Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cisco targets utilities with IoT offerings

Steve Rogerson
February 18, 2015

Cisco has announced products aimed at expanding industrial use cases for the IoT for organisations such as utilities, oil, gas and energy companies, and municipalities. The Industrial Operations Kit and Industrial Ethernet 4000 (IE 4000) series switches provide networking options to support the growth of IoT applications and unlock the business value of IoT and increased connectivity.
 
"The IE 4000 and Industrial Operations Kit demonstrate how Cisco is taking the lead in bringing IoT capabilities to customers of all sizes,” said Kip Compton, vice president of IoT systems and software for Cisco. “The market is demanding new infrastructure capabilities, and Cisco's leadership in gigabit switching technologies and comprehensive, end-to-end field network deployment offerings puts us in a unique position to help organisations build out long term strategies that address the challenges of an IoT environment. We have developed these offerings to give customers the ability to accelerate their IoT innovations."
 
Demand is growing for a quick and simple way to deploy field area network (FAN) pilots, as well as reduce the cost of deploying a secure network infrastructure for medium and small size deployments. To help users start deploying FAN services, Cisco developed the virtual Industrial Operations Kit, based on the Connected Grid Network Management System. Virtualising secure network services on a single unified computing server, the kit can be deployed in a matter of days. It helps create efficient, secure and affordable industrial architectures for small to midsize organisations and large field area network pilots.
 
The kit provides more levels of manageability and control for services such as smart utility grids, roads, rails, airports and fleets by managing up to 300 industrial routers and 250,000 RF mesh endpoints with one server. It includes a single head-end router, bundled with Cisco Prime access registrar software for authentication, authorisation and accounting, and the Connected Grid Network Management System with embedded services routers for zero-touch deployment.
 
Industrial organisations are looking to scale and increase the amount of power over Ethernet (PoE) required by new devices and applications. To meet these requirements, the IE 4000 is said to be the industry's first 40Gbit/s Gigabit Ethernet switch with high bandwidth and low-latency network connectivity. It brings real-time connectivity and enterprise intelligence to harsh industrial environments.
 
The switch is a flexible and scalable IoT platform, allowing organisations to future-proof networks by meeting the increased bandwidth and PoE requirements of industrial applications. On a Din rail compliant form factor, it can improve uptime and performance of industrial assets and increases operational safety and efficiency by providing real-time information about the endpoints on the network.
 
It has up to 20 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 40Gbit/s switching capacity for high speed and throughput devices and low-latency applications such as PLCs, high-speed wireless AP and HD IP video cameras. In-line power is available for industrial devices (IP cameras, IP phones, badge readers and 802.11ac wireless APs) throughout an industrial floor, allowing for movement of these devices as needed without an overhaul of an electrical system. The company’s end-to-end TrustSec allows device and data authentication and policy settings on the network.
 
"Simplicity is key,” said Jeff Carkhuff, vice president of global marketing for electricity at Washington-based Itron. “The Industrial Operations Kit allows us to offer a simplified option for our customers who are looking for turnkey, small- to mid-sized smart grid installations. The solution shortens the time to deployment and gives customers a way to centrally manage their field area network without compromising security. With the Cisco Industrial Operations Kit, we are able to offer our customers more choices to match their specific needs, giving them an easy path to more IoT-friendly environments."