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Collaborating to create a secure data handling process

21 May 2013

Controlling and managing a complex system in some process and infrastructure industries, such as surface rail, airports or underground metro systems, have the added complexity of having to achieve this over long distances with the possibility of 1000's of I/O points.

These application environments also, often have the added challenge of safety and security issues - if there is a failure then very often there are direct implications on both humans and the natural world. This requires users in these application environments to implement the strongest risk management processes, which means new concepts need extensive testing.
e-F@ctory Alliance partners, Raima and Mitsubishi Electric, came together to solve a customer’s problem. The customer problem was the monitoring and tracking of 1000's of assets on a sub-terrain metro line in a cost-effective, reliable and secure way.

Raima and Mitsubishi Electric decided to use existing, approved solutions, designed for purpose and combined into a single system. This would be easier than trying to force traditional approaches to solve issues they were never designed for.

Raima was already strongly positioned in the field of secure data management with combinations of server, PC and embedded solutions which could transfer and manage data in a predictable and repeatable way.

Features such as ACID based data replication and data encryption, as used in Bank ATMs to ensure data is seamlessly and reliably transmitted, as well as the use of a networked database concept, which has a predictable speed impact, were critical to this solution. Also key was to design the system architecture as a distributed database - it was planned that small local databases (based on RDMe) were to be embedded in the local PLC.

When the discussions with Raima turned to issues regarding distributed data management, Mitsubishi Electric already had a solution with its iQ Platform. This combination of PLC and PAC control solved the problem of how to embed a fully operating database in a non-PC environment, yet retain the reliability and security of industrial PLC control.

The use of the iQ platform’s C Controller was able to host the Raima RDM embedded database as it seamlessly integrates with the PLC control function through the iQ Platform. The C Controller also provided industrial reliability, with no moving parts, high environmental resilience and a fully C environment meaning it was not susceptible to the normal issues around PC security.

The combination of these two core technologies provided the rail operator with a secure and reliable system; however, that was not the end of the discussions.

Working closely with another e-F@ctory Alliance partner, Green Hills Software, Raima and Mitsubishi Electric were able to enhance the system security and operability further by changing the operating system of the main central database server to the Green Hills INTEGRITY RTOS. This real-time operating system (RTOS) has a Separation Kernel architecture that allows the server to be built using technology that effectively enables isolated user environments, or partitions, to be created. These multiple secure partitions can host real-time applications and/or guest operating systems on a single server. By using this, and hosting the central Raima database in one of these secure partitions, it was possible to create a certifiable system solution. The result was a high reliability server with distributed high reliability field controllers linked by a high reliability database, all with security and industrial performance; ideal for the mass transit systems which need maximum up time, a demand also seen in process industries.

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