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Cisco unveils new 5G industrial router portfolio for the IoT Edge

By Shannon Williams, Fri 18 Jun 2021

Cisco has launched a new 5G industrial router portfolio in a bid to to unite the Internet of Things edge.

The portfolio of Catalyst industrial routers aims to extend the power of the enterprise network to the edge with the flexibility, security and scalability needed for IoT success. Featuring 5G capabilities, the portfolio enables organisations to run connected operations at scale with choice of management tools suited for both IT and operations. 

According to Cisco, the unified architecture simplifies collaboration between IT and operations and streamlines their deployments from the enterprise to the edge.

"For most of our customers, the opportunity to improve efficiencies, the customer experience, and business results is achieved with data generated at the edge," says Cisco.

"Because the edge is all the places where organisations serve their customers and create revenue. The edge is diverse and is located anywhere and everywhere – from utility substations and pipelines to roadways and the police cars and buses that run on them."

According to Gartner, 75% of data will be generated outside of the data centre in these edge environments. This type of growth brings challenging new requirements.  

Vikas Butaney, VP/GM of Cisco IoT, says whether it’s connecting point-of-sale kiosks or a remote piece of equipment, edge use cases have different technology needs. 

"Typically, organisations connect these environments in isolation, resulting in a fragmented network architecture, increased security vulnerabilities, and isolated data," he says.

"As organisations accelerate digitisation, they need a way to simplify management and security across the network and edge devices.

“Only Cisco offers a network from the enterprise to the industrial edge, with an architecture that provides visibility, automation, and security from campuses and branch offices to substations, remote operating locations, fleets, on-the-go connected assets, and beyond,” says Butaney.

The new portfolio includes:

Three new Catalyst 5G Industrial Routers to securely connect mobile and fixed assets
These new routers are based on Cisco IOS XE to extend the enterprise network and SD-WAN to the edge. This unified architecture provides IT and operational teams with consistent tools, eliminates training on new devices and technologies, and improves security. The new Catalyst routers are modular and also offer built-in edge compute to develop business apps and drive decisions at the edge.

New Cisco IoT Gateway Series for essential indoor or outdoor connectivity at mass scale
Packaged with Cisco’s cloud-based IoT Operations Dashboard, these cloud-simple gateways are cost-effective and offer fast and simple set up; simply plug it in and power it on to connect previously unconnected assets.

Unprecedented modularity and scale to handle the 5G future and beyond
The need for data means organisations will increase the number of devices connected and the applications supported. As 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and new technologies proliferate, the edge must be able to quickly adapt. 

The new Catalyst routing portfolio delivers the scale, flexibility and security to adapt as use cases evolve and new applications are needed. It offers a broad choice of modules – including 5G and LTE for public or private cellular networks, public safety applications like FirstNet, DSL, Wi-SUN – and upgradeable storage. Plus, the portfolio enables updating the CPU and battery in the field.

“Our customers need our hardware to be in play for 7-10 years in their operational environments. This modularity eliminates a rip and replace cycle to take advantage of 5G and whatever comes next,” says Butaney.

“Now they can easily take advantage of new technologies and future-proof their networking investments.”

Built-in, end-to-end security with visibility into operational environments
As industrial and enterprise networks converge with more assets connected, the threat of exposure at the edge increases. This ever-expanding attack surface presents complex cyber security challenges.

The Catalyst industrial router portfolio, based on Cisco’s industry-leading cybersecurity architecture, delivers a holistic strategy to manage security across siloed IT and OT environments. The portfolio integrates Cisco Cyber Vision to provide full visibility from enterprise to the edge. Cyber Vision embeds a sensor within the industrial network so security teams can detect threats to their industrial environments with operational context, enabling organisations to build a truly converged IT/operations threat management strategy – without the need for extra boxes and vendors. Plus, the portfolio supports secure remote access for operations and equipment monitoring/servicing. 

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