The Evolution of SCADA
The first iteration of SCADA started off with mainframe computers. Networks as we know them today were not available and each SCADA system stood on its own. These systems were what would now be referred to as monolithic SCADA systems.
In the 80s and 90s, SCADA continued to evolve thanks to smaller computer systems, Local Area Networking (LAN) technology, and PC-based HMI software. SCADA systems soon were able to be connected to other similar systems. Many of the LAN protocols used in these systems were proprietary, which gave vendors control of how to optimize data transfer. Unfortunately, these systems were incapable of communicating with systems from other vendors. These systems were called distributed SCADA systems.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, building upon the distributed system model, SCADA adopted an incremental change by embracing an open system architecture and communications protocols that were not vendor-specific. This iteration of SCADA, called a networked SCADA system, took advantage of communications technologies such as Ethernet. Networked SCADA systems allowed systems from other vendors to communicate with each other, alleviating the limitations imposed by older SCADA systems, and allowed organizations to connect more devices to the network.
While SCADA systems have undergone substantial evolutionary changes, many industrial organizations continued to struggle with industrial data access from the enterprise level. By the late 1990s to the early 2000s, a technological boom occurred and personal computing and IT technologies accelerated in development. Structured query language (SQL) databases became the standard for IT databases but were not adopted by SCADA developers. This resulted in a rift between the fields of controls and IT, and SCADA technology became antiquated over time.
Traditional SCADA systems still use proprietary technology to handle data. Whether it is a data historian, a data connector, or other means of data transfer, the solution is messy and incredibly expensive. Modern SCADA systems aim to solve this problem by leveraging the best of controls and IT technology.