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From outdated to outstanding—revolutionizing manufacturing data centers

By Vinnie Strey, Senior Marketing Manager, Manufacturing, HPE Aruba Networking

Unmasking the woes of legacy data centers in manufacturing

The data surge in manufacturing is reshaping operations, demanding timely access to data across diverse centers of data that are often housed in varying footprints, from small server rooms near the plant-floor to large colocated data centers. However, given the extended obsolescence and update cycles in manufacturing to maintain non-stop production, those data centers are often years or decades old. I highlight five problems derived from this:

  1. Outdated technology stack. Deploying applications can be limited by the ability of the underlying data center hardware to support new architectures. Engineers could not have predicted the diversity of microservices required by current manufacturing applications opposed to past monolithic purpose-built manufacturing applications.
  2. Heightened security risks. A manufacturing data center can host many applications in different layers of the Purdue Model, from supervisory control (Layer 2) to ERP systems (Layer 5). Legacy data center architectures did not account for the expansion of advanced threats that are looking to pivot from the IT periphery to critical operational services, such as process control.
  3. Limited transparency. Legacy data centers can be limited to the information provided that would allow proper resource allocation, security posture, uptime monitoring, and reliability analysis, among others. Manufacturers need more transparency to make optimal decisions on the data center and hosted applications.
  4. Inadequate performance. Smart manufacturing relies on high-performance computing and real-time data processing. Legacy architectures may not have the processing power or speed required to handle the analytics, machine learning, and other computational tasks essential for smart manufacturing processes.
  5. High maintenance costs. Maintaining and upgrading legacy systems can be costly and time consuming. With the manufacturing sector facing economic uncertainties with limited access to capital, resources are constrained. These costs can hinder the capital resources for the adoption of new technologies and the necessary infrastructure improvements required for smart manufacturing.

All these problems limit production execution and negatively influence the mission of manufacturing companies: making products to generate revenue and deliver returns to their shareholders.

HPE Aruba Networking—getting data center networking ready for smart manufacturing

The limitations of legacy data centers can be offset by improvements in data center networking. HPE Aruba Networking offers a security-first, next-generation data center networking solution. At the core, there are two components: the industry-first DPU-enabled HPE Aruba Networking CX 10000 top-of-rack switch and HPE Aruba Networking Central with Fabric Composer. Since I mentioned five problems, I will also bring five ways on how HPE Aruba Networking improves data center performance through networks for manufacturers.

  1. Reduced complexity. There is a significant gap of skilled professionals in many manufacturing sectors, including IT. Hence, simplicity is a highly desired feature. The CX 10000 performs functions typically delivered by expensive services and network appliances, including east-west firewalling, security policy enforcement, VPN tunnel termination, and network address translation.
  2. Enhanced visibility. Since all server traffic traverses the top-of-rack switch, the CX 10000 has visibility to all workload-to-workload communication, no matter if they are inside the same server, on different servers, within the same rack, or across different racks. This information is key to real-time monitoring of manufacturing applications and respective interoperability.
  3. Mitigate IT and OT security risks. This deeper visibility allows the CX 10000 to provide granular segmentation and, therefore, reduce the surface of attack across the entire data center fabric. Network segmentation is the number one control for OT security. The CX 10000 helps protect critical services that keep production running and maintain workers safe in the industrial environment.
  4. Improved elasticity. IT teams in manufacturing are usually the last ones to be informed about investments from lines of business but cannot afford to be the bottleneck for their implementation. The HPE Aruba Networking data center networking solution delivers up to 100X the scale versus traditional centralized designs to respond faster to ever-changing requirements from internal stakeholders.
  5. Faster provisioning. The HPE Aruba Networking data center networking solution reduces troubleshooting to minutes or seconds with built-in workflows that automate thousands of CLI instructions, minimizing any network downtime required to reestablish manufacturing services or implement changes.

In a manufacturing landscape where technological upgrades must align with monetary gains, HPE Aruba Networking offers a standout solution for maximizing financial returns and ensuring a future where data centers are not hindrances but financial assets. For more details, please check out Harnessing data center networks for manufacturing intelligence  and our data center networking hub.