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Industrial Ethernet's rise makes terminal servers key

By Max Burkhalter
April 4, 2013

Industrial networks are often among the most complex and precise systems created by businesses.Think of it this way - industrial networks often control robotic machinery that does actual production, raw material drilling or similar work. If something gets a wrong command because of a network issue, the organization is looking at major problems. This creates an environment in which the network has to be prioritized in most industrial settings.

Evaluating industrial network strategies
Most automation and control network infrastructure - the equipment that actually communicates with production machinery - uses a serial connection. Serial is pretty important in theseareas because Ethernet has a few quirks that make it a problem. The main issue, of course, is the actual nature of Ethernet. As a protocol, Ethernet is designed with a really cool capability - data packet dropping. When too much bandwidth tries to go through an Ethernet network link, no problem, the system just drops a couple of data packets and resends them. The delay is often a fraction of a second, something the end-user usually won't even notice, and the network is not messed up by the bandwidth issue. But if a data packet in a automation and control network is dropped, that fraction of a second delay can lead to catastrophe. This makes serial, a much more reliable packet delivery solution, ideal in most manufacturing settings.

Of course, serial's quality comes with a higher price tag. Because of this, most factories still use Ethernet for most data networks. So on one side of things, a user might be working from a computer on side of a station that is plugged into the Ethernet network for important emails, apps and data, but use a special industrial device that plugs into Ethernet to program machines and tell them what to do. This segmentation is relatively effective. However, Ethernet won't stop getting better. The network setup keeps on improving and suddenly, dropped data packets are fairly easy to avoid and Ethernet is still much less expensive than serial. segregation is not as convenient when Ethernet is cheap and can get the job done.

This is creating a mixed network environment in many industrial settings. As a result, terminal server infrastructure is increasingly important in manufacturing and similar markets. Serial to Ethernet conversion becomes a key cost-efficiency enabler when organizations take advantage of everything Ethernet has to offer in industrial settings.

Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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