Rockwell/Cisco reference architectures result in best practices for EtherNet/IP

Automation vendor Rockwell Automation and network hardware supplier Cisco will create reference architectures using standard networking technologies, and hold educational forums to advance process optimization based on greater information sharing and access at all levels of the organization. According to Beth Parkinson, Rockwell's director of strategic alliances, “We've jointly engaged...

06/01/2007


Automation vendor Rockwell Automation and network hardware supplier Cisco will create reference architectures using standard networking technologies, and hold educational forums to advance process optimization based on greater information sharing and access at all levels of the organization. According to Beth Parkinson, Rockwell's director of strategic alliances, “We've jointly engaged our customers and have been listening to them about where they need help in the convergence of manufacturing and the IT network.”

The partnership builds on work with ODVA, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based association of automation vendors that support open network technologies using Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), including Ethernet Industrial Protocol (EtherNet/IP); DeviceNet; CompoNet; and other tools.

By bridging CIP capabilities, EtherNet/IP simplifies overall system architecture to facilitate communication between enterprise and factory-floor devices.

“We have compatible skill sets,” says Dan Knight, Cisco industrial solutions manager. “Cisco has expertise in networking and communications, but not in control systems. Working together, we can see what technology can be brought to the plant floor to deliver the value manufacturers need.”

To date, Rockwell and Cisco have been building and testing what they call reference architectures for how to mesh the differing requirements for latency, security, and performance between the IT and automation layers using open, standard protocols.

“We're focused on bridging the cultural divide between the two layers as well,” says Parkinson. “We're building education and training to address this.”





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