Cisco recently announced a new series of Catalyst “Digital Building” switches. These Catalyst switches are designed for connecting and powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices and systems in smart buildings and other related environments. For example, one design innovation is the use of a separate power plate for Power over Ethernet (PoE), so even when an administrator reboots the device or updates its software, the switch will continue to deliver power to peripheral devices such as smart lighting and surveillance cameras.
These Catalyst switches are also rugged, power-efficient and capable of being mounted in ceilings, which give enterprises a lot of flexibility in how they deploy them.
The biggest selling point of these switches might be that they run the “LAN Lite” version of Cisco’s ubiquitous IOS operating system. EMA’s “Network Management Megatrends 2016” research found that 87% of enterprise network infrastructure professionals provide connectivity to IoT devices, and most of them play a leading role in planning and implementing their organization’s IoT initiatives. This means the IT organization is often supplying the IoT network, not the operational technology or facilities teams. There are several specialist vendors that provide ruggedized Ethernet switches for harsh environments like military deployments, oil and gas fields, and aircraft. In those examples, the IT team might not be involved in providing the network connectivity. However, in a digital building environment where smart building systems and IT systems will probably converge, IT organizations will look for switches with a familiar software platform like Cisco IOS.
Incidentally, I’m planning to kick off some detailed survey-based research on IoT later this quarter. I’ll be taking a deeper look at how IT organizations supply IoT connectivity and how they operationalize their new IoT networks. Stay tuned for that research and the accompanying free research highlights webinar.