EoIP (Everything over IP) isn't far away
Ethernet, invented in 1973, has literally become a household word. Every computer sold today has an Ethernet interface. Virtually all commercial buildings are now wired for Ethernet and most home builders are now wiring homes for Ethernet. Ethernet outlets (RF45 sockets) have become almost as commonplace as 115V power outlets. In the world of Information Technology (IT), it is taken for granted that Ethernet is the common communications carrier for data and, in many cases, voice. However, there are pockets of industry where Ethernet communications are considered to be in their infancy.
These industries are involved with real-time control systems or real-time video monitoring. They have utilized proprietary and/or real-time serial communications for many years. Ethernet and IP communications were always considered too unreliable and non-real-time to be used by systems that required determinate and real-time communications. However, as IP communications have become pervasive, the technology to transport information, using IP, has also become much better and faster. Today we hear the terms Voice over IP (VoIP) and TV over IP (TVoIP) nearly every day, and some prognosticators are saying Everything over IP (EoIP) isn't far away.
Innovations in Ethernet switch technology have improved latency and speed for Ethernet communications and allowed the creation of new protocols to set priorities that reduce latency even more. Today, the term Industrial Ethernet describes an Ethernet network that is trusted by most control system designers to provide the communications speed and determination required by control systems. Because Ethernet ports have become so prolific and the electronics so highly integrated, it is now the lowest-cost communications interface available. The latest trend is to integrate Ethernet ports into system elements. In the security and surveillance industry, we expect elements such as video cameras, door locks, badge readers and keypads will be increasingly equipped with Ethernet ports. In the industrial automation industry, we also anticipate sensors of all types and control elements to be equipped with Ethernet ports.
Ethernet and IP communications are no longer the exclusive domain of the IT department. With the proliferation of Ethernet into control applications--whether traffic lights on street corners, the industrial factory floor, or in security and access control systems--it is rapidly becoming the communications infrastructure of choice. These additional applications will only enhance the Ethernet's capability as we develop better network elements to provide the communications functionality required by new and different electronic systems.
Bob Martin is manager of marketing and business development for EtherWAN. He can be reached at 817-812-3540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.