It was a pleasure to connect with so many customers and partners at Cisco Live EMEA in Amsterdam last month. We were excited to announce several innovations – including new services in cloud-based Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard. These innovations are game changing for industrial organizations seeking to accelerate their digital transformation, enhance operational efficiency, and improve customer experiences. Our announcements included:
- Enhanced Secure Equipment Access (SEA) service increases flexibility for the remote management and maintenance of industrial assets.
- New Cisco Cyber Vision service provides visibility into the security posture of industrial networks.
- New industrial wireless service supports our industrial wireless series devices when operating in Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul.
In this blog we will discuss how organizations can maintain remote connected assets at scale with Secure Equipment Access in IoT Operations Dashboard.
Many industrial organizations need to manage equipment in very diverse locations in order to gain the full benefits of digitization. This is top of mind for our customers and partners. Their operations are spread across entire regions and different countries. And the equipment they’re deploying likely comes from a variety of manufacturers and may have been installed at different times. Industrial equipment – from roadside cameras and LiDAR cameras to signaling systems and more – frequently requires specialized technical support from their respective manufacturers for upgrades and troubleshooting.
As the number of assets grows complexity increases. Onsite network and equipment maintenance often require significant resources: the time it takes to travel to site and identify which assets need an upgrade plus the costs of getting to those sites. More time and expense are required to secure the specialized resources who can handle the upgrade or resolve an outage.
Providing connectivity to industrial assets in remote locations is the first step for digitizing industrial environments. Cisco’s IoT portfolio provides the support required to connect industrial assets using fixed, wireless, and cellular access. And IoT Operations Dashboard, a cloud-based platform of OT services, enables the deployment and management of Cisco industrial routers and now industrial wireless backhaul.
However, as more assets are connected, customers need control over how internal and external workers are accessing these assets. Many of our discussions with customers are about the need for more control over their remote access capabilities. In many cases vendors may be using different methods of access, without customer oversight or control. For more on why this matters, check out this blog on the Oldsmar Cyber Attack.
With the newly enhanced SEA service in IoT Operations Dashboard, it now becomes possible to securely handle configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting activities for assets connected to industrial routers remotely. In other words, what used to incur significant expense and time can now be completed without a site visit, and with visibility and control! Customers love the fact that SEA can provide centralized remote access for their vendors – under their own control! And with enterprise grade security controls, for example Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Single Sign On (SSO) including Active Directory (AD) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
How it works
SEA provides a single service that enterprise IT network managers can use to enable their operational technology (OT) experts to configure, maintain, and troubleshoot assets on the industrial network easily and securely.
OT workers can set parameters to define which internal and external teams can access which assets, when and for what purpose:
- When a device on an offshore wind farm stops working, it becomes possible to diagnose – and even fix – the issue remotely.
- When there’s an upgrade that affects connected cameras across a massive bus fleet, the camera manufacturer can implement the upgrade remotely – without technicians physically boarding every vehicle.
- When there’s a need to configure equipment at the roadside or at roadway intersections, those configurations can be set up and orchestrated remotely. The same is true of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure – even when charging stations span multiple locations across a wide geographic area.
These activities can be carried out using just a web browser or a user application on the workstation through a direct connection to the industrial asset. Configuration files can be downloaded, and log files collected, easily. Customers are seeing the benefits: They save thousands of dollars per site in truck rolls and can easily control and oversee the access to connected industrial assets.
In short, SEA in Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard simplifies remote operations for anyone who manages equipment at the roadside or roadway intersections, on solar or wind farms, at EV charging infrastructure or across mass transit systems, for example. It dramatically simplifies and streamlines secure maintenance of connected assets while offering the flexibility, security, and scalability of a cloud-based platform.
We’ll be taking a closer look at this service in our upcoming webinar, ‘How do you enable operations team to centrally manage remote access to industrial assets securely and at scale?’ on March 23. Register today – it’s the first step to faster, simpler industrial IoT asset maintenance.