One thing about Hannover Messe that is unmistakable? The huge SCALE of the event. Thousands of exhibitors. Hundreds of thousands of the world’s smartest people in manufacturing. A massive exhibition footprint.

Scale is something that is very familiar to us in IoT. Scale sits at the intersection of possibility and reality. What starts as a great idea for an IoT manufacturing innovation often fails quickly when stress tested for scale. Because scale is more than the sheer numbers of IoT devices and connections.

Scale presumes two very key things: security and availability. Without those, any initiative will likely fail.

Key tenets of IoT scale

Let’s start with security. Security is one of those words that means different things to different people. Ask someone in IT and they’ll talk about connecting users, devices, data, applications. Protecting the network and shortening the time to detection and remediation. Ask someone on the manufacturing floor and they’ll see it completely differently.

What I’ve heard this past week is that security is a subset of safety – worker safety, plant safety, environmental safety, etc. And when I ask manufacturing what needs to be ‘secured,’ I hear over and over that it’s not the network – it’s the recipes and the processes on manufacturing floor inside the PLCs. That’s where some of the most critical intellectual property of the business sits and where the revenue is generated. That’s what really needs to be secured.

The conversation goes similarly when I discuss availability. Availability in the manufacturing world means Zero Down Time. That doesn’t mean just the network. It means that network plus the supply chain, the entire plant floor, all of the equipment… every aspect of the operations, around the clock and around the world. And what’s key to that availability? Keeping the machines up and running and using technology like IoT to enable predictive maintenance – so that any disruptions can be avoided.

IoT in action

To deliver IoT at scale, you have to start with a secure and reliable network.

That’s something that we at Cisco live and breathe every day as the #1 provider of Industrial Networks globally.* What does IoT at scale look like? Let’s take a look at one of our customers that I’m sure you’ve heard of – Zeiss.

As a world leader in the optics and optoelectronics industry, Zeiss delivers precision across everything they do. Working with Zeiss, we’ve created a smart factory – where they’re leveraging our industrial networking solutions to securely and reliably deliver the power of IoT. What’s in a Smart Factory? Industrial switches and routers to connect the factories. System management to monitor and control the machine connections. Plus, the secure delivery of machine data to analytics applications at the edge of the network. One solution. One smart factory. Delivering value for IT and Operations alike. All designed so Zeiss can predict performance, protect uptime, and deliver that precision they have built a reputation on.

The digital factory, delivered

Another thing I learned at Hannover Messe? Sicherheit. I love the idea that one word captures the concepts of security and safety. At Cisco, we know that those two ideas are inseparable for our manufacturing customers. We’ve been delivering multi-layered approach where security is built into every layer of our IoT stack – from the networking hardware to the operating software and the edge computing apps.

We’re just at the beginning of this next industrial revolution. Powered by technology that delivers a reliable and secure network at scale. A digital factory where you can meet the production requirements of today while driving new business innovations. Things like changing your product line on the fly. More quickly introducing new products. Modelling on digital twins so that tomorrow’s innovation can move forward without disruption to today’s operations.

At Cisco, we’re delivering the digital factory as a trusted partner for hundreds of manufacturing customers – and more than 50,000 customers across all industries, around the world.


* Industrial Edge Networking Components Report – 2019, IHS Markit



Liz Centoni

Executive Vice President

Chief Customer Experience Officer