For all their power and capability, Ethernet switches are delicate creatures. Often found in the comfortable climates of data centres and wiring closets, they usually don’t react well to extreme temperatures or dusty air.

Such fussiness has made them difficult to deploy in manufacturing environments, where noise, vibrations and particle-riddled air is often part of the equation. The problem faced by many companies, however, is that Ethernet is making its way into these unwelcoming arenas, and the switches have to be there one way or another. Cisco Systems Inc. is hoping customers will find the answer to this dilemma in the form of the latest addition to its Catalyst 2950 family, the Cisco Catalyst 2955 Series.

The 12-port local area network switch sports features found on regular Cisco switches, such as fast Ethernet and gigabit Ethernet connectivity and intelligent switching services. The 2955, however, goes beyond other offerings in three key areas, according to Manrique Brenes, product manager for Cisco’s Desktop Switching Business Unit, Ethernet Access Group.

First, the components that make up the switch are industrial-grade, allowing the product to withstand temperatures ranging from -40