New ARC Research: Routers for the IIoT

By Chantal Polsonetti

Category:
Technology Trends

As a component of the broader industrial network infrastructure ecosystem, the industrial fixed Ethernet & cellular router markets exhibit many of the same trends as those found in related segments such as switches and gateways. Network routers provide layer 3 routing functionalities between similar network types and are distinct from network gateways used to interface different types of networks, e.g., serial to Ethernet. Virtually all routers have gateway functionality, but not all gateways perform routing.

More Sophisticated Requirements Means More High End Routers

Increasing recognition of the business value proposition for remote access and monitoring, coupled with increased adoption of industrial-internet enabled business improvement strategies, are primary catalysts behind anticipated continued evolution in router technology and application. Along with the findings in ARC’s other industrial network infrastructure research, the router market exhibits a continued broadening of the functional spectrum. At one end of the spectrum lie numerous low-cost routers that continue to be sold for simple remote access and SCADA-type applications. At the other, expanding end of the spectrum, we see an increasing number of high-end routers designed to meet escalating demands for cloud integration, edge computing, and local storage capabilities brought on by the rising importance of internet-enabled strategies.

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Fixed Routers are a Main Component of the Industrial Network Infrastructure Tier

Central to the anticipated continued evolution in industrial network infrastructure functionality is the transition from simple, one-way, off-line remote SCADA-type access to increasing requirements for cloud integration. Demand for web-based remote access and monitoring applications in industries such as oil & gas, energy, and water & waste extends to the need to provide cloud-based access for device configuration and management, remote access and monitoring, data storage, and/or application execution. Options for how to achieve this integration range from standard protocol support to ecosystem participation, embedded platform agents, and edge computing.

New Frontiers in Connectivity

Network connectivity itself will undergo significant transformation in the coming years. The prospect of 5G connectivity promises numerous potential incremental improvements, while LPWAN technologies, such as Sigfox and LoRA, also target applications served by existing cellular technologies. Migration of traditionally enterprise-associated SD-WAN technology to the network edge also heralds significant change, including potential displacement of some traditional routers.

These are just some of the findings resulting from ARC’s recent research into the market for fixed industrial Ethernet & cellular routers, which includes quantified forecasts highlighting the timeline and impact of issues such as 5G adoption, amount and type of cloud integration, and estimated use for edge computing. Further information on this just-released analysis can be found at https://www.arcweb.com/market-studies/fixed-industrial-ethernet-cellular-network-routers.

ARC also invites you to participate in a short survey related to the role of the network edge in the era of cloud computing. Issues related to the IIoT-driven transformation of the industrial network edge will be highlighted during the IoT Network Edge Infrastructure sessions at ARC’s 22nd Annual Industry Forum, which takes place February 12-15, 2018 in Orlando.

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