Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cisco targets rugged IoT at oil refineries

Steve Rogerson
June 18, 2019

Cisco is introducing rugged networking equipment to bring IoT technology to oil refineries, chemical plants and mines, the company announced at last week’s Cisco Live event in San Diego.
Cisco unveiled rugged industrial switches, access points and routers designed to withstand extended exposure to water, dust and other extreme environmental conditions.
Chemical plants, oil refineries and mines represent some of the most challenging work environments on Earth. In these industries, connectivity and data are business-critical, with production downtime impacting the bottom line and worker safety. Cisco is thus introducing networking technology purpose-built to withstand the rigors of the harshest of environments while providing IT and OT teams with intent-based networking capabilities to scale and accelerate IoT projects.
The IoT innovations include:

  • Ruggedised access: Catalyst heavy-duty switches and access points are designed to withstand extended exposure to dust, water and other extreme environmental conditions. These IP67 rated products are managed by Cisco DNA Center, providing universal management, network assurance and segmentation across campus, branch and operational technology (OT) environments.
  • SD-WAN for IoT edge: The latest Cisco industrial router now supports Cisco SD-WAN capabilities to connect remote locations securely and elevate applications performance.
  • Securing OT environments: Cisco recently announced its intent to acquire Sentryo to provide visibility into OT devices, allowing IT teams to collaborate and secure these sensitive networks. This includes devices that run critical infrastructure from electric utilities and oil refineries to manufacturing operations and distribution warehouses.
"A secure connection is the foundation for every IoT deployment," said Liz Centoni, senior vice president at Cisco. "By extending intent-based networking to the IoT edge, we are helping IT and OT teams work together to reduce operational complexity, boost the bottom line and improve worker safety." 
Intent-based networking represents a shift in the way networks are built and managed. Moving away from the manual, time-intensive methods by which networks are traditionally managed, these modern networks capture business intent and translate it into network policy. By bringing intent-based networking to IoT users, organisations gain the ability to scale in an automated way and the flexibility to connect their legacy and future infrastructure, such as with 5G, all while securely connecting it all with built-in and layered-on protection.
For the oil and gas industry, better insights mean improved machine uptime, predictive maintenance and reduced risk for workers. That's why Cisco and Emerson are working together to bring to market a joint offering that combines wireless networking with process control systems.
"By integrating the new Cisco heavy-duty access point with Emerson's next-generation Wireless Hart gateway, we are able to leverage sensor data from critical assets to eliminate blind spots, and improve productivity and safety of their operations," said Bob Karschnia, vice president for Emerson's automation business.