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Posted by: Michael Salvador on December 18, 2014

I recently attended data center conferences hosted by research firms 451 and Gartner, both of whom announced that our industry is in the midst of the biggest change we’ve seen in a generation.

One of these next generation changes involves the term “SDx” that seems to be causing just as much confusion as “cloud computing” did a few years back when few understood its definition.

SDx refers to software-defined anything. It is a collective term that encapsulates the growing adoption of improved programmability across the data center where centralized software controls numerous types of equipment, data transmission and activities.

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Blog Category: Industrial Ethernet

Posted by: Heather MacKenzie on December 17, 2014

Every industry today is under pressure to lower costs, yet increase flexibility. A particular example is the electric power industry where on the one hand there are initiatives to increase the two-way communication of data to meet the vision of the smart grid, and on the other hand, keeping costs down is essential.

At the substation level, one way to control costs is to address the Ethernet switching needs with a value-priced, yet rugged, flexible switch. Hirschmann has just introduced a new Gigabit Ethernet switch, which is ideal for meeting this need.

If you are an engineer or system integrator in need of a substation hardened entry-level switch, this device might be very useful. Plus, it has an additional benefit – it comes with field exchangeable port modules for high flexibility.

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Heather MacKenzie on December 12, 2014

The malware campaign known as Dragonfly has surprised those of us concerned with industrial cyber security on several fronts. Initially it was notable as the first malware since Stuxnet in 2010 to specifically target ICS components.

Then, research done by Joel Langill of RedHat Cyber, showed that its target was most likely the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the energy industry as initially reported. This represented the first time that a sophisticated attack vector had gone after the discrete manufacturing sector.

Next, although Dragonfly collected information on industrial control systems, it did not harm these systems. Instead, it gathered information for the likely purposes of counterfeiting or competitive intelligence. (It would, nonetheless, be trivial for its creators to modify its modules for destructive purposes in the future.)

Dragonfly was also remarkable because of the devious methods and pathways it took to get to the control system. Joel coined the apt term “Offense in Depth” to describe the diversified arsenal of attack vectors it employed.

Today we are releasing the final two parts of our white paper on Dragonfly. These are Part C – Assessing the Consequences and Part D – Defending Industrial Control Systems. These analyses reveal another concerning aspect of Dragonfly, in particular how “usual” security solutions would not have defended against it. Thankfully though, there are techniques and products available to defend against it.

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Blog Category: Data Centers

Posted by: Paul Kish on December 11, 2014

Just in case full high-definition resolution isn’t enough, 4K is the next generation resolution that will deliver a whole new level of clarity at roughly four times the resolution of 1080p.

Despite limited 4K content currently available to consumers, Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and others are already selling 4K TV sets and widespread adoption is eventually expected. An ABI Research report from last year expects 4K to surpass 10% of North American TV households by 2018.

4K covers two formats that are both supported in the HDMI 1.4 specification – 3840p X 2160p and 4096p X 2160p. While HDMI 1.4 supports 4K resolution, adds an audio channel that enables upstream audio connections, and can deliver 100 Mbps IP-based applications with an added Ethernet channel, there are some cabling and connectivity challenges to consider that include distance limitations, installation and testing.

HDBaseT resolves these issues.

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Blog Category: Data Centers

Posted by: Dwayne Crawford on December 04, 2014

With an explosion of connected devices, there is no shortage of data being transmitted and stored via optical networking in the data center. However it’s not just the amount of data—it’s also how that data is being used. And that can be summed up with one word – sharing.

Ever-growing data sets are being shared across multiple vendor applications. In the massive high-density virtualized environments of cloud computing, this is driving more east-west server traffic. As the age of the “Internet of Things” come to fruition, the I/O portion of the equation will evolve like never before.

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Blog Category: Industrial Ethernet

Posted by: Heather MacKenzie on December 02, 2014

A huge amount has been written about the “Smart Grid” in recent years and most of it leads you to believe that every substation is communicating using high-speed Ethernet between all of its various components.

But let’s face it – the intelligent electronic device (IED) that was installed 15 years ago to monitor the status of the transformer is still out there. No one is even going to think about upgrading that IED until it or the transformer fails.

This begs the question of how to incorporate serial communication devices into a modern Ethernet infrastructure. Today, we’re going to take a look at this critical, and often times overlooked, issue.

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Blog Category: Data Centers

Posted by: Michael Salvador on November 26, 2014

It’s that time of year again when we all start to think about the things we are thankful for, including our data center blog fans who continue to read our blog every week. We remain thankful for the opportunity to provide you with useful, thought-provoking information on the latest and greatest technologies, standards and trends.

As I look forward to this Thanksgiving, and time with friends and family, I’m thankful that “hot pockets” are not on the menu. However, there are some things that do fit well in a pocket. And that has me remembering a few big things that I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with in the 21st century. Here are just a few I pulled out of the vault.

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Blog Category: Industrial Ethernet

Posted by: Heather MacKenzie on November 26, 2014

Every year, Control Engineering selects a slate of finalists for its Engineers' Choice Awards. This year, four Belden products are in the running. The products nominated are:

• Belden 600V Tray-Rated Cat 5e Cord Sets

• Hirschmann Lightly Managed Industrial Ethernet Switch

• Lumberg Automation PROFIBUS I/O Modules

• Tofino Industrial Networking Security Appliance

Each product has unique strengths. Let’s take a look at each of them to see why you might want to include them in your control networks – and vote for them!

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