A technical overview of Cisco IoT part 2: Hardware

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The following article continues the Cisco IoT series, shifting focus to the essential networking hardware that powers IoT solutions. Part one of the series explored the foundational elements of IoT routing and switching, emphasizing the critical role these components play in ensuring seamless connectivity and robust data flow. Building on that discussion, this piece will outline the significant opportunities in IoT networking and security that Cisco supports through its innovative hardware offerings.

IoT is a rapidly expanding area of networking with increasing use cases. It impacts various sectors, including healthcare and retail, by providing valuable security or cost-saving benefits through new forms of sensors. These sensors enable new capabilities such as better inventory management and improved products.

SEE ALSO: A technical overview of Cisco IoT part one: Routing and switching

Cisco’s Industrial Routers

According to Cisco, “The heart of your business is the edge! It is everywhere.” Key areas where IoT supports a competitive edge include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Vehicles & Fleets
  • Oil & Gas Pipelines
  • Roads & Intersections
  • Kiosks & Vending Machines
  • Power Grid Distribution/Secondary Substations

Cisco promotes retiring legacy IoT systems and uniting the edge into a single, segmented network. This approach reduces the complexity of multiple task-specific networks, lowers costs for duplicative IoT devices, optimizes resource utilization, and introduces newer processes and technologies, such as automation.

Cisco offers:

  • Rugged routers for harsh environments
  • SD-WAN capabilities
  • Management through DNA-C (now Cisco Catalyst Center or CCC)
  • Support for specialized modules to integrate older technologies

These routers are designed to fit into small enclosures, withstand extreme temperatures, and operate without handy power outlets. Key aspects include:

  • Size, weight, and form factor
  • Shock and vibration tolerance
  • High MTBF and resilient network topologies
  • DIN-rail or rack mounting
  • Fanless design
  • Industry certifications
  • Support for various industry timing protocols
  • Integrated switched LAN interfaces and pluggable modules for 5G cellular

Cisco’s Industrial Switches

Cisco's industrial switches are designed to withstand harsh environments, offering alternative form factors to meet diverse needs. These switches range from smaller, fixed port L2 switches to larger, modular L3 switches, each providing varying feature sets that align with simple management and cost efficiency.

Additionally, the industrial switches support unique networking options for industrial environments and are certified to meet various industry standards, including:

  • Harsh temperature range
  • Fanless/convection cooling with no moving parts
  • Ruggedness against shock and vibration
  • Suitability for humid and corrosive environments
  • Compliance with safety standards
  • Wide electromagnetic immunity conformance

These switches can be managed by DNA-C (now Cisco Catalyst Center) and support segmented designs. More information can be found in Cisco’s Industrial Ethernet Switching Portfolio.

Advanced Industrial Wireless Solutions

Cisco offers a comprehensive range of Industrial Wireless (IOT) solutions, including Wi-Fi, Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul (URWB), Cellular 4G LTE/5G, LoRaWAN, and Cisco Resilient Mesh. These solutions address various use cases, from remote sensor data collection in agricultural fields to providing internet access for moving trains. Key products include:

  • Heavy Duty Access Points (Wi-Fi or URWB)
  • Wireless backhaul models
  • Power injectors, adapters, and mounting accessories
  • Rugged AP and Client (URWB) for moving machines and vehicles
  • Edge Compute appliance for URWB
  • DNA-C and IOT Operations Center

The Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul (URWB) is particularly notable for its high-speed mobility, low latency, and carrier-grade availability, making it ideal for assets that are constantly moving. Cisco’s new “Industrial Wireless (IW) Service” offers cloud-based scalable provisioning and management of IW devices, ensuring secure and efficient operations even in offline environments.


Cisco provides a diverse array of industrial hardware solutions designed to meet various use cases and customer needs, distinguishing itself from non-industrial, non-IoT hardware offerings. With robust support for extreme environmental conditions and advanced networking capabilities, Cisco's industrial solutions enable businesses to optimize their IoT infrastructure effectively. As the IoT landscape continues to evolve, Cisco remains at the forefront, delivering innovative and reliable hardware to support the growing demands of connected industries.

Image credit: Monticello / depositphotos

With over 30 years of experience in networking, BlueAlly Architect and Technology Writer, Dr. Peter Welcher is a highly respected Cisco expert who not only assisted in developing the original Cisco IOS CLI but has taught, developed and co-developed several Cisco courses over the years.

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