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Unveiling Cisco Collaborative Operations and Secure Ops Solutions

July 24, 2014 at 10:32 am PST

Cyber security risk management and compliance for industrial control environments -- especially in the Oil and Gas Industry, and the ability to connect experts for mission critical communications and collaboration are key areas that Cisco is addressing with two new services-lead solutions.

We’re living in changing times. Cyber attacks are on the increase and critical infrastructures are under threat. Just finding oil and  extracting it economically is becoming increasingly difficult. These two factors are top-of-mind for the oil and gas executives I talk to. Whether it’s an Integrated Oil Company (IOC) like Royal Dutch Shell, or an Oil Services company like Halliburton, many companies are under pressure to secure their infrastructure to protect against cyber, geo-political or operational threats and reduce risks associated operational challenges.

You’ll remember from my recent post: High Energy at Cisco Live in San Francisco, where Alan Matula, EVP and CIO  of Shell talked to John Chambers at Cisco Live about how Shell and Cisco were partnering to secure critical infrastructure. Alan talked about how the changes in the oil and Gas industry -- in particular the new non-traditional methods (hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” and horizontal drilling) mean that hundreds, even thousands, of drill sites may be needed, rather than the more modest half dozen or so that were required in the past.

As the processes required become more complex, and the Internet of Everything enables improves workflows that were not possible in the past, organizations need more visibility into their business and need to have tools that will positively impact the bottom line by protecting against risks, improving efficiency and lowering site downtime.

That’s were the Cisco Secure Ops and Cisco Collaborative Operations solutions come in.

First off, let’s look at Secure Ops:

Greg Carter COS QuoteIt actually provides “Critical infrastructure security as-a-service” and uses a convenient service wrapper and attaches a set of service level agreements. What it does is support cyber security risk management and compliance for industrial control environments. It addresses risks using a combination of people, process and technology before, during and after a risk or security event takes place. It’s made up of tightly integrated Cisco and third party products and services.

  • It is designed to be “dropped in” to brownfield or greenfield environments and delivers unparalleled capabilities and security control mechanisms.
  • The integration extends into commercial arrangements with automation suppliers for services like qualified patch lists and anti-virus updates.

The business benefits are:

  • Business leaders gain situational awareness for security maturity and compliance within various parts of the business.

  • Site leadership and management benefit from reduced management complexity and increased consistency across individual sites, leading to optimized operational costs.

  • Site technical leaders are provided with a technical solution to help manage security and compliance on a per-site basis as well as valuable tools to increase it through standardized interfaces and capabilities

  • Corporate risk and compliance leaders receive near real time information on operational risks associated with cyber-security threats and adherence to compliance policies.

Here’s more about the Cisco Collaborative Operations Solution:

Phil Papatz SOS QuoteIt’s actually a collaborative portal that combines voice, video and data collaboration in a single, secure view. It’s an ‘always-on’ style of collaboration that can bring in multiple technologies like Cisco Video Surveillance Manager; Cisco IPICS; landline; mobile; two-way radios and remote speaker integration; chat functionality; WebEx and multiple application sharing. All on a single pane of glass (well, in an ops room that could be a huge wall screen!).

What it’s designed for is operations personnel working in distributed networks and lets remote experts help guide operations in real-time, afford greater reach per expert resource and minimize miscommunication driving faster, better decision making. It can combine multiple feeds, and individuals and feeds can ‘come and go’ as required during a collaboration period. In the case of an Oil Services Company, that could be weeks or months!

The business benefits for this solution are:

  • Platform enables communication between stakeholders at all times.

  • Remote Experts can be instantly connected with on-site personnel using voice, video or data.

  • Solution creates opportunities for workforce development and training, safety improvements, and risk mitigation

Whilst related solutions, many customers may start implementing one before the other depending on their particular circumstances. Remember this is largely a services offering, so customers have the comfort of knowing that Cisco, along with our partners, are ‘bringing this together’ for them to address key business issues.

There’s a lot more information at the cisco.com site here if you care to take the time to peruse.Also, you can read the Press Release here: Cisco Delivers Two New Industry Solutions to Protect Against Security Threats and Enhance Collaborative Decision Making.

What do you think?

 

 

 

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Security and Collaboration – Top of mind for IT and OT (Operational Technologies) professionals

During the past ENTELEC event held in Houston, I had the opportunity to chat with Shawn Birch – Partner Development Consultant At Tait Communications to ask him about his impressions of the shows and what would be the key care-abouts of IT people during this Oil and Gas event.

Shawn Birch in the Cisco ENTELEC booth

Shawn Birch in the Cisco ENTELEC booth

Tait Communications is a multinational global radio communications company with headquarters based in Christchurch, New Zealand. The company has offices in 20 countries and employs approximately 1000 staff.  Tait develops voice and data radio technologies, exporting about 95% of products from its Christchurch manufacturing base.

Tait specializes in designing, deploying, supporting, and servicing complete mission-critical unified communication solutions in industries such as Oil and Gas and it is a Global Advance technology partner of Cisco around collaboration solutions and #IoT.

Here it is a short transcript of the things I found very relevant from our conversation:

ENTELEC ClaraA 2 compressed

Cisco booth during ENTELEC

From your experience and point of view what were the key concerns and topics of interest of the customers during ENTELEC?  “Convergence of voice, video and data and secure networks for digital oilfield.”

What did we showcase together in the show floor and the key benefits for the customers? “Tait showcased Unified Critical Communication two- way radio solutions integrated together as one through the power of Cisco IPICS (Interoperability and Collaboration System). This is a robust solution that enables and allows improvements in operational efficiency without compromising security. The approach of this solution is to protect the investment in legacy systems and migrate to the next generation of critical communications”

What was the overall reaction of the customers to our demo/presentation?  “Excited about the opportunity to blend state of the art Tait two-way radio solutions into the secure umbrella of the Cisco network in support of Unified Critical Communications with multi-modal integration of PTT, (Push to Talk) technology from anywhere, anytime and with any device.”

What will be a key takeaway/final thought you would like to share with our blog-readers? “Be prepared for the future, the IoT solutions will transform the way the people do business in digital oilfields as we continue to merge technologies trough unified critical communications.”

Cisco Focused on the same care-abouts: Security and Collaboration. You can read more about ENTELEC from Peter Granger (Heads up on What You’ll See) here, and Roberto De La Mora here (What Does it Mean to You?) . During the event Cisco showcased two new use case solutions as well,  but those topics deserve a whole blog. We will keep you posted!!!….

 

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Cisco at ENTELEC – Heads up on what you’ll see

April 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm PST

Entelec 2014

 

Entelec info 2014Look out for Cisco at the upcoming presence at ENTELEC 2014. We’ll have both Exhibition space with demonstrations and a speaking slot.

ENTELEC is the Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association focusing on communications and control technologies used in Oil & Gas and Electric Utility companies.

The ENTELEC 2014 Conference & Expo runs from May 20 -- to May 22, 2014, and this spring conference is being held in the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston Texas, one of the US major Oil and Gas centers.

Here’s advance warning of the Cisco presentation and booth.

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.:

Collaboration in O&G Operations: A Study into E&P Operational Behavior

- Cisco, Room 332B

And Exhibition details:

Cisco Systems, Inc.  Stand 231

Duarte 1 2-to-1-Ratio-smallCollaboration in Oil and Gas Operations is far more than just people using video and communications tools to talk to each other. With the advent of the Internet of Everything (IoE) that involves People, Process, Data and Things, operations staff at all levels of the organization expect to be able to collaborate with experts, supervisors, field workers and third parties using real time data feeds from videos and sensors, and have visibility to M2M communications, as well as to advanced modelling and analytical  tools, whilst collaborating! Cisco is already well known for its field virtual expert enabling collaboration technologies (more info here: Cisco Field Expert Collaboration for Oil and Gas At-A-Glance PDF -- 1.44 MB). With that you can get immediate, face-to-face access to experts with on-demand video and communications tools. Now we’re taking it one step further… Read More »

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Introducing Clara Alvarado to the Energy Blog

claraalvaradoIt is with great pleasure I introduce you to another industry and technology thought-leader from Cisco, Clara Alvarado.

Clara Alvarado is Cisco’s Solutions Marketing Manager for Applications Enablement and Management portfolio for the Internet of Things group, with an industry bias towards Oil and Gas. In that position Clara develops the strategy and requirements for the programs and initiatives needed to successfully execute on the strategy, ensure the alignment of the channels, sales, technical operations and support teams, and serves as a liaison between Cisco’s IoT Business Group, customers, partners and sales teams.

Clara has been in Cisco in various executive roles for 7 years, having joined Cisco in 2007 as Marketing Operations Manager for Latin America. She then moved to lead the Collaboration Solution portfolio in Emerging Markets and recently moved to corporate marketing where she has been responsible for strategy, sales enablement and demand generation projects around cloud and joint marketing activities with strategic ecosystem partners.

Prior to Cisco, Clara Alvarado held several roles in marketing and business development in companies such as Lucent Technology, Avaya and Emerson Electric (Emerson are a strong partner of Cisco, we won’t talk about the other two!). She holds a BS in Electronic Engineer form Universidad Javeriana, a MBA from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia and a Competitive Strategic Marketing Diploma from Wharton Business School.

Welcome Clara!

 

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Ferguson Group Ltd keeps an Eye on Operations with Cisco Physical Security

April 11, 2014 at 9:21 am PST

I remember growing up in the UK years ago during the UK’s  ‘North Sea Oil Boom’. It was a time of great excitement and opportunity for the nation. A whole industry was developed to deal with offshore exploration to ‘bring the energy home’.

It was Aberdeen’s local ‘moon landing’ event -  just five months after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the North Sea oil fields were discovered off the east coast of Scotland. Certainly parts of Scotland, Aberdeen especially, saw an uptick in employment from the gloomy ’60s, and the economy changed from rural farming, fishing and textiles to include a more industrial oil and gas setting. Employment, property prices and investment in the City boomed.

Video Surv. from Ferguson Case StudyFerguson is a great Scottish name, but the founder is a great example of how folks were attracted  from outside Scotland (founder Bill Ferguson Jr. is an American) to help further the oil industry in Scotland. Today, Ferguson Group are a key part of the Aberdeen economy, as a leading suppliers of containers, accommodations, and workspace modules for the offshore energy industry (now worldwide).

I thought I’d share how Ferguson conquered a business challenge -- namely protecting high-value equipment and, at the same time, use a standardized system and process worldwide whilst keeping up with industry security standards.

As Graham Cowperthwaite said in a recent article: “For years our headquarters in Scotland relied on an analog video security system”. Graham is director of operations at Ferguson Group, and went on to say “That system wasn’t meeting our needs in terms of image quality and remote accessibility.” He added: “For example, our board members are often traveling between bases, and want to have the ability to check back on facilities from any networked location, even from an iPad. We simply couldn’t do that with an analog system.”

So Ferguson switched from a an analog security system to an IP-based solution, from Cisco. And it wasn’t just cameras and door hardware. They also needed to consider the security and reliability of the network on which camera images and access history would be transmitted and stored.

 ”We looked at other physical security offerings on the market, but nothing came close to Cisco in terms of comprehensiveness,” says Graham Cowperthwaite. “Only Cisco could provide us with a total combination of Cisco IP video cameras, door readers, firewalls, and routers, all available globally with the highest levels of vendor support. We were already a Cisco house in terms of our network infrastructure, and the interoperability of these solutions fit in perfectly with our goals for standardization.”

Ferguson Group now relies on the Cisco® Video Surveillance Manager to monitor its entire facility in Aberdeenshire, including doors, buildings, and the many valuable assets in the company’s storage yard. Supervisors on the Ferguson network can access live, high-quality footage on a laptop or mobile device. They can even review recorded footage as necessary. This all runs on an integrated Cisco architecture (based on Cisco Desktop Virtualization with VMware (VXI), running on the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS®), for the techies amongst you!).

The business results? Read More »

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