Control News from Europe January 2008

Andrew Bond Reports from Europe

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Industrial Defender now claims to have completed more than 70 process control/SCADA cyber security assessments and more than 1,300 cyber security technology deployments and to provide managed security services for 150 process control plants in 21 countries.

 


 

New NIST security guidelines

NIST, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, has released an initial draft of new security guidelines for government information technology systems used for industrial control processes. The revised appendix to NIST Special Publication (SP) 800- 53, “Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems” is a response to what is described as “the urgent need to provide guidance on appropriate safeguards and countermeasures for federal industrial control systems,” particularly because of the likelihood that such systems may be directly or indirectly connected to the Internet. The revision specifically addresses systems which, because they are used for specific processes, have architectures, hardware and software platforms and configurations which fall outside the parameters covered by the main document.

 


 

Agreement will merge leading SIL tools

Safety consultancy and certification specialist, exida.com, has purchased a license which will allow it to merge the SILSuite product line developed by Aberdeen, Scotland-based Asset Integrity Management (AIM) into its exSILentia suite of tools for the safety life cycle. SILSuite is a modular set of software tools that has been widely adopted in Europe and is used by leading refining and chemical companies worldwide. exida believes that its strengths complement those of exSILentia and will allow it to broaden its safety lifecycle software solution.

SILSuite modules, which address many of the phases of the safety life cycle, include SILAlarm, SILHazop, SILClass and SILCalc. exida plans to support both product platforms and integrate their features into a combined product that will be marketed under the exSILentia brand. It believes that the combination of SILSuite’s integrated safety life cycle concepts with exSILentia’s extensive equipment database and SIL verification engine will result in a market leading solution for functional safety customers.

 


 

U.K. hacks caught in SCADA-induced time warp

U.K. trade journalists could be forgiven for feeling that they had been caught in a time warp last week, and one induced not, or at least not entirely, by an excess of pre-Christmas conviviality. Back in November, 2006, and following its earlier acquisition by U.S.-based ‘Wireless Enterprise Automation’ specialist Elutions, marketing director Emmanuel Vitrac was in London to launch the newly revitalised Wizcon with a new release of its long-established SCADA package, a new U.K. distributor in Duncan Fletcher’s MatriVUE and a new regional account manager, Intellution alumnus Phil Bourne.

Fast forward to December, 2007, and Vitrac is back touring the southeast of the U.K, and even presenting at the same “First Friday” press event, with news of a ‘new state-of-the-art SCADA software platform,’ a new U.K. distributor – Irlam, Manchester-based Distec – and a new regional account manager, Intellution alumnus Jim Baillie. And all that before PR consultant and First Friday convenor John Fisher had even announced that the bar was open.

These latest developments are of course entirely in keeping with the history of Wizcon over the past decade as both product and company have gone through a succession of names, owners and strategies. Indeed last summer’s news that Fletcher had transferred his allegiance to Austrian SCADA vendor Copa-Data just months after taking on the Wizcon distributorship can have come as a surprise to nobody other than the long suffering and seemingly eternally optimistic Vitrac.

As to what happened to Phil Bourne, we hadn’t the heart to ask.

Underlying quality

Perhaps the one real positive that comes out of this long running saga, however, is that, given its checkered history, the fact that users continue to rely on and to invest in the Wizcon product, currently known as Wizcon Supervisor and now in its ninth generation, must be some kind of tribute to its underlying quality. Indeed Vitrac is able to refer to some impressive references including CERN, Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris, and the Geneva municipal water supply. Soon to be revealed, he claims, is a major contract with one of Europe’s leading food retailers, building on its success with the 1300-store Food Lion chain in the eastern U.S. It’s that underlying reputation that Elutions now hopes to build on in both North America and Europe with the forthcoming release in early January 2008 of ControlMaestro 2008, its “Site-level Automation Software Platform.”
 
ControlMaestro is Elutions’ first attempt to bring together Wizcon’s SCADA and web expertise with its own enterprise asset management experience and wireless technologies, while at the same time providing a migration path for users of the 60,000 odd Wizcon Supervisor applications to a next generation solution.
 
To that end it presses all the right buttons: object-orientation to allow a high level of reuse in application development; web enabled supervision and control from any location; support for PDAs, smartphones and panel PCs; biometric or smartcard-based positive user identification combined with Active Directory-based centralized user management; FDA 21CFR 11-compliant traceability; integrated video; and, pace Copa-Data and Fletcher, full Windows Vista support. In other hands that would sound like a credible rival to the likes of Wonderware, Citect and Iconics. The challenge for Vitrac, Baillie and Distec is to convince potential users they’re not still trapped in that time warp.

 


 

Whither Invensys?

With the share price obstinately refusing to respond to the good news of the sale of APV  and, at around 240p, down nearly 50% on last summer’s peak, rumors continue to swirl around Invensys. Following the decision to move the Invensys Process Systems (IPS) headquarters to Dallas, the current suggestion given credence on Jim Pinto's Invensys weblog (http://www.jimpinto.com/weblog/invensyslog.html) is that IPS boss Paulett Eberhart’s former company EDS is to acquire IPS, dispose of the hardware portions – Foxboro, Triconex and IPS Measurement & Instrumentation – and concentrate on developing the software and consulting business around Wonderware and Infusion. Even competitors are suggesting that this should be taken with a pinch of salt, although they do point to the increasing dominance of Wonderware with Pankaj Mody, who led the development of ArchestrA, heading up software development for IPS and Wonderware, and newly appointed Wonderware president Sudipta Bhattacharya reporting not to Eberhart, as his predecessor Mike Bradley did, but direct to Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson.

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