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Critical closed networks amid major shift

By Max Burkhalter
August 27, 2012
For consumers, the ubiquity of Ethernet services has become a party of daily living. With smartphones and tablets gaining so much prominence, many people are used to being able to run applications, access data and communicate with peers anytime and almost anywhere. Furthermore, there are few people who no longer know what an Ethernet jack does and have not used CAT 5 cables in their homes, offices, apartments, dorm rooms or other living and work spaces. Because of this, many organizations in the industrial, commercial and utility sectors are beginning to more seriously consider Ethernet for their networks, Cabling Installation & Maintenance reported.

Typically, these advanced types of networks have fairly unique requirements that demand specialized equipment. The news source explained that in such industries as transportation, retail, utility, industrial, commercial, government and military, the network always has to be available, has to have zero latency and has to be secure.

If these advanced networks go down, so does the power grid, the transportation infrastructure and other key services that people depend on every day. These systems must also remain available for years to come, the report said. However, the industries that have used these systems are amid what experts are calling the Industrial Communication Revolution. In this process, many organizations that have used the highly specific, extremely reliable specialized network are increasingly replacing those systems with Ethernet infrastructure.

This movement is particularly prevalent in the automation and control networks that are common across the industrial sector, but other machine-to-machine infrastructure is also being equipped with standard Ethernet systems, the news source explained. The switch to Ethernet in machine-to-machine communications is also contributing to the internet of things, which is coming into play as machines are able to communicate with each other, share data and operate more efficiently. This development is built on the widespread availability of Ethernet, but networks have to be carefully established to provide the reliability and performance needed.

Smart grid systems are a prime example of how Ethernet is changing machine-to-machine communication. Within the smart grid, utility departments can connect various meters, monitoring devices, sensors and machinery spread throughout power generation sites, homes and other parts of the grid to the network. This allows utility companies to be more responsive and operate more efficiently.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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