Blog · 22 Jan 2021

How manufacturers can avoid downtime in an IoT world

65% of manufacturing environments run outdated operating systems.

Miguel Nunes
BT Systems Engineering team, Cisco

It’s an exciting, but challenging, time to work in manufacturing.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) in the manufacturing sector. IoT devices and apps have the potential to create and share vital new data, boosting efficiencies across production processes, through complex global supply chains and out to customers and partners. However, in 2019, Trend Micro released a report stating that 65% of manufacturing environments run outdated operating systems. 

If the infrastructure these organisations are now dependent on is decades old, IoT will struggle to live up to its promise.

It’s easy to see how this has happened. Manufacturing operations are always-on, with relentless heavy demands on critical production environments and supply chains. Manufacturers are so busy delivering that they feel they simply don’t have the luxury of time to refresh technology that is currently working.

But there are real risks in maintaining this status quo.

The challenge of staying the same

For one thing, the proliferation of connected devices increases an organisation’s attack surface and therefore their operational risks. According to Cisco research, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) devices are set to number in their billions by 2022, making up 51% of all networked devices globally[1]. But if network connectivity and visibility is poor, IT teams can’t ‘see’ these devices: and that means billions of invisible opportunities for network-level attacks. This could be anything from malicious software threats, to radio frequency identification (RFID) spoofing, to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

An unreliable network also creates another problem: everything is fine, until the moment it isn’t. At best, clunky connectivity can mean data is slow to move between devices. Worse still, this slows down business operations. And at very worst, old network components can fail completely, leading to entire manufacturing processes grinding to a halt.

And of course: this is excruciatingly expensive. One manufacturing customer was losing millions of dollars due to system outages before they got rid of their outdated networking equipment.

So, what should manufacturers do to bring business-critical systems up-to-date for an IoT-driven world?

Manufacturing: the next generation

We know that today’s manufacturing networks demand reliable connectivity, excellent visibility, security at every level, and automation through software-defined networking.

Switching to Cisco technology, delivered over BT’s vast global network, is a low-risk path to faster, more cost-effective, next-generation manufacturing. We can replace your technology without disruption, giving you a standard set of products across your global infrastructure, and a network you can rely on for data-driven business operations. And with our reliable managed services on top, you get support with bandwidth capacity planning and forecasting to keep your business-critical applications performing optimally at all times.

What’s more, security is at the heart of our joint operations. BT blocks 6,500 cyber-attacks per day and 100 million malicious communications per month[2], while Cisco analyses 28 million flows on a daily basis, logging 1.2 trillion security events daily[3].

The result? You can transform your infrastructure, reduce your risk, lower your costs, and take full advantage of the future of manufacturing.

Find out more

Get in touch to find out how BT and Cisco could help you transform your infrastructure.


[1] Source: Cisco VNI Forecast Highlights Tool
[2] Source: BT
[3] Source: Cisco 2020 Global Network Trends Report, Cisco, 2020