Recapping Cisco industrial IoT’s journey: A year of security, simplification and innovation


The end of the year and the start of the next is always a time of retrospection and celebration. In this blog, we’ll take a look back at the key topics and trends that defined the industrial IoT journey in 2023.

  • Security, security, security
  • Theme of simplify IT for OT
  • Sustainability
  • New product innovations
  • AI for industrial

Security, security, security

Protecting industrial operations from cyberthreats is critical and always top of mind. Empowering our industrial customers to digitize and secure operations at the same time has been prevalent in every conversation this year. As it connects all systems and devices, the network is clearly in the best position to enable a defense-in-depth approach. Combining our deep expertise in both industrial networking and cybersecurity, Cisco has empowered the network to secure operations:

  • Providing visibility at scale: Cisco networking equipment embed our Cisco Cyber Vision software to provide visibility into OT asset inventories, vulnerabilities, and behaviors without the need for additional appliances or network resources. The Cisco network enables organizations to assess their OT security posture and monitor cyber risks from internal industrial resources.
  • Containing threats: Segmenting industrial networks to prevent threats from spreading and ensure assets can only communicate with the appropriate resources they need has become much simpler and does not require additional security appliances. The Cisco industrial network benefits from Cisco ISE and Cyber Vision working together to enforce ISA/IEC-62443 zones and conduits.
  • Controlling secure remote access: Remote access to OT assets is key to run operations. Granting access to external actors can introduce major risks that need to be controlled. With Cisco Secure Equipment Access (SEA), Cisco has brought the zero-trust network access (ZTNA) architecture to industrial operations to eliminate the drawbacks of VPN solutions and risks of unmanaged cellular gateways. And because it’s built into Cisco industrial switches and routers, it’s very simple to deploy at scale. Cisco SEA has been recognized in CRN 2023 Tech Innovators Awards.

Simplify IT for industrial networks

Simplification is a key theme at Cisco; deliver simplicity and scale for IT and operations. We bring simplicity and scale by delivering OT services such as Cyber Vision and Secure Equipment Access from the cloud on the industrial network. Our cloud software services for OT deliver on our vision of Cisco Cloud Networking to provide a simple and consistent experience across all Cisco platforms. For example, single sign-on (SSO) makes it easier to gain access and navigate across Cisco networking platforms. Common user interface and authentication methods bring greater consistency and ease of use for customers to learn and use Cisco networking platforms securely.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a key business priority across industries, and digitization is empowering organizations to achieve their goals. The path to a more sustainable future requires reliable connectivity and visibility into data for better control and management of highly distributed industrial assets. To accelerate the transition to clean energy, the grid operators require updated digital infrastructure. We are helping our customers connect clean energy sources such as wind and solar farms and digitize the grid to accelerate the energy transition. See how we helped ScottishPower Renewables.

New product innovations

Cisco’s commitment to innovation consistently keeps us focused on what’s ahead for industrial networking. We announced innovations to bring more enterprise grade capabilities to the industrial edge.

Cloud-delivered OT services to secure industrial networks at scale: Our industrial customers frequently tell us they often lack skilled resources to secure operations at scale. They need solutions they can easily deploy and operate, especially in the case of highly distributed sites such as roadways or renewable energy production. In 2023, Cisco has made Cyber Vision available as a cloud-based service to help easily gain visibility on OT asset inventories and their security posture. Cisco Secure Equipment Access simplifies managing remote access by centralizing policy configuration and enforcement in a cloud-based service that OT administrators can use.

Expanding network connectivity choices for industrial use cases:

Bottomline, we are helping our customers leverage the industrial network as a platform for innovation to ensure secure operations and unlock more value by enabling access to operational devices and data.

It’s not just what’s ahead but we also looked back at what we’ve achieved. We celebrated a key milestone with 25 years of industrial switching anniversary.

Industrial AI

The AI topic is top of mind for the industrial customer. Industrial AI can unlock remarkable value for organizations and is seen as a key enabler for improving efficiency, reducing costs, enhancing security etc. It can help further enhance IT and OT collaboration. Now industrial AI models require large amounts of industrial data to train its algorithms. Also, once the model is trained, collection and transmission of data needs reliable, secure, high bandwidth, low latency connectivity. Hence for it to work effectively, you need a network that is ready for these demands. Cisco is helping organizations enable their AI use cases at scale by providing best of breed network and security.

Closing thoughts

As we move into 2024, we promise to continue pushing the boundaries driving digital transformation and shaping the future of industrial networks. Watch this blog channel as we continue to evolve our portfolio and bring the future to you. We look forward to seeing some of you at Cisco Live EMEA. To dive deeper into technical topics at Cisco Live, follow our industrial IoT learning maps.

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