the other node.
ThinManager is critical for seamlessly handling numerous remote thin clients served by the primary/secondary application servers. Just as ztC Edge effectively provides a reliable hardware experience, ThinManager delivers a dependable software delivery experience regardless of any underlying failures.
Stratus ztC Edge and ThinManager combined create a cost-effective high availability computing platform, delivering uninterrupted operation for SCADA and other manufacturing and critical infrastructure applications. This platform provides:
- No single point of failure
- Integrated redundancy, with seamless failover
- Autonomous self-monitoring, protecting and healing
- Remote management and monitoring
Stratus can deliver this type of solution, or variations of it, as an integrated whole to simplify hardware and software selection, installation and maintenance for SCADA and other critical applications.