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Energy Networking Convergence Part 1 – The Journey From Serial to IP

This is the first of a four part series on the convergence of IT and OT (Operational Technologies)

Part 2 will cover the impact of the transition to IP on Physical Security and the convergence of Physical and Cyber Security.

Part 3 will discuss the convergence of IT and OT -- Operational Technology of all types outside the traditional realm of Information Processing.

Part 4 will look at how to actually make the transition to a converged IT/OT infrastructure and tips on overcoming the challenges.

Those of us in the Energy Industry know that the utilities segment is in transition. The network architecture, in particular,  is undergoing change -- change that will bring challenges as well as opportunities for both Cisco and our customers.

Almost every communication application started as point to point serial — including computer communications.  But the simple geometry problem of how many lines are needed to connect every vertex (node) of a polygon to every other vertex [ n(n-3)/2 if you’re curious ] shows that as the number of nodes grows, connecting each one to every other one quickly becomes infeasible.

HAK22620 - for webThe need to interconnect more and more devices lead to multi-drop or bus topologies and challenges of how to deal with sorting out who gets to talk when and the solutions of token passing, polling and TDM.

Circuit switching was a big breakthrough developed out of necessity as the number of telephone handsets exploded. Interestingly enough, look at the hierarchical topology of trunking and local switching and you may recognize analog similarity to NAT.

Initial application of networking often occurs as the use of Ethernet to replace serial communication with flat, layer-2 networks, to interconnect multiple nodes with polling and TDM used exactly as they were in serial systems.  That’s where most SCADA systems still live today and why there are relatively few monitored points, limited by how quickly the polling loop can be traversed.  Imagine trying to run the internet that way?

Fast forward and almost every industry and industrial application that started off as serial or circuit switched has migrated or is migrating to packet switched as IP packet technology has made astonishing progress along the price/performance curve.

High performance IP is now able to offer latency performance that used to require dedicated connections.  Along with IP have come the tools to manage, diagnose, repair and secure the communication network.  Relative to the billions of dollars invested by companies around the world in tools, security, management, etc. for IP, the investments being made in securing and improving serial or TDM are almost nonexistent.

Globally, Service Providers who built their industry on circuit switched analog and TDM are terminating those services as they move to complete their transition to IP.

Cisco continues to play a key role in transitioning serial/TDM technology to IP, helping customers get full benefit of the robust performance and security capabilities and features IP offers.  Customers who have received End of Service notices for Framerelay are scrambling to find alternatives and at the same time achieve regulatory compliance.

As Operation Technology groups outside of IT increasingly use IT Information & Communication Technology (ICT), they need the same capabilities as IT.

What does this mean for Cisco and our customers?

Relationships with the business, including the operations side of the business are key.  Budget is increasingly in the hands of the business rather than IT. As a result, Cisco and our customers’  IT departments are increasingly collaborating with the operational side of the business -- especially the OT, or ‘Operational Technologies’ part of our customer’s organization.

Cisco has specialized industry sales support teams in a group called CVA (Cisco Value Acceleration) Group, which I’m a part of, as well as Cisco Advanced Services and other Cisco Business Units (especially the IOTG, or Internet of Things Group) along with groups such as the Cisco Global Industries Center of Expertise (GICE) to understand the trends, business imperatives and compelling events creating opportunity with customers.

If you’d like to know more about these groups, Read More »

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Demystifying Multi-layer Convergence and SDN at OFC/NFOEC 2014

By Leonard Luna, Senior Marketing Manager, Cisco Service Provider Solutionsleonard_luna

If it’s Spring, then it is time for OFC/NFOEC – the world’s leading event for advancing optical solutions (March 9-13).  Cisco will, once again, have a strong presence, including our largest booth ever (booth 4359), at this year’s event being held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.  Building upon the industry wide dialog around multi-layer convergence and SDN, we will showcase the Evolved Programmable Network (EPN), the Cisco Network Convergence Systems (NCS) and our highly innovative CMOS photonics technology – CPAK.

EPN is the foundational layer for Cisco Open Networking Environment ( ONE) strategy and is the natural evolution of the IP next generation network (IP NGN). It is designed specifically to leverage the opportunities presented by the Internet of Everything (IoE). It optimizes the delivery of multi-service solutions over service provider networks.  An EPN increases service provider revenue opportunities, lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) and supercharges service agility.  One of the key elements of Cisco’s EPN architecture is the Cisco NCS product family featuring the NCS 6000 Series IP Router, the NCS 4000 Series Converged Packet Transport platform and the NCS 2000 agile ROADM platform.  A key differentiator to Cisco’s EPN is our growing portfolio of CPAK transceivers delivering never before seen levels of density, power savings and flexibility to Cisco’s portfolio of data center switches, IP routing and transport solutions.

At OFC/NFOEC, Cisco will showcase Read More »

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Cisco Bonjour helps make beautiful music at University of Nevada, Las Vegas

February 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm PST

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), founded in 1957, is located in the heart of showbiz industry in Las Vegas. The school offers higher education programs ranging from business, engineering, fine arts and music, and science, and professional schools such as dental medicine and law.

The school’s mascot, Hey Reb, was recently featured on Hulu’s “Behind the Mask,” and you may recognize the Southern Gym during the dance scene between Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret Olsson in the movie Viva Las Vegas.

With over 24,000 unique WLAN users per day, 1.1 gigabytes of throughput per second, and more than 50 wireless access locations across campus providing WLAN coverage, this educational institute demands a massive Wi-Fi network.

In the previous blog, we highlighted some of the Bonjour enhancements of the 7.5 software release and the deployment of Bonjour at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, a K-12 school. In this blog, we will describe details about UNLVs WLAN deployment, how they use Bonjour services, and give you an insight into rapid pace of innovation necessary to support this technology in the education arena. Read More »

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IPAM is Essential to Network Management

By Tim Rooney, Director, Product Management, BT Diamond IP

The discipline of network management has long offered technical and business benefits to organizations with the centralization of the monitoring, control, and provisioning of distributed network elements such as routers and application or services databases. These benefits include holistic management of a network from a centralized point where appropriate resources can be leveraged for troubleshooting, resolution, and escalation. The centralized “top down” approach also lends itself well to supporting structured network change control procedures.

It’s a small leap to consider DNS and DHCP servers as network elements in need of network management within an IP network, as they provide critical enabling services to clients or subscribers. While not in-band or on the data path for user IP traffic like traditional network elements, DNS and DHCP servers provide foundational services required to make such in-band data paths possible and usable, including automated IP address assignment and simpler IP application navigation.

But one cannot manage Read More »

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The Programmable Network: IP and Optical Convergence

Someday soon, personal sensors, wearable gadgets, and embedded devices and services may make today’s PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones look quaint by comparison. But as the Internet of Everything­ (IoE) ─ with its diverse array of devices accessing a plethora of existing and new services ─ continues to rapidly evolve, user friendly interfaces mask growing complexity within networks. An article on today’s digital designers in the September 2013 issue of Wired captured how the focus is now “creating not products or interfaces but experiences, a million invisible transactions” and that “even as our devices have individually gotten simpler, the cumulative complexity of all of them is increasing.”

Which inevitably takes us behind the curtain to the exciting challenge of building hyper-efficient programmable networks using virtualization, the cloud, Software Defined Networking (SDN), and other technologies, architectures, and standards.

So far, this blog series on The Programmable Network has described various new and exciting capabilities leading to greater efficiencies and cost benefits. We’ve shared with you how you can now:

  • Visualize and control traffic using path computation via a network controller
  • Monitor and optimize traffic flows across network connections
  • Order services through an easy-to-use online portal which then launches automated service creation tasks

These capabilities are all Read More »

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