ISA publishes new book that examines the importance of and rapidly growing demand for specialists trained in mission-critical operations

  • January 11, 2018
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

The International Society of Automation (ISA) today announces it has published a new book that highlights the increasing industry importance of and growing career opportunities in mission-critical operations fields.

The term "mission critical" applies to any activity, system or equipment-generally within the 16 critical infrastructure sectors-whose failure could result in serious consequences, such as loss of life, harm to the environment or significant financial loss through production impact or plant damage.

Mission-Critical Operations Primer by Steve Mustard, an independent automation consultant and a globally recognized expert in critical infrastructure operations, defines the essential components and concepts of mission-critical operations, and explores the influence and role of:

  • Standards and regulations
  • System and network technologies
  • Operational activities and processes
  • Safety and physical security considerations
  • Risk management methodologies
  • Emergency response preparation and execution

"In writing this book, I wanted to provide a comprehensive overview of all key aspects of mission-critical operations and provide some guidance for those looking to start a career in mission-critical organizations as an operator or technician," says Mustard, who serves as a subject-matter expert of ISA and its affiliate association, the Automation Federation. "Mission-critical specialists are needed to address the many risks and challenges in such areas as network design, control system security, control room operations and alarm management."

Mustard points to the 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine's power grid, which left 225,000 people without electricity for up to six hours, in the depth of winter. Because of failures in network design, security monitoring and incident response, the grid operator was forced to resort to manual operations for months after the event, incurring significant additional costs. More recently, in November 2017, a cyberattack targeted a critical infrastructure organization in the Middle East, resulting in a plant shutdown.

"There's an acute shortage of suitably qualified and experienced individuals to work in mission-critical systems design and operation," he reports. "If we are to keep our businesses and our critical infrastructure safe, we will need a new generation of specialists who understand the importance of the phrase 'failure is not an option.'"

For more details, read the informative author interview
For greater perspective on the value and significance of the new book as well a more detailed overview of its content, read the Q&A feature with author.

About ISA

The International Society of Automation ( is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.

ISA owns, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (, an association of non-profit organizations serving as "The Voice of Automation." Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute ( and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (