Specifying Hardware and Software for a Modern SCADA System

Enterprise Automation Specifying hardware software

How do I decide on hardware and software for a new SCADA System?

The best place to start is with the end in mind.  Sometimes that might mean designing the entire system, but often that is as simple as thinking through – and maybe writing down – all of the functionality and requirements you’d eventually like to have.  What is your vision for the system? While it may seem like a good idea to pick out the “best” hardware and then design from there, the truth is that there is often no “best” hardware.  There’s just the hardware that best fits your needs.

Imagine you’re upgrading your kitchen.  You see a refrigerator on sale and it has great ratings and features, so you buy it.  A few months later, you decide to upgrade your cabinets.  But none of your favorite cabinet configurations work – because the refrigerator is too wide. So now you’re stuck with either an awkward empty space or spending more than you intended for a custom piece. If you had thought through the full kitchen design before you bought the refrigerator, you could have just picked a different one that fit.  

When you pick out hardware or software without the entire system in mind, you may find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation.  The same is true when designing a SCADA system.  At Enterprise Automation, we have built internal tools for specifying hardware and software based on a full system design.  We will work closely with you to understand your specific needs and engineer the server, physical and virtual machines, create networking documentation, and pull that design together.  

What Is Our Process of Determining Hardware and Software Specifications?

Each element of the system must fit together. Once the full system is visualized, we’ll all have a better understanding of how many tags and I/O points will be required.  That will give us an idea of which SCADA platforms we could choose.  Each has its own sizing guidelines around CPU, RAM, storage space and other metrics.  From there, we can start to build the virtualization platform, including how many instances of Windows we’ll need, how many servers, and from there, we can specify the physical hardware to fit the system.  Our internal tool will take the built list of Virtual Machines and requirements and analyze how that translates to the overall number of terabytes of storage required, CPU Cores, memory, etc.

This process can work whether we are designing a brand new system or working with some existing elements.  With an existing system, when working through this process, we can determine which elements we really can reuse, and make recommendations on which elements might be better to change out in order to get the functionality you are looking for. 

To specify hardware and software for your SCADA system, you must think through the entire system as a whole.  You won’t be overbuying due to guessing.  You’ll purchase the right equipment that fits exactly for your application.


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