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Converge OT with IT for Business Benefits in Manufacturing

At the recent Cisco Live 2013 event in Orlando, I talked about the business value of converging operations technology (OT)—used for industrial automation systems—with IT business networks, in order to create more secure, end-to-end, standard communications and control.  Regarding business value of IT/OT convergence for machine builders/integrators and consequently their manufacturing customers, I referenced a case study involving Comau Group that Al Presher from DesignNews recently picked up in a blog entitled “Connectivity Enabling Smart Manufacturing.”

Automotive welding

Automotive welding

Comau is a leading supplier and partner for most global automakers, integrating welding and assembly lines that coordinate dozens of robots and ancillary automation across multiple stations.

The order-to-engineering sign-off cycle requires months and the consequent build and commissioning to full production adds many more months for a new or refreshed manufacturing line.

Multiple fieldbus protocols at the device level complicate both design and implementation, requiring more integration services—time and money—to make the system work.

By designing a converged IT/OT “Connected Machine” solution that utilizes IP-standards-based, off-the-shelf modularity with a network architecture validated for both business and controls topologies, Comau has been able to reduce engineering cycles and cut integration time by more than two-thirds.  Quoting an Engineering Manager from the company, “Installation, commissioning and debugging for 10 stations with 12-15 robots takes a couple days, rather than 1-2 weeks.” Read More »

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Delivering True Interop – The Difference Between Standards and Interoperability

In today’s business world IT professionals have to manage multiple collaboration applications in order to support an increasingly mobile workforce, flexible desktop solutions as well as collaboration and video rooms within their organizations. The collaboration environment is multi-endpoint and multi-vendor and reaches beyond enterprise boundaries – both B2B and B2C.

Compounding this IT challenge is the maturity of the collaboration market.  To date, companies have typically made significant investments and want to protect these investments as they move forward.  In particular, companies want to protect the quality of experience as they move to integrate across department, company and consumer boundaries, and as they look to expand their deployments.  This challenge grows more acute as the market rapidly evolves towards innovations such as H.265 and WebRTC.

Companies are looking for true interoperability with a seamless user experience that:

–         Allows them to benefit from new innovations

–         Interoperates with existing and future investments

–         And, works across company boundaries and functions in a diverse environment

Read More »

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Fibre Channel Standards, Speeds and Feeds, and Generation “X”

Okay, I have a confession to make.

I’ve been somewhat amused by Brocade’s recent “Gen 5″ Fibre Channel campaign. After all, the idea that “we’re going to simply call 16G Fibre Channel something other than 16G Fibre Channel and pretend that people will not figure out that it’s really just 16G Fibre Channel” is, well, amusing!

Read More »

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Who Cares About The Network When Collaborating?

You are probably thinking that the title of this blog seems a little bizarre given that I work at one of the largest networking companies in the world.  The truth is I felt compelled to write about the role of the network in today’s collaboration solutions because the importance of the network is not always apparent and well understood.

A good example of how network-enabled collaboration solutions can be used is that of a hospital or healthcare organization.  The hospital is only as good as its network of services, providers and the accompanying medical infrastructure that support the organization —  they all leverage each other in various different ways.  Physicians can take advantage of mind share and resources and have information at hand from different sources to make the right decisions.  This is what enables doctors and nurses to perform their best work and provide top quality care to the people they serve.

Collaboration technologies and solutions make that collaborative work environment a reality and aid in the diagnosis and care of patients — in some cases even being able to remotely provide medical care by a specialist that may be located half way around the world. The importance of the underlying network in this instance is critical to both physicians and patients alike.  How would the network have any effect on the use of interactive video in telemedicine? Well, let’s think of it from the experience point of view. What would the consequences be for a patient if the video stream they were using in a telemedicine consult was choppy or grainy and the doctor couldn’t get just the right view of the patient to make the right diagnosis?  Let’s just say I would not want to be the patient in this scenario.  A sub-par experience would be unacceptable because even minor details can have an enormous impact on a diagnosis or treatment plan. These collaborative exchanges are what ultimately give the patient the best experience and outcome possible for their individual treatment. A strong network foundation is critical to the delivery of the service and experience in this instance.

Collaboration technologies gaining significant traction in the enterprise today include streaming video, web conferencing and other forms of interactive and dynamic communications — known as rich media.  The reason for the uptick in their use is that they offer the most life like, “in-person” collaboration experiences possible today.  That is what people want and what ultimately drives them to be more engaged with one another.  As described above, the network is critical to the delivery of these types of media.   Not just any network architecture will suffice.  A network-based architecture optimized for rich media such as Cisco (medianet) provides the intelligent services needed in order to scale, optimize and enhance the performance of voice, video and data – all critical to the delivery of the collaboration experience.

What does this mean?  Read More »

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Cisco Gets a Gold Star for Tech-Policy and Standards Leadership

Innovation is often defined as novel technological invention. What is far less known about successful innovation efforts is that it takes a special breed of individual who possesses the rare combination of technical depth and sharp diplomatic skills. To be a successful innovator, one must be able to maneuver through political mine fields inherent with industry level leadership and standards bodies.

Cisco is fortunate to have such individuals who work in our Government Affairs, Compliance, SP Standards and Corporate Consulting Engineering teams and it makes the company a very formidable entity.

Our preparation for the ITU-T CTO meeting, the Global Standards Symposium and the World Telecommunications Standards Assembly, all held in Dubai this November, provide very recent and tangible examples of how Cisco is succeeding in this multi-dimensional world.

It is in such meetings that Read More »

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