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Trends, Care-abouts and Industrial Networks: Guy Denis – Cisco Insiders Series

October 31, 2011
at 10:23 am PST

About the ‘Cisco Insiders Series’ -- You won’t find product pre-announcements, insider trading tips or other things we can’t tell you about here! You will find, however, nuggets of information from provoking thought leaders that you would easily miss if we didn’t bring them to you here. Get a competitive blog-edge by reading this series!

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Guy Denis recently.  He has been one of those instrumental in forming Cisco’s approach to Industrial Automation – both inside Cisco and for our customers. He’s been focused on how industrial processes can be improved with emerging technologies, and how the IT and plant-floor systems are converging to provide business and industrial process benefits.

Right now the Internet is abuzz about the Cloud and what it means for customers, suppliers, IT and Service Providers. A lot of buzz too about ‘The Internet of Things’, which talks about billions of devices on the network in a few years time. But you know me -- I wanted to move the conversation more to the factory. What’s clear is that the Cloud is not just for commercial and carpeted areas. It’s moving to the plant floor and beyond. Not just people and computers talking to each other, but machines talking to people and to other machines. So I wanted to learn more about how the network is evolving to cope with industrial automation and embrace the cloud from a machine perspective.

First off, I asked Guy what he thought of as the major trends emerging in industrial automation that he believed would impact the market for the next 10 years.

“The rapid proliferation & adoption of the IP based industrial network is providing industrial customers with the potential to synergistically link the shop floor with the top floor like never before, both in terms of hardware & software.

This new wave of interoperability is having far reaching impact on all aspects of the production cycle from R&D concepts to final product shipment, with greater visibility & transparency across all the phases of the production cycle.

There will be exponential growth progression in the deployment of intelligent Ethernet connected and web browsable control & instrumentation devices.

This together with associated relevant software will  provide increasingly readily available real time information to better enable for example, predictive remote maintenance.

The net result of this will be that many industries will  realistically be able to achieve the integrated CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) vision with the IP network as the enabling platform, supporting D2D (Device to Device), M2M (Machine to Machine) processes, Software, Server technology etc.

Secondly, the widespread use of wireless devices combined with mobile “tablets” will have a transformational effect on many industrial processes in terms of availability of data (everything available everywhere & at any time), with optimised supply chain interaction, operational effectiveness and worker collaboration.”

So the emphasis looks to be like more intelligence in the network providing more real-time functionality, combined with more mobile devices that help workers do their job.

So the Internet of things gets bigger? Yes says Guy, but that also has relevance & bearing on other concerns for many manufacturers”

I then asked Guy to comment on what is one of the current major front of mind concerns for IT and production systems today.

“Cyber attack on control systems is something manufacturers and utility organization are currently sensitized & potentially vulnerable to.

The impact of a cyber attack on a mission critical industrial system such as the recent Stuxnet virus on an Iranian nuclear power plant has clearly demonstrated this.  Deploying solutions & capability to safeguard industrial networks against this type of threat is something Cisco regards as of paramount importance.”

Well, I know Cisco has a number of security solutions to help manufacturers protect their systems, both in the wired and wireless networking areas, but I wanted to delve more into the areas in industry where the network is bringing operational benefits – i.e.  the business benefits Guy was seeing coming from industrial networks that were making bottom line impact. Guy responded:

“Well, there are many.  One area where better information granularity & visibility into “high cost” operations in industrial environments can make a real difference to bottom line operational savings is in energy management.  Introducing Ethernet & IP connectivity to high running cost devices such as large (eg 75KW) motors in the plant & monitoring them using IP connected variable speed drives can significantly reduce the energy bill with a fast ROI time.”

As we’ve seen in previous posts by Chet Namboodri and Mark Wylie, that energy aspect is a recurring theme these days with Industrial manufacturers. With more than 50% of the world’s energy consumed to produce and deliver goods, that seems a problem that is effecting the whole world.

“Exactly” replied Guy.

You can find out more about Cisco’s Industrial Automation at Cisco Live 2012 in the UK – you’ll also be able to meet up in person with Guy at the event, so come and introduce yourself!

Thanks to Guy for spending the time on our blog today. Let us know what you think of his views – is he right? What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment. Thanks for reading this – come back and see other Cisco Insider Interviews in the future.

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