Modular Industrial Patch Panels Improve Reliability and Flexibility

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager for industrial cable.

If you have ever lived in a climate with cold winters and the power has gone out, you likely realized how much we take electricity and heating systems for granted. Not only is it inconvenient on a personal level, it impacts the economy by reducing productivity and disrupting manufacturing processes.

Thus, the organizations involved with power generation and distribution work very hard to maintain system uptime of 99.999 percent or better. Achieving that involves many strategies. An important one is to maintain a robust industrial Ethernet infrastructure for communication systems.

Analyses show that 70 percent of communication systems outages are due to failures in network components, cable and connectors. Consequently, a major manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) power systems, SMA Solar Technology, took care to make sure its connectivity systems include high performing patch panels.

Let’s take a look at the key challenges of such installations and the role of patch panels in ensuring high reliability.

Long Island Solar Farm

Since 2011, Long Island Power Authority has used SMA Solar Technology’s ground-mounted photovoltaic panels and central inverters to generate 44,000 MWh of power per year. Photo Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Making Sense of IoT

BrainIt’s easy to see how technology and the data centers behind it all are significantly changing our lives. With the number of connected devices now outnumbering the world’s population, it looks like The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer just a vision—it’s now reality.

A quick Google search defines IoT as the “interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.” How’s that for a definition that really doesn’t tell us much?

Furthermore, the term “things” is rather vague. Many define the term as essentially referring to any device, machine or object with an IP address for connectivity—in other words, “things” like personal smart devices, laptops, security systems, thermostats, vending machines, stop lights, factory machinery, and even our cars.

But the “things” of IoT are so much more Read more »

Defense in Depth Cyber Security for Substation Communications

This week, the largest electric utility trade show and conference in the U.S., DistribuTECH, is being held. One of the tracks in the conference portion of the event is “Defending the Grid.” The prominence of the topic at this show, along with recent high-profile hacking attacks (Sony, Target) that have caught the attention of top management in all industries, add up to one thing – it’s time to look at or review the state of cyber defenses at your substations.

It’s not a surprise that critical infrastructure, such as the electrical grid, has been an increasing target for sophisticated cyberattacks. What may be news to you, however, is the fact that the legacy devices and protocols used in substations are particularly vulnerable to both intentional and accidental cyber incidents.

What then is the right approach to take to secure substations? It starts with the best practice of Defense in Depth.

Electrical substations are vulnerable to both intentional and accidental cyber incidents

Electrical substations are vulnerable to both intentional and accidental cyber incidents.

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The Smart Factory of the Future – Part 1

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Andreas Dreher, the strategic technology manager at Hirschmann Automation and Control.

When it comes to industrial networking today, many factories and process control facilities around the world are focused on upgrading to managed Ethernet networks. With the long, useful life of industrial devices, there is plenty of old equipment using legacy industrial protocols in active service. Indeed, much of our business involves helping companies upgrade to structured, reliable and easy-to-maintain industrial Ethernet infrastructure.

Even given this reality, it is instructive to step away from current challenges and look ahead to the Factory of the Future. What will industrial production look like 5-20 years from now? What do I need to understand about where factories are going to guide my decisions today? How will my factory compete with brand new factories that use next generation communication systems and concepts? Where does the industrial Internet of Things fit in?

This blog is the first in a series of blogs on the Smart Factory that aim to advise you about where factory production and automation are going. It applies not only to discrete manufacturing, but also to automation in the process, energy and transportation industries.

We are fortunate to have insight into this topic from our Hirschmann division, based in Germany where “Industry 4.0” is part of a large publicly funded project, to inform this discussion.

Let’s take a look at what the Smart Factory is and what characterizes its communication systems.

The Smart Factory of the Future

The Smart Factory of the Future will consist of systems that are more intelligent, flexible and dynamic than the ones in use today.

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Cabinet Access Control: Deployment Considerations

Following is another blog by guest blogger and product line manager Denis Blouin.

Earlier this month, I blogged about the importance of cabinet-level security in the data center due to the potential for internal threats. If you’ve realized the importance of bringing security down to the cabinet level and are planning to deploy a cabinet access control system, there are many features to consider when evaluating solutions.

Accessing-Keypad

Flexible and Scalable

When evaluating an access control system for data center cabinets, make sure that the system is flexible to meet your specific environment. For example, in a pod-based data centers where rows or groups of cabinets are segregated by function, you might want to require access for a group of cabinets rather than at individual cabinets. You might also want to Read more »

Bi-Modal IT: The Ying and Yang of Tomorrow’s Data Center

YingYangIn last month’s blog on SDx, I introduced the buzzword “bi-modal IT” that has been getting a lot of attention in the industry—especially following the latest research by Gartner, which states that 45% of CIOs have already gone bi-modal and 75% are expected to go bi-modal by 2017.

To recap, a bi-modal IT approach is the coexistence of traditional and modern IT practices within the same entity where some applications remain in a traditional environment due to security or reliability issues while other less critical “fail fast” applications operate within a more digital, agile model that supports fast delivery and prototyping of new technologies.   Let’s take a closer look at bi-modal IT from an organizational perspective. Read more »

Let Me Show You to the Door

Enclosure-DoorThe need to optimize airflow in the data center is becoming increasingly important as heat load densities continue to rise above beyond the average 6 to 7 kW per rack. While best practices like reducing cable congestion, using a hot aisle/cold aisle configuration or deploying a containment strategy are ideal ways to help manage passive airflow, cabinet doors play a key role. And when it comes to choosing a cabinet, it’s important to look at all the features of the door.

The Hole Truth

There are two separate variables to consider that determine the air resistance characteristics of a cabinet door Read more »

Meet the PM: Vinod Rana

Name: Vinod Rana

Title: Product Manager Backbone and Security

Vinod Rana

How long have you been with Belden?: 4+ years

Platform: Industrial IT

Brand(s): Hirschmann

Products Managed: MSP, MS Family, MACH4000, Eagle

What’s one thing about MSP and Eagle 30 that few know?
MSP has the most powerful hardware design in the Hirschmann portfolio with high range of routing capabilities and high end security features. Eagle 30 is a multiport firewall with up to 6 GB and FE ports and is now equipped with SHDSL interfaces. This makes it the most unique firewall available in the industrial market.

How does the MSP/Eagle 30 switch help solve customer pain points?
MSP provides a highly flexible modular design with Layer 3 routing capabilities. This allows the customer to route between two different networks using an industrial ruggedized switch which can be placed directly near the operation floor. Eagle 30 on the other hand allows the customer to protect multiple networks using only one physical device with multiple ports.

Anything new coming out soon?
MSP 30 “X” (Extreme Conditions) ruggedized for even harsher conditions. Vibration tests going up to 4G making it the only switch to be certified under such conditions. Eagle 30 will provide possibility of VPN connections in addition to SHDSL.

Cabinet Security: More Important Than You Might Think

security_1Most of us understand the need for security at the main data center entrance, as we certainly do not want those with unauthorized access touching critical networking equipment.   Unfortunately, with so much data—from personal information to intellectual property—now being transmitted and stored via the data center, protecting that information from within is becoming a greater concern than ever before.   That’s why bringing security down to cabinet level makes perfect sense. Let’s take a closer look at why.

Internal Threats on the Rise

According to a 2011 survey by Gabriel Group, more than 60% of today’s security breaches are at the hands of company insiders or others with legitimate data center access. That is certainly a scary statistic! Read more »

Top 2014 Cyber Security Content You Don’t Want to Miss

Over the holidays, you likely read or heard about a number of “Top 10” lists. Examples include Top 10 News Stories, Top 10 Books, Top 10 Movies, and Top 10 You-Name-It.

Thinking you would not want to miss out on the top topics about one of your favorite subjects, industrial security, I took a look at what the top articles were for this blog in 2014. I also looked at which cyber security white papers and other documents were downloaded most frequently.

The results show that there were three top themes:
1.The End of Support (EOS) for Windows XP
2.The Dragonfly advanced malware campaign
3.“Cyber Security Big Picture”

The “Cyber Security Big Picture” topic included information on the NIST cyber security framework and cyber security concepts for CEOs.

Finally, particular application areas showed a high area of interest. This included Defense in Depth strategies for oil and gas applications and industrial wireless applications.
If any of these topics are of interest to you, or you want to make sure you didn’t miss any useful content, read on.

Top Cyber Security Topics of 2014
Reader visits and content downloads helped us determine
the top cyber security topics of 2014.

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