Mission-critical networks are the operational backbone of a business or organization who utilizes its services. Data in these systems must get delivered, regardless of circumstances, so practical issues like mobility, congestion, local interference, or hardware outages aren’t viable excuses. When these systems fail or get interrupted, the effects could be catastrophic. Mission-critical networks are generally expensive to set up and maintain, so they aren’t used by most workplaces.
Kinetic mesh networking is now being used to help data flow in mission-critical networks, providing consistent connectivity and delivering robust applications in real time. Here, companies such as Rajant Corporation are promoting the use of nodes to continually and instantaneously route data through the best available traffic path and frequency. Rajant Corporation uses nodes they refer to as “breadcrumbs,” which are multi-transceiver devices that can each have multiple redundant active connections.
“Building one of these networks is simple as Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs to find their way home,” says Todd Rigby, Director of Sales and in-house LTE expert for Rajant when I spoke with him about the topic. “You set out breadcrumbs, and connect them to AC/DC power. They will self-form their own network, continually monitor every one of their multiple connections, and always route data to optimal connections so you’re ensured the highest-performing network by itself.”
The best way to think about the concept is like having a smartphone attached to a WiFi network. You select your WiFi access point and only pick one, because WiFi protocol restricts you from having more than one active connection at a time. Since it’s a static network (meaning it doesn’t have intelligence or ability to route you to a different or maintain multiple connections), you are subject to any variability (signal strength, interference, congestion from other data sources traveling on the network, etc.) imposed on that single connection.
“Virtually every other network out there has static, meaning they have definitive routes and paths without built-in redundancy; meaning if you have any kind of problem, the only result is failure—which isn’t mission-critical,” Rigby notes. “Systems of intricate networks like electric or water utilities for example, depend on controlling switches of remote substations that deliver these resources to our homes and offices. If they can’t effectively transport water or electricity in their system, you’ll wind up turning on the tap or flip a switch and have nothing happen.”
Another way to show how resourceful kinetic mesh networking can be to mission-critical systems, is explaining its differences between conventional mesh networking. Aside from kinetic, the most common form of mesh networking is WiFi, which technically isn’t a “real mesh”, and a hybrid system of WiFi access points, along with point-to-point microwave connections. This makes for a good soundbite to masquerade what the system really is since mesh is a bit of a buzzword surrounded by a certain stigma.
“If you can make the product sound better than it is, sometimes companies engage in creative marketing,” says Rigby. “Kinetic mesh is one of the true ad hoc mesh networks, meaning any node can potentially connect with any other node, which is a huge fundamental difference.”
Another noteworthy distinction is that nodes like Rajant’s “breadcrumbs” have functionality of switch, router, bridge, gateway, and WiFi access points all in one device, which is like taking and packaging a whole networking cabinet into a single node. When networks know they need to improve or upgrade a particular segment, they’re faced with overwhelming decisions of having to extract huge amounts of physical networking gear and financial investment.
“What companies like Rajant that utilize kinetic mesh networking do, is allow network managers to leverage most of their existing infrastructure investment, and ‘play nice’ with other people’s products so you can use their devices as your last mile of connectivity, but still be interfaced with sensors and IoT endpoints,” Rigby adds. “You can then climb back into heavy infrastructure on the other end so data can get back to the enterprise with maximum reliability, multiple layers of redundancy, and military-grade security.”
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)