Suppose you already have a great OT asset management system. It automatically discovers the identity and configuration of your PLCs, RTUs, network switches, operator stations and so forth. Your engineers use this system as their central hub for documenting the company’s OT infrastructure, by attaching tags, documents, and other metadata to individual devices, networks, and distributed control systems. Could you ask for anything more? Certainly!
You determine that such an OT management system would deliver even more value if it would integrate with enterprise software such as IT CMDBs, service management applications, and even custom-built apps. You would want all of these being able to access all the information in the OT asset management system.
This is exactly what you can do with the REST API in the OT-BASE asset management platform. But before explaining how, let’s work through the terminology.
An API is an application program interface, which simply means that data can be accessed by software processes rather than only by humans. On one side of the API you have a server process, in our case the OT-BASE Asset Management Platform, and on the other side a client process, which can be ServiceNow, for example.
APIs used to be proprietary, arcane and cumbersome in the past, but web technology has changed the landscape completely. The undisputed standard for exchanging data between web applications is the REST interface, which is an acronym for Representational State Transfer. The important thing about REST is that it uses the HTTP protocol that all your web applications speak anyway. If you have ever taken a closer look at HTTP, you will know that every time you load a web page from the Internet, your browser issues an HTTP GET request to the server identified in the URL. In REST, an HTTP GET is used as well, but rather than returning HTML information for fancy display, the server returns data items in the JSON format.
Let’s check out what this looks like in OT-BASE. As a regular OT-BASE user, you access the asset inventory by simply entering the URL of the server where your OT-BASE Asset Center is running in your browser. The OT-BASE server will then respond with the HTML code for the specific view that you have requested.
For accessing the REST API in OT-BASE, we use that same base URL but append it with “/api/v1”, where the “v1” simply indicates the version number of the API. We also tell OT-BASE the specific resource that we want to access. We can access the hardware inventory by specifying “/devices”, which will output all the configuration data of the devices that we are authorized to see in JSON format, easily digestible by other applications.
The REST API in OT-BASE allows your enterprise applications to break through the OT barrier and consolidate workflows such as service management, lifecycle management, and vulnerability management. To learn more, watch this video.