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By A.J. Roan
For Metal Tech News 

Cisco expands IoT with Fluidmesh buyout

Strengthens tech powerhouse's "high-speed" connections Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – April 15, 2020


Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:50am

Usibelli Coal Mine Alaska installs Fluidmesh network solutions connect cameras

Usibelli Coal Mine

Usibelli Coal Mine in Alaska recently installed Fluidmesh network solutions to connect high-resolution, low-light cameras that allow miners to monitor the status of the heavy mining equipment from a safe location.

Global technology supplier Cisco Systems Inc. proceeds with acquisition of Fluidmesh Networks to develop their wireless Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio.

Beginning with a collaborative project in 2016 where Cisco and Fluidmesh sought to improve Wi-Fi connectivity on high-speed trains, the partnership has become an integration.

Fluidmesh Networks, founded in 2005 by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Polytechnic University of Milan, specializes in hardware and software manufacturing of wireless networks.

Fluidmesh's technology was built to provide zero loss of data transfer within high-speed assets, including rail, subways, public transit, and ports, having patented their fast-roaming multiprotocol label switch trackside technology that can deliver more reliable Wi-Fi to trains.

The company has also developed a wireless industrial-grade IP solution for mining automation projects involving mission-critical condition monitoring and security.

"Our wireless mining automation solutions are tailored for major, intermediate and junior mines. With our fast-roaming wireless solution for mobile applications we can connect vehicles and trucks moving around the mine, for automation and safety related mobile applications," Fluidmesh penned on its mining solutions webpage.

The products offered by Fluidmesh typically move data from IoT devices on the edges of networks to larger networks. Cisco has stated that it would be using these products to support demand for "on-the-move critical assets and applications."

This integration of Fluidmesh's technology, which is being implemented from college campuses to oil & gas fields, is expected to strengthen Cisco's range in the industrial IoT market.

It is anticipated that Cisco's scale – together with Fluidmesh's solution-based offerings and relationships with systems integrators – will accelerate the network giant's industrial IoT business to enable successful industrial wireless deployments and broaden the reach to key customer segments, partners, and end-users.

In 2018 the number of networked devices was estimated at 18.4 billion and that number is expected to increase to 29.3 billion in 2023.

According to a recent internet report published by Cisco, near half of those future networked devices will support IoT applications.

And not all of these devices and IoT applications are standing still. Fluidmesh's reliable networking solutions for users traveling at speeds up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour was a primary draw for Cisco.

"Cisco provides one of the most secure and reliable networking technologies on the market today," said Cisco Senior Vice President and General Manager Liz Centoni. "With wireless technology playing a greater role in every organization's multi-access IoT strategy, reliable wireless connectivity is paramount to organizations operating Industrial IoT environments, whether that's manufacturing, mining, rail, or ports, where wireless technology automates operations to improve safety and lower costs. The acquisition of Fluidmesh strengthens Cisco's offerings in this space with leading technology that's designed to provide zero loss of data transfer at speeds in excess of 300 Km/h."

This acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2020 subject to customary closing conditions and required regulatory approvals, with the Fluidmesh team joining Cisco's IoT business shortly afterwards.

The Fluidmesh purchase is just one in a series of IoT-related moves Cisco has made in the past year.

In January, Cisco rolled out new security architecture for industrial IoT (IIoT) environments that includes existing products, but also new software called Cisco Cyber Vision, for the automated discovery of industrial assets attached to Cisco's extensive IIoT networking portfolio.

In March, Cisco said it would meld its announced intelligent-edge software with Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub.

Also, in 2019, Cisco expanded its IoT security and management offerings by acquiring Sentryo, a company that offers anomaly detection and real-time threat detection for IoT networks.

In addition to that, Cisco rolled out a family of switches, software, developer tools and blueprints to incorporate IoT and industrial networking into intent-based networking and classic IT security, monitoring and application-development support.

These moves were designed to address the rapidly growing IoT networking field.

Wireless systems industrial internet of things IoT graphic

Learntek; via Flickr

The future of wireless is a system of interconnected devices that enable seamless flow of data from machine-to-machine.

In the mines, as well as other heavy industrial sectors, IoT devices are becoming more widely needed as autonomous equipment must communicate with each other and a central control room; sensors continually communicate the health of equipment; drones carry out tasks in areas otherwise unreachable; and video surveillance makes mines safer and more efficient.

Combined with the emerging high-speed 5G networks, these next generation of seamlessly interconnected IoT devices are expected to shape the future of mining and other industrial sectors.

More information on how 5G is affecting industrial internet can be read at 5G to enable next gen of industrial IoT in the current edition of Metal Tech News.


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