Cisco and Emerson...say what?

According to Maciej Krantz, vice president of Cisco's wireless business group, the agreement that Cisco made with Rockwell last April was really "only for wired networking." So, Cisco has decided to work with Emerson for wireless networking. I wonder what Rockwell thinks they got out of the highly touted and supposedly "very close" relationship they have (had) with Cisco for the past five months? This was supposed to be a deep collaboration... I guess Cisco got a roving eye. And can you blame them? Rockwell's bit of the process industry is much smaller than Emerson's, even though process applications are a significant (roughly 26%) part of Rockwell sales. So, for now, at least, Cisco is going to be working with both. This is highly problematic, when deep discussions of a technical and strategic nature are taking place, because, as Maciej pointed out himself in his discussion yesterday, wired and wireless networking are in the last stages of convergence. Does this make sense for Emerson? Of course it does. For them, it is a no-brainer. Now that WirelessHART is a published standard, Emerson can insulate themselves from the very real possibility of SP100 coming apart by going forward with WirelessHART for the plant instruments and Cisco Open Network for the rest of the applications. John Berra, and other senior Emerson managers, were very clear: Emerson is committed to the SP100 process. Many of them also expressed concern over some issues within the SP100 committee, such as those raised by the signatories to the letter criticizing the PoO, or "Poo" as it is called. Personally, I think SP100 is in serious danger of falling apart, and dammit, that's not what we need. The management of the standard committee insist on positioning the ISA100.11a standard (whatever it will be when it grows up) as a rival standard to WirelessHART. That's simply insane. No, let me go further. That has to be from a desire to destroy SP100 from inside. Every time I call them on it, they backpedal, but for some reason ISA thinks they can produce a standard that will be able to wipe WirelessHART off the map, and do it by December. Not. Steve Sonnenberg, president of Rosemount, jokingly said to me yesterday, "Well, why don't they just declare WirelessHART to be ISA100.11a and go home?" Steve knows, as I do, that it ain't that easy. But it sure is tempting. WirelessHART is about half of the needed standard for plant floor instrumentation. What ISA100.11a needs to be is a complementary and interoperable standard with WirelessHART that provides the same sort of wireless integration for Profibus, Foundation Fieldbus, and other types of digital field instruments. As I said in my blog on Sunday, this is easy to do by providing a dual-stack architecture. So do it already! But what about the rest of what SP100 is trying to do? John Berra and others have put it eloquently. There is no way in Hell that ISA is going to supplant IEEE and the IT departments in all the Fortune 1000 and INC 5000 companies with a standard to replace 802.11x. In the first place, as I have tried to explain before, there is no business case for taking wireless away from IT, and IT certainly is going to resist it with all their hearts and souls. In the second place, in order to do that, you will have to provide a business case for the one ring network that will make companies stop, re-architecture how they do plant communications, and settle on a new, and very much un-tested standard-- instead of going ahead with 802.11x. Cisco, Apprion, and even Honeywell understand that all too well. So, clearly, does Emerson. If Emerson and Honeywell pretty much agree on this, why didn't the world end? But it didn't. And it won't. It is time, and far past time for ISA and the SP100 management to quit playing games and get down to the hard work of creating the standard that the end users are asking for. Remember the end users? Folks, those are the highly put upon people that you all will be selling this stuff to-- and they have long memories. Let's not do SP50 all over again.

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