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Cisco Live 2019: Cisco IoT Just Got More Rugged

At Cisco Live 2019, the tech giant rips the sheet off a new line of industrial switches, access points, and an SD-WAN-powered router built to withstand extreme environmental conditions as Cisco pushes its intent-based networking approach to the IoT edge.

Cisco is bringing networking out to the furthest edge -- as in remote locations and harsh conditions.

At Cisco Live this week in San Diego, California, the tech giant unveiled a new line of ruggedized industrial switches, access points, and routers designed to weather extended exposure to extreme environmental conditions, like water, dust, and high temperatures. The idea is to extend Cisco's intent-based networking approach to the most far-flung IoT networks, including chemical plants, oil refineries, and mines.

Only 40 percent of IoT projects today move past proof of concept to scale, Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco's IoT division, told members of the media.

"We are extending the network into spaces that probably haven't seen it before," Centoni said. "The same intent-based networking [strategy] is what we're bringing to IoT."

[Related: Cisco Live: New DevNet Certification, DevNet Automation Exchange Debut]

The new Cisco IoT product line includes Catalyst Heavy Duty switches; the Cisco Catalyst IE3400 Heavy Duty Series Switch. It also includes the Catalyst IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Point family that have been built with h harsh weather in mind. The latest switches and access points are managed by Cisco DNA Center, a platform that offers universal management and segmentation across campus, branch and operational technology (OT) environments, according to Cisco.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is also extending SD-WAN to the IoT Edge. Cisco's existing industrial router -- the Cisco IR1101 Router -- can now support Cisco SD-WAN, it's Viptela-powered offering. The IR1101 Router with SD-WAN can securely connect remote locations and give application performance a boost, the company said. Cisco said the offering is the market's first SD-WAN solution built specifically for industrial IoT customers.

Logicalis, a global MSP and Cisco Gold partner with offices in the Midwest, has a large IoT practice and about 37 percent of its customers are in the manufacturing space. Logicalis also has a number of customers with mines and steel facilities.

While data insight is critical to IoT, simply connecting endpoints to the network is a big challenge for many customers starting out with IoT deployments, said Mike Trojecki, vice president of IoT and Analytics for Logicalis.

"Some of those devices are in tough terrains and they are limited to what they even have connected," Trojecki said. "For our customers, its critical just to be able to connect and then be able to reach a platform."

Extending intent-based networking to IoT will let businesses scale and secure their IoT projects in a more automated way, Centoni said. "There's real-time decision making that needs to happen where the data is located, like in a substation or refinery, for example," she said.

The Cisco IR1101 Router is available now through the channel. The Cisco Catalyst IE3400 Heavy Duty Series Switch will be available this summer and the Catalyst IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Points are slated to be available in the Fall, Cisco said.

Cisco last Thursday revealed plans to acquire Sentryo, a French company that specializes in device visibility and security solutions for industrial control system networks. Financial terms of the acquisition aren't being disclosed, but the deal will give Cisco customers more visibility and protection over their industrial IoT endpoints on the network. The combination of Sentryo's security-focused technology and Cisco's networking expertise will give users visibility and insight into the communication patterns that OT endpoints use in IoT environments, Centoni said.

"You have to think about segmentation in these environments," she said.

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