FactoryTalk Network Manager

Santa Thangavel

by: Santa Thangavel

Manufacturers on the road to IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) will be one step closer when Rockwell Automation launches its dedicated network management software. It’s currently the only missing piece in the Connected Enterprise. I caught a glimpse of the beta version of Factory-Talk Network Manager recently at RATechED 2017 in Orlando, FL.

Network security is the spine of Connected Enterprise. And end-to-end connectivity is Rockwell’s goal. In conjunction with Cisco – the world’s largest networking company – Rockwell has created a variety of network devices that run on Cisco IOS. And let’s not forget RA’s Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture, the momentous reference guide for designing a plant-wide network connected to the enterprise network.

Rockwell’s network product line includes unmanaged and managed switches, access points for wireless connectivity throughout the factory floor, routers and security appliances that prevent the plant network from intense cyber-attacks, communication modules and embedded switches that link to other automation devices. Apart from products, solutions like Industrial Data centers are designed and configured based on the customer requirements.

The only missing piece in this network portfolio is the standalone software to manage and monitor your factory network. During my visit TechEd, Rockwell announced that FactoryTalk will be released around Automation Fair later this year.

This plug-and-play software is expected to improve visibility and diagnostics of your network because automation assets are critical when connected over a network.

The beta version discovers the plant floor network and provides many enhanced topology views. It also provides real-time capture of alarms, events, configuration, backup and export capabilities and is very easy to deploy. This software would be the final brick in Rockwell’s castle of industrial network architecture. It also offers the physical view of network devices and supports encompass partner devices.

This software will make network engineers very happy. Now you will have the ability to track the precise cause of network downtime and prevent future episodes with access to real-time statistics. You also won’t have to check the entire network to figure out which node is causing an issue. And, with remote access to the server, you can monitor all network devices at once.

Rockwell also added that this software will be in the lines of IT Network Management software like Solarwinds & PRTG Monitor.

Industrial data centers, industrial network devices, industrial wireless and industrial network management software – all converged onto the factory floor! I see this as a game changer for most of the manufacturers who need total plant security.

Santa Thangavel

Santa Thangavel
Network Security and Information Product Manager

“Santa” was born and raised in India, where he received his B.S. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Anna University. Santa co-founded a small electronics firm in India called Evergreen Electronics and manufactured GSM modems and Pic Programmer kits. Santa came to the U.S. to get his master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Texas. After a stint as network engineer at Sharp Infotech in Texas, he found his way to EECO’s Richmond location. Santa serves as Network Security and Information Product Manager. In his spare time, you may find Santa hanging from a zipline or chilling in some rapids.

Bonus! Santa is a CCNA Routing and Switching certified network engineer.

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