Cisco Systems Inc. announced this week it plans to make switches specifically designed for factory automation, electrical utilities and other environments requiring high tolerance to heat, cold, vibration and surges.

The San Jose, Calif.-based equipment manufacturer said it will ship Industrial Ethernet 3000 Series Switches during the second quarter of 2008. The vendor says it will support up to 150 different port configurations for both copper and fiber networks, plus express setup capabilities and templates designed for industrial installations. Security features will include access control lists, 802.1x, network admission control and multi-level password protection.

The Industrial Ethernet 3000’s SwapDrive software configuration tool is designed to let employees replace switches without assistance from IT departments. It also supports the IEEE 1588 timing protocol, designed for high-performance applications and root causes analysis. Cisco is developing the switches with Rockwell Automation Inc. of Milwaukee, as part of their Ethernet to the Factory strategy.

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