Industrial edge networks are everywhere factories, ports and terminals, roads and crossroads, mines, and even vineyards. They connect people, applications and industrial assets such as sensors, actuators, industrial control systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces, robots, etc. These edge networks are the basis of large-scale digital transformation programs that make operations and assets more efficient, introduce new services and revenue sources, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.
An all-inclusive industrial network portfolio
A complete industrial network solution requires many types of hardware and software, including network infrastructure (routers, switches, and gateways), management software, and cybersecurity. Our industrial network portfolio includes everything you need to build a scalable, efficient and secure industrial network. We have been perfecting our industry-leading technology for several years and I am pleased that analyst firm Omdia reports that Cisco Dominates All Segments of the Industrial Networking Market.
Indispensable for industrial network solutions
Industrial switches and routers share certain requirements with enterprise devices. Performance, reliability and safety are essential. They must be easy to manage with efficient management tools. (Peripheral locations like factories and utility substations typically do not have highly trained IT staff.) Industrial switches and routers also have unique requirements, such as resistance to harsh environmental conditions and uptime. in form factors such as DIN rail or wall mounting as simple rack mounts to accommodate tight spaces. here is a good blog summarizing what is different about industrial devices.
Five trends in industrial networking
In Omdia’s new report, Industrial edge networking components: 2021 analysis, of which we can find an extract here, Omdia points out several trends behind the growth of industrial networks.
1 – IT-OT convergence. Successful industrial networks are a joint project for IT and OT. IT provides the skills and tools for network management and cybersecurity. OT understands the role of each asset in production. How they should connect to the network, how they should talk to each other, how to take them safely offline, etc. Therefore, IT and OT must work together for a successful outcome. Cisco enables this partnership with a shared set of management and security tools. For example read this presentation of the solution to see how industrial networks can benefit from this convergence.
2 – Convergence at the edge of the cloud. Businesses combine cloud computing and advanced computing, using each technology for different types of decisions. Consider an urgent decision, such as rerouting an autonomous mining vehicle when the camera detects an obstacle. Make the decision at the periphery industrial routers functioning Cisco Edge Intelligence the software avoids delays as data moves to the cloud and the decision comes back. (Look at this blog on edge Intelligence in oil and gas.) On the other hand, network devices can also collect relevant data from network and connected endpoints to send to cloud for decisions or analysis requiring high computing power or storage.
3 – Cybersecurity. More than 50% of manufacturing companies suffered a breach between 2017 and 2020, according to Omdia, and 40% of the breaches affected production. To protect operations, we recommend that you create and apply a consistent security policy on IT and OT networks. We make it easy with our complete industrial cybersecurity solution, Cisco Industrial Security. For more I recommend this blog on securing industrial networks.
4 – Visibility. Having an accurate inventory of all your industrial assets and monitoring them for potential problems earlier allows you to act faster, ideally before they affect operations. OT teams can detect abnormal behavior of the device with Cisco CyberVision. It provides visibility to connected assets to create inventory, continuously monitors the behavior of assets to assess their security positions, and helps operational teams resolve issues to ensure production continuity, resiliency and security. Cyber ââVision is integrated into our industrial networking equipment.
IT teams have better visibility into the network and can keep an eye on its performance with NetFlow and the telemetry data our devices provide with network management tools such as Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard, Cisco IoT Field Network Director, Cisco vManage, Where Cisco DNA Center. Discovering problems early gives you a chance to fix them before they turn into problems.
5 – New technologies and open standards. Omdia promotes 5G wireless for reliable, low latency communications in industrial environments. Our industrial routers support open standards and have a replaceable communication module. So, if 5G is not available in your area today, you can start with another wireless module (3G, 4G LTE private or public, etc.) and swap the module later. All of these connectivity options can be managed from a unique dashboard.
To Omdia’s top 5 trends fueling the growth of industrial networks, I’ll add another: reliability. Downtime in industrial environments isn’t just a nuisance. It can decimate revenues and interrupt critical infrastructure services. We have designed our industry networking products with resilience in mind. Our switches use high availability protocols to keep the network running without downtime in the event of a component failure. Our routers have redundant components. For example, a utility introducing advanced metering infrastructure and demand response might configure its routers with multiple transport modules (e.g. MPLS, broadband, 4G LTE or 5G and FirstNet) and with two SIM cards to match. connect to different cellular providers.
Go to the next stage
Omdia expects industrial networks to continue to expand for the foreseeable future. To achieve your goals faster, discover our solutions to make your industrial networks innovative, secure, reliable and intelligent.
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