New hardened switches promise enterprise features


Two manufacturers of industrial network switches have released new models for the toughest outdoor environments.

Sixnet LLC’s new top-of-the-line EL228 is a managed Ethernet switch with what the Ballston Lake, N.Y.-based company says is enterprise-class networking capabilities.

Meanwhile RuggedCom, of Concord, Ont., brought out two additions to its RuggedSwitch line, the RSG2288, a IEEE 1588 v2 enabled 9-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, and the 16-port RS416 Serial Server, which is now enabled with IEEE 1588 v2 on its integrated 4-port Ethernet switch.

These switches are aimed at power substations, outdoor railway signaling complexes and oil and gas pumping stations. All three are said to be able to work in temperatures as low as -40C to as high as +85C.

These two specialized manufacturers, along with Aaxeon, are fighting with Cisco Systems for the rugged switch market.

Among their targets are electrical utilities, who are looking at so-called intelligent smart-grids to avoid widespread electric overloads. Recently Ciscoannounced a partnership to build a smart grid solution.

Sixnet says the EL line will feature hardened switches with enterprise features such as 802.1x Radius (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) support, AES encryption and port- and MAC-based security on appliances with DIN rails.

Scott Killian, Sixtent’s director of connectivity, said that the goal is to make industrial Ethernet switches catch up to their data centre counterparts.

 “We’re taking these types of feature-sets and flexibility both to our current industrial-style products, and adding higher-end products into Layer 3 and better.”

Typically, the introduction of features of industrial switches lag behind those of data centre or commercial switches, he said. However, increasingly engineers in the energy, transportation and power industries are demanding more capabilities.

The EL228 is a response to that. In addition to the security features, it has optional dual power supplies, the ability to be front or reverse-mounted and 24 Fast Ethernet SFP ports for taking copper or fibre optic cable. It also includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The EL228’s price starts at US$2,000 for a switch with a single power supply.

RuggedCom says its 9-port RSG2288 gigabit Ethernet switch has cyber security and networking features make it suited for creating secure Ethernet networks for mission critical, real-time, control applications.

Because it has with sub 1µs time stamping accuracy, the manufacturer sadi the RSG2288 is can oversee time critical control networks such as IEC 68150 Process Bus that can simultaneously handle the continuous heavy offload of data from a substation’s intelligent electronic devices while providing accurate hardware assisted time stamping

With an optional GPS timing source card, the RSG2288 becomes the network’s IEEE 1588 Grand Master, the company said, supplying time synchronization for the substation and eliminating the need to connect with time sources through a wide area network.

The RuggedServer RS416 was designed to allow the migration from more expensive and less accurate timing methods to the new standards without having to replace all non-1588 IEDs.

The RS416 provides a means to synchronize non-1588 devices with emerging IEEE 1588 networks through an IEEE 1588 Slave clock on input and an IRIG-B timing signal output. This allows older IRIG-B devices to be in sync with the same master clock as newer IEEE 1588 IEDs, through either serial connection or dedicated IRIG-B cabling.


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