In a move aimed at unifying factory-floor networks with the ones in corporate back offices, Cisco Systems will next week unveil switches based on IP and Ethernet.
The Catalyst 2955 series was designed for use in factories and in utility, transportation and military settings, where temperatures, humidity, dust and vibrations were more extreme than they were in regular business environments, Cisco officials said.
The devices, which are about one-third as big as Cisco's regular switches, are shipping now and are priced from $US2100 to $US3600.
The 2955 series introduced the first rugged Ethernet switches developed by a major networking equipment vendor, an analyst at ARC Advisory Group, Harry Forbes, said.
He said that Cisco was rolling out the switches at a time when factory-floor devices that control production processes, robots and other machines were starting to be equipped with Ethernet interfaces instead of manufacturing-specific technologies.
Forbes said the biggest supplier of rugged Ethernet switches for factories was German-based Hirschmann Electronics.
Switches accounted for about 8 per cent of the 300,000 Ethernet-ready devices sold for factory use last year, ARC said.