New Cisco Catalyst Industrial AP Targets IT, OT Use Cases For IoT-Minded Partners

‘Our partners can create new managed services and new capabilities with this product line, servicing the OT user,’ Vikas Butaney, chief product officer, VP and GM of Cisco IoT, tells CRN.


Cisco Systems is adding a flexible access point to its industrial wireless portfolio that can operate in two different wireless modes, depending on the needs of the business.

The new Cisco Catalyst Industrial Wireless (IW) 9167 Series can work as an access point on Wi-Fi 6 or 6E connectivity, or, the same piece of hardware can also be configured as a wireless backhaul option, or what Cisco calls the “ultra-reliable” mode using technology that the company got from its 2020 FluidMesh Networks acquisition for assets on the move.

“Customers are looking for more autonomous operations. Especially with COVID, it’s not just what we can do in a white collar, setting, but how can [operations teams] OTs run their businesses using more digital technology … Our partners can create new managed services and new capabilities with this product line, servicing the OT user,” said Vikas Butaney, chief product officer, vice president and general manager of Cisco IoT.

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Cisco has also enhanced its cloud-based IoT Operations Dashboard to help operations teams more efficiently remotely operate and manage industrial IoT environments, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant.

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The Catalyst IW9167 in Wi-Fi AP mode is managed by Cisco DNA Center via the Cisco Catalyst 9800 Wireless LAN Controller. This operation lets enterprise IT teams or partners use the same tools to manage their entire network, from their headquarters to their parking lots and operational spaces, Butaney said.

The new access point in Wi-Fi AP mode is a good fit for partners that have been building capabilities and services using Cisco DNA center’s management dashboard, such as smart city or campus security solutions. “From a partner point of view, there’s no retraining needed,” he added.

While in wireless backhaul mode, however, businesses can get “near fiber-like performance” from the Catalyst IW9167, which is very useful for assets that are in-motion, Butaney said. The access point can open the door for partners for emerging IoT opportunities, like supply chain, ports, manufacturing, and even theme parks, he said.

“Now, our partners can extend their practices into these industrial and more demanding use cases, all of it built on the same access point, which can run in both of these modes,” he said.

Partners have a “huge and important role” in supporting OT use cases, Butaney said.

“If I’m a partner and I have an outdoor wireless project I’m doing, I can have the same piece of hardware and by a software change, I can deploy it in ultra-reliable mode, especially for customers thinking about [use cases like] manufacturing,” he said.

The Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard can now be used to manage the Catalyst IW9167 in wireless backhaul mode. That’s because the IoT Operations Dashboard is designed specifically for operational teams to deploy and manage networks, while getting visibility into their focused IoT use cases with integrated sensors. Updates to the dashboard include the ability for OTs to remotely manage their connected assets, single sign-on to log into the dashboard from the Cisco Platform suite, and two new sensors that can be connected to the platform -- an industrial-grade vibration sensor and an industrial sensor bridge, Cisco said.

“We’re trying to make the user experience as seamless as possible while making sure we’re taking care of the needs of the exact persona we’re talking about,” Butaney said.

The enhancements to the Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard are available now. The Cisco Catalyst IW9167 Series will be orderable in mid-2022, according to Cisco.