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And you can thank the internet of things for your new collaborators

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Since time immemorial, IT professionals have been told they must serve their employers by delivering infrastructure that ensures both uninterrupted operations and delivers competitive advantage within moments of a new product or service being imagined.

The reality is rather messier, leading to endless commentary to the effect that IT has to stop being the department that says no and instead earn its keep while making chief information officers look good.

Now it looks like IT departments may be about to go through this all over again with a new stakeholder: the operations folks and engineers responsible for heavy machinery.

The reason IT professionals might be about to butt helmets with engineers is the advent of the internet of things, which is finding its way into industrial machinery. That creeping invasion has already been demonstrated to have problems, as every SCADA vulnerability demonstrates. But engineering types, Gartner research fellow Kristian Steenstrup told The Reg today, are reluctant to address problems in part because the suppliers of heavy equipment sell sealed-box products that are sold as just working. Throw in the fact such outfits aren't sufficiently mature software developers that they're tooled up for updates of their products and some heavy infrastructure can operate for years with known vulnerabilities baked in.

That's about to become scary, Steenstrup said, because enthusiasm for the internet of things means heavy infrastructure will soon come online.

Enter IT organisations, who are going to be asked to do for engineering what they've long been asked to do for the rest of a business.

This new conversation may show IT in a good light, Steenstrup said, because IT shops have better software development processes than those in operations. But IT will need to understand what engineers and operational technologists want and need, and that will mean some changes. Common security models spanning infrastructure and IT operations will soon be needed, he said, while software maintenance implementation plans may need to synchronise with plan maintenance schedules.

Gartner has devised a roadmap to help IT and engineering learn how to work together. The Reg suggested that roadmap might be called or lead to something called “EngOps” and Steenstrup smiled. Wanly. ®

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