Cisco unveils catalyst for 5G at industrial IoT edge

Communications and services giant enhances portfolio of internet of things routers to unite edge networks and scale IoT deployments in factory and production environments

Cisco has launched a new portfolio of  industrial routers from its Catalyst range to extend the network to the edge with what it says is the flexibility, security and scalability needed for internet of things (IoT) success.

The company said that for most of its customers, the opportunity to improve efficiencies, the customer experience and business results is achieved with data generated at the edge. To back its claim, Cisco cited research from Gartner that calculated 75% of data will be generated outside of the datacentre in these edge environments.

But the company warned that typically, firms connect these environments in isolation, resulting in a fragmented network architecture, increased security vulnerabilities and isolated data. This means that as organisations accelerate digitisation, they need a way to simplify management and security across the network and edge devices.

Also, the need for data means organisations will increase the number of devices connected and the applications supported, and as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and new technologies proliferate, the edge must be able to quickly adapt.

Cisco said now is the time to prepare the edge to handle the future, and it is confident that the Catalyst routing portfolio delivers the scale, flexibility and security to adapt as use cases evolve and new applications are needed. It offers a broad choice of modules – including 5G and LTE for public or private cellular networks, public safety applications such as FirstNet, DSL and Wi-SUN – and upgradable storage. The portfolio also enables updating the CPU and battery in the field.

Featuring 5G capabilities, Cisco’s new portfolio is designed to enable organisations to run connected operations at scale, with choice of management tools suited for both IT and operations. The unified architecture is intended to simplify collaboration between IT and operations and streamlines their deployments from the enterprise to the edge.

The new routers are based on Cisco IOS XE to extend the enterprise network and SD-WAN to the edge. The unified architecture is said to provide IT and operational teams with consistent tools, eliminate training on new devices and technologies and improve security. The routers are modular and also offer built-in edge compute to develop business apps and drive decisions at the edge.

The portfolio uses Cisco Cyber Vision technology to provide visibility from enterprise to the edge. Cyber Vision embeds a sensor within an industrial network so security teams can detect threats to their industrial environments with operational context, enabling organisations to build a converged IT/operations threat management strategy.

“Managing the complexity of the industrial edge is challenging, beyond multiple use cases – each of which has different protocols, connectivity requirements, form factors and security,” said Kevin Prouty, group vice-president for IDC energy and manufacturing insights. “As a result, there are often multiple vendors involved, creating siloed networks, increased maintenance time and cyber security risks.

“Uniting this unruly edge can be the gateway to real transformation. Approaches like Cisco’s new industrial routing portfolio potentially simplifies the management of this complexity, securely and at scale.”

Vikas Butaney, VP/GM of Cisco IoT, added: “Our customers need our hardware to be in play for seven to 10 years in their operational environments. This modularity eliminates a rip-and-replace cycle to take advantage of 5G and whatever comes next. Now they can easily take advantage of new technologies and future-proof their networking investments.”

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