Before coming to Cisco, I worked as CTO for an irrigation system manufacturer. We were building a cloud-based commercial irrigation system and we needed an improved ERP system for the back-office transactions. My goal was to move us from the on-premise system that was architected when Ronald Reagan was president to a new cloud-based system. However, the stability of our Internet connection at the plant was a significant barrier to this type of change.
One of my first days on the new job, our internet access at the factory was down and we blamed it squarely on our ISP. They denied any issues with the service. One evening after everyone had left the building, I took a walk through the factory and into the engineering lab. There I discovered a closet with a cobweb of Ethernet cables connected to three unmanaged 6-port switches and a wifi router – all most certainly purchased at the nearby Best Buy. We later discovered that one of our employees had plugged a VoIP (Voice over IP) phone into one of those switches near her desk and created a network loop that took the entire plant network offline.
This type of issue is all too common in the typical factory. Most factories are not Internet of Things or IoT ready. In the network, many companies have delivered on basic Ethernet connectivity and may actually have managed switches; however, they have not connected the IT and operational- technology networks or deployed the network management tools and technologies to be truly “plug and play.”
Typical factory wireless deployments are isolated from the central network and are not location ready. Finally, security in the factory is typically limited to an industrial DMZ (demilitarized zone). Rarely are factories deploying the network- level security that includes identity policies and secure remote access tools that can give management the confidence that the plant-level data can be securely extended to the cloud. Many manufacturers want the benefits of a truly connected factory as described in this video:
Today’s Reality: IoT Readiness in a Typical Factory
Recognizing the need to help manufacturers more quickly and simply scale their infrastructure for the countless connected devices they are bringing on-line as part of their IoT initiatives, Cisco has launched the Connected Factory Accelerator Bundles. These attractively priced bundles provide the core infrastructure components to help enable one connected factory or an entire IoT-enabled manufacturing enterprise. The basic building blocks for the connected factory network, connected factory wireless and pervasive security are included in these easy-to-configure and attractively priced bundles.
Cisco Connected Factory Accelerator Bundles
Find out more about the bundles and how they can help you here. In the meantime, be sure to watch closely what your employees are plugging into those open ports on your unmanaged switches. Thanks for reading.