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SCADA vs Industrial IoT: Important Differences Between Systems

Even among highly-trained professionals, there can be confusion regarding terms like SCADA vs industrial IoT. The differences between various terms regarding industrial control systems can, at times, be challenging to parse out. But they’re worth noting, particularly in light of the occasional, bold predictions that rising IoT technologies may render SCADA systems obsolete.

Like most, we believe that SCADA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, some might argue those bold predictions reveal a misunderstanding of the fundamental roles and distinctions between SCADA and industrial IoT. After all, many ICS operators effectively synergize SCADA and industrial IoT in their daily operations as they keep our vital infrastructures safe and operational.

But regardless of your predictions for the future of industrial systems, parsing the differences between SCADA vs industrial IoT is a great way to understand what exactly is happening in the field of ICS advancements.

First Off: What is SCADA?

Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a centralized system responsible for controlling and monitoring essential processes in energy, utilities, oil/gas, manufacturing, and many other industries. SCADA components include networks, data acquisition, presentation of data, and control from either local or remote locations.

SCADA systems are typically known for their reliance on traditional architecture and hardware, some of which may have been in operation for decades. But that doesn’t mean SCADA systems are inherently outdated.

SCADA systems include both traditional, legacy networks and modern ones developed with recent improvements to interoperability and scalability. In fact, even many older legacy SCADA systems have been so upgraded with newer technologies that they’re anything but out-of-date. With proper security protocols, operators can remain prepared for any threats their SCADA may face.

What is Industrial IoT?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are newer technologies changing some of the ways operators can acquire, process, and respond to data from their industrial systems. The serverless data architecture of industrial IoT has allowed for improved information acquisition and retention with far greater efficiency than many SCADA legacy hardware and software.

It’s these improvements, along with recent cyberattack threats for industrial infrastructures, that have led some to decry SCADA as outdated and inherently vulnerable.

SCADA vs Industrial IoT: Not Necessarily One or the Other

Again, SCADA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

SCADA vs Industrial IoT - Why not both?

While SCADA sometimes unfairly tends to be viewed as inflexible, it often seamlessly integrates with newer IoT technologies. The result is a hybridized SCADA and industrial IoT system that pairs the reliability of legacy architecture with the improved data capabilities of IoT technologies.

ICS operators know that many SCADA systems aren’t inflexible by nature. These systems simply require the right technologies to integrate with—ones that don’t complicate, slow, or halt the industrial system’s ongoing processes. No matter how high-tech IoT advancements may seem, they don’t hold value if they hinder an industrial system’s operation or increase the system’s overall attack surface.

Convergence of IoT Visibility with SCADA Reliability

Many operators maintain their industrial system’s continued operation, reliability, and safety by strategically incorporating the right IoT technologies into their modern or legacy SCADA systems.

It’s the philosophy behind SynSaber, our industrial cybersecurity software that provides operators with visibility and insights into their IoT and SCADA systems. Our low-hardware, low-hassle ICS cybersecurity solution provides operators with end-to-end visibility in industrial systems to analyze, prevent, and react to any threats.

Most importantly, with SynSaber there are no massive hardware changes and software integration complications to your SCADA network. Your industrial system can remain running and well-protected.

Contact us for a demo of our software, or meet us at an upcoming event: