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Keep Your Legacy Operations Systems Running Smoothly

Keep Your Legacy Operations Systems Running Smoothly

Without Compromising Corporate Cybersecurity!

As I talk to Facility Executives and Energy Managers, one of the frustrations I hear regularly revolves around managing legacy systems like HVAC, Lighting and other building controls. The equipment is functioning properly, but often the energy management software runs on an end-of-life operating system that gives corporate security departments major concern.

Facility execs are being pushed to replace or upgrade software and sometimes proprietary hardware for the security of the corporate network.

In most of these cases there is no ROI in replacing what is working well within acceptable parameters. I would suggest that it is a terrible time to replace a fully functional working system as you should wait for a stronger ROI with more strategic investments in the years ahead and not be stuck waiting while you depreciate an unnecessary and untimely upgrade.

This is a challenge that is going to continue to ramp up in the next few years.

Matching the longer life cycle of facilities equipment (often 7 to 15+ years) to the life cycle of IT systems (often every 2-3 years) is difficult and very, very expensive. Facilities systems are often intended to last for 10 years or longer. Instead of trying to match the life cycle of IT – make IT match the life cycle of operations technology.

The risk to the corporate network is very real. I will save this topic for another blog but know that the stakes are incredibly high.Facilities managers are seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is a way out.

Build a secure OT network that runs parallel to the corporate network and fully air-gapped from the corporate network.

Building and running a dedicated OT network is 99% of the time significantly less expensive than upgrading software and replacing hardware.  A dedicated and parallel operations network approach also supports adding a wide range of other operations technologies that IT and information security departments have denied on the corporate network.

You might be wondering: why is it safe to run end-of-life software on a separate network but not on a corporate network?

First, a corporate network is designed to support lots of users and lots of services and exposing that network to aging systems that are vulnerable to hacks can create major issues (such as the infamous Target Retail hack in 2016). Generally, on a corporate network you start with a wide range of services open to support all of the enterprise needs and then the IT and information security teams lock down what they can.

On the other hand, an OT network is completely private and separate from the corporate network. In fact, the whole network can be invisible or undiscoverable. Each system and device is secured and access is added only as needed (think a mechanical room versus lobby).

An OT network has far fewer users and far fewer services thus it is easier to mitigate the risk of an end-of-life system. You could even completely isolate your legacy equipment from your newer ops tech.

Finally, the OT network is not connected to the key enterprise systems that IT and information security is protecting – vital customer and employee records and confidential financial information – so the risk of your legacy systems are completely mitigated if you run a dedicated OT network for all of your operations systems!

Keep Your Legacy Operations Systems Running Smoothly
Without Compromising Corporate Cybersecurity.

If you would like to learn more about how an OT network could benefit your facilities department, send me an email at or sign up for my blog here.

Is Access To Energy Systems Always Complicated?

Is Access To Energy Systems Always Complicated?

Often times the connectivity for OT systems is done on a one-off basis to meet the needs of the specific OT initiative.   

In other words, a custom solution is created for each system or project, however this often results in complex and cumbersome access across a company’s spectrum of OT systems.  What if you could easily access and control most or all of your OT systems whether you’re on-site, on the road, or at home?

We have talked to hundreds of companies about their OT environments and we believe most are faced with one or more of these scenarios.

IT may be saying NO to connecting OT to the corporate network!  Common scenarios:

1. No OT is allowed on the corporate network!  The security for Point of Sale and other customer transactional systems is too high for IT to add all OT on the same corporate network.

2. You have one or more OT systems aready on the corporate IT network, yet your access is limited and remote control or vendor access is limited.  If you need more access, the answer is most often no, citing security risks or restriction on remote access.

3. Some OT vendors have provided a proprietary “black box” that’s installed at each site to provide a work-around for remote control, troubleshooting or data collection.  The ongoing costs and especially the security of these is often unknown!

4. Modems.  Remember them?  There are still everywhere.  Many vendors used modems for remote access and they can be installed any equipment, like trash compactors, solar arrays, generators, and lighting systems. (ps – remove a couple of these and you can easily pay for an always-on dedicated network!)

So what’s the big deal?

First, more systems require some form of access in order to run them efficiently and sustainably.  These already include building controls for heating/cooling/air handling, lighting, solar, electric/gas/water utilities, security cameras, elevators, and fire/safety systems to name a few.  As separate access is often developed for each system, it becomes more and more challenging to troubleshoot any problems.  Is a server down?  Why is the utility bill 2x normal? Do I have to roll a truck to diagnose most issues?  When I talk to customers who have been experiencing this for an extended period of time, they are generally pretty frustrated! 😊

Every year, it takes more and more time from overworked OT professionals to troubleshoot issues across this increasing array of OT systems – it would be much easier to simplify access with a low-cost, dedicated OT network where you can have visibility to all your OT systems!  

Second, it is confusing for the teams on the ground to manage.  Think how much easier it would be for support teams if they could access most or all OT systems from one secure login regardless of the system or vendor?  Plus, as an added bonus, you could strictly control who can access each device AND where they can access it from (sorry no overseas cyber-criminals!).  When you multiply the reduction of troubleshooting time, even if it is minutes, times the number of people who should be spending time on productive tasks, the cost savings add up quickly!

Third, costs are mounting!  As you start to add up the cost of all the separate connection costs in a given building, you would probably be surprised to see how much money you can save with a dedicated OT network.  Sometimes the costs are invisible because each modem and the hosting is built into the monthly bills for all those systems.  I strongly suspect that if many companies got serious about finding those hidden costs, they could reduce overall costs and afford improved access with all the bells and whistles and support they desire!

Finally, are you ready for the future?  Over time the demand for access and the potential business benefits of access will grow.  Do you have access to all of your OT data or do you have to purchase YOUR data from many different vendors? New Sustainability imperatives will drive the need for data collection and analytics across systems and vendors; do the various one-off networks prevent you from easily collecting data?  Can you switch vendors or add vendors at the speed of business or does the network inhibit future projects?

The needs of OT and the opportunity to save money and energy are growing rapidly.  Please contact Sam at to simplify access all of your energy systems!  Thank you!


A Convergence of Forces in 2022?

A Convergence of Forces in 2022?

Sustainability & Facilities/Operations in 2022 A convergence of forces is driving the need for companies to rethink what sustainability means to their business and facilities operations. From increased regulations for the health and safety of customers and employees, to economic factors such as rising energy costs and advanced smart building technologies becoming more affordable. Those same forces are changing the role of Operations Technology (OT) professionals.  Most OT professionals have always been under pressure to deliver savings or efficiencies, but now they need to deliver increased sustainability while also protecting the company’s reputation.  Many well recognized companies are pledging to be carbon negative within a decade, such as Microsoft who details their commitment in this blog here.

Where do OT professionals stand on Sustainability?

As I talk to OT professionals, I have seen cases of needing to push back on sustainability goals, but NOT due to a lack of support for our planet and environment!  The push back is often based upon lack of budget support and already strained OT resources, especially during the pandemic!  We all know OT professionals are deeply practical professionals, focused on operational excellence and saving money to the company’s bottom line. Sustainability leaders can be perceived by some to have their head in the clouds or responding to pressure from public relations teams.   Sustainability goals are going to continue to take front and center in 2022 and the advances in technology have finally arrived to affordably connect and optimize the efficiency across all facilities areas, including HVAC, Refrigeration, Lighting, Energy/Utilities, and Solar to name a few.  In fact, according to KPMG, 80% of top companies now report on sustainability and the depth and breadth of reporting continues to grow.  

What are your 2022 goals for energy efficiencies, clean energy use and decarbonization?

Often the bottom line for energy professionals is cost savings measured by reduced utility bills, while Sustainability is often measured with data collected and reported from all the energy and emissions produced by the company.  Most facilities vendors and OT service providers now provide more intelligent software and hardware tools to monitor and optimize energy usage across all building and facilities systems.  Is it that easy, no way!  Gaining access to OT systems through corporate IT networks has been a significant challenge for most companies before NuOz began offering dedicated OT networks!

What challenges are you facing with connecting all your facilities systems?

  1. One or more OT vendors were grandfathered on IT networks, but NO new vendors
  2. 3rd party vendor remote access or monitoring of systems is denied for security reasons 
  3. Legacy software & end of life systems have vulnerabilities that create security holes
  4. Building dedicated OT networks or managing fleets of modems is more full time work
  5. Installing dedicated last-mile connectivity can take months and very high monthly costs
  6. Your OT vendors use networking technologies unfamiliar to IT – BacNet, Echelon, etc
  7. Troubleshooting OT technology is taking up more and more of your time!
These and many more challenges are facing OT professionals every day.  NuOz is dedicated to improving the lives of OT teams and enabling them to achieve the best business results along with the evolving sustainability goals!  NuOz has specialized experience with medium to large enterprises with industry-leading affordable dedicated OT networks that solve these common challenges.  
We are excited to continue sharing a weekly blog series on topics enabling OT professionals to be successful in 2022!  Thank you!

Why should OT have an OT network?

Why should OT have an OT network?

Control baby, be the master of your universe!

It’s easier than you might think.  You need an Operations network.  A network designed for the needs of facilities.  In other words, the OT network of tomorrow. 

Access is creativity on steroids – you can do so much more!

The idea of one giant network to meet the needs of an entire company came about because broadband connections were very expensive.  It worked because companies were doing email, hosting a website and maybe doing ecommerce.  Access is creativity on steroids and it has launched a million ways to run facilities (and every other aspect of business) more efficiently.  All of a sudden you can have your trash compactors send out a message when they are full and have just in time garbage pick-up. You can get an alert telling you your generators have kicked in due to an overnight power outage or your solar is down. You can put your lights on a schedule to eliminate paying for lights when the store is closed.  Now companies are getting serious about analytics and telemetry.  To do this right, you will need to collect data not for one vendor or system but for all vendors and systems.

The corporate network has not been able to keep up with the needs of OT and facilities.

In many cases, the corporate network has not been able to keep up with the needs of OT and facilities.  In fact the situation is getting worse not better.  We are in a cycle of big technological advancements and it is going to continue.  First, many companies and organizations are under enormous pressure to cut costs because of current economic conditions and unfortunately this situation is going to take time to dig out of so the pressure is going to continue. Second, all businesses are under pressure to reduce their carbon foot print. You need infrastructure to take advantages of those technological advancements. 

To go further and to continue to do more with less, you are going to need technology.

I see every day how hard OT professionals work and the intense pressure you are under.  I know you are stretched to the limit.  I also know you have wrung every possible penny of savings out of the system.  To go further and to continue to do more with less, you are going to need technology and you are going to need to control that technology instead of being held hostage by it.

Have you had enough yet?

You might be thinking “yes, Sam, I am working my butt off but being held hostage – that’s a bit extreme…” Actually, it’s not.  Each time you can’t get access to a device you need access to, each time you can’t use an EMS software effectively because you don’t have the bandwidth or the server capacity you need, each time you make a decision about a vendor based on which vendor is on the network instead of for business reasons, each time you delay a project waiting on IT, each time you pay for a report on your own equipment or go without data you are being held hostage by your network or lack thereof and its adding up fiscally and mentally.

Facilities doesn’t have an IT budget

You might be thinking “yeah I know Sam, but how am I going to pay for it?”  I suggest you start keeping a list of all these problems so you can start to have an idea of what it is costing you.  If you wanted to share that list with me confidentially, I would love it AND it would make this blog better.  Think about it 😊 It is less expensive than you think. It will absolutely pay for itself.

Building a network is more achievable and cost effective than you think.  I will be writing blogs on how to build an OT network but if you don’t want to wait hit reply, I am happy to answer questions.

  • Why build a network? Control baby, be the master of your universe!
  • OT Professionals are under intense pressure to cut cost and reduce their carbon foot print.
  • To save more, you will need technology and to control your technology.
  • Lack of a network or infrastructure under your control is adding up fiscally and mentally.
You Are a Primary Hacking Target

You Are a Primary Hacking Target

A lot of us have started tuning out cyber risks

Everybody is getting hacked all of the time. Individuals’ have their credit card information stolen, small businesses’ computer systems are coopted for nefarious purposes, schools and hospitals and oil pipelines have their computer systems held hostage for ransom, Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service hacks prevent companies from using the internet or prevent customers from accessing their web and e-commerce sites, princes in far off lands need you to wire them $1000, and they will repay you 100 times over.  The list goes on and on.  In fact, it has become so noisy a lot of us have started tuning it out.

OT professionals are on the front line of cyber security and cannot afford to let their guard down.  Retailers, Schools, Universities, Pharmaceutical Companies, Hospitals, Government Institutions, and you are prime hacking targets. 1. You are well known around the world, and hackers view you as their great white whale. Hacking into a major target will get your work publicized in newspapers around the world.  2. Everyone knows you store private customer or student or patient information and credit card details on your network.  Those details are worth huge money on the dark web. In other words, hackers gain fame and wealth – the best of the best are coming after you.

Hacks and cyber security breaches are particularly costly for highly recognized and trusted organizations. 

They tend to make top headlines not just for a day or two but for months or years.  CEOs and CTOs have been forced to resign.  Customers lose faith in their favorite organizations when their data is stolen, and hard costs can climb to hundreds of millions in cash settlements alone.

What does this have to do with OT?

Having 3rd party vendors on the corporate or organization network is a major security risk, and OT often has quite a few 3rd party vendors on the network.  My next blog is about the security concerns involved in allowing vendors on the network.  In the meantime, you can read about the 7 largest hacks caused by vendors operating on your network here.

  • Retailers, Schools, Universities, Pharmaceutical Companies, Hospitals, Government Institutions, and you are prime hacking targets.
  • Hacks and cybersecurity breaches are particularly costly for highly recognized and trusted organizations.
  • OT professionals for multi-site organizations and companies are on the front line of cybersecurity and cannot afford to let their guard down.