RTI deals with censors, actuators - things with moving parts, Schneider explains. That may sound like small tech, but it actually involves a lot of VERY big things, such as Navy ships, where RTI might run the networking nervous system, unmanned vehicle systems, ground stations, radars, factory systems and process automation.
One intriguing example of how RTI marries small technologies to manage larger physical items: Volkswagen uses its technology, combined with cutting-edge tech from MIT, to build "safety augmentations." This combines radar, video cameras and laser ranger finders to make your car aware of what you're doing - it actually tracts your eyes - and well as the environment around your car, so it can react if, say, you start to drive off the road, explains Schneider.
But now RTI is focusing on the integration of the traditional IT world with the operational world. It recently announced Connext, a real-time SOA-based platform that uses an operational service bus for integrating sensors to IT systems.
Schneider compares the operational service bus to a traditional enterprise service bus. What's different? The operational bus actually carries the data model on the bus.
"Our system takes that same operational space information and translates it into a data model that we put on a distributed bus, a peer-to-peer, multi-cast-enabled distributed bus that we actually call the data bus,'" he explains in a recent ITBE interview. "Then you could have hundreds or thousands of nodes on that bus, not physically close together at all, over a high-speed network or a wireless network or something if you have to go out to sea. Then it does the translation back from the data model on that data bus to the system it's trying to talk to."
There's also a micro-version for operational tech that requires a tiny footprint - such as when you want to use a sensor within a pipe, he said. Long term, this type of integration will require a series shift in how both operational tech and information tech are managed. Gartner outlined potential barriers to the integration of OT and IT:
The best first step, according to Gartner, is to take an inventory of your OT systems - all of which are typically in their own silos - and look at where integration into IT would make the most sense, solve the biggest problem and, hopefully, provide the biggest payoff.