Businesses run on data - data that ultimately comes from machines, sensors, and other mission-critical equipment that often uses a serial connection. Providing access to gather this data at scale, securely, reliably, and transparently is one of the most difficult tasks in managing a modern business, whether it be in the industrial, enterprise, retail or public sector.
To be able to continuously monitor, manage, and maintain this mission-critical equipment, it is necessary to be able to facilitate communication between the existing equipment and the applications that need to communicate with it. This involves being able to ensure that data is delivered accurately and seamlessly, regardless of the machine protocol used, and without having to upgrade the disparate pieces of critical equipment or requiring them to be constantly updated, recalibrated or recertified.
But there's a better way. Today, enterprises are upgrading their infrastructure to simplify the ways in which they access remote devices - without having to rip out their existing installations.
In this blog post, we introduce the Digi Connect® EZ family, and how these servers can simplify serial device connections, improve systemic reliability and resilience, and support your team's operational goals.
Meet the Digi Connect EZ Family
The Digi Connect EZ family provides physical access to equipment and machinery that performs critical functions for industrial and commercial applications - easily, anywhere. Digi Connect EZ solutions meet the needs of industrial and logistics applications, retail and hospitality use cases, as well as telecom and communications equipment applications and other critical deployments.
The Connect EZ family offers secure 1, 2, and 4 serial ports with 232/422/485 (MEI) individually software-selectable connections and provides flexible network connectivity options:
Digi Connect EZ Mini
One serial port
Digi Connect EZ 2
Two serial ports, with LTE
Digi Connect EZ 4
Four serial ports, LTE and Wi-Fi options
Digi Connect EZ 4i
Four serial ports, LTE and Wi-F options, industrial rating
Gigabit Ethernet provides the ability to connect to networks with extreme demands for low latency and that may need to carry a wide range of data types.
Wi-Fi allows flexible connectivity to wireless local networks and for additional wireless equipment to connect to the attached serial devices.
Cellular connectivity is available through the flexible LTE Digi CORE® Modules, allowing out-of-band connectivity to remote equipment without having to rely on other infrastructure, all with the flexibility and intelligence to adaptively manage and react to upstream disruptions by failing over to other methods as needed.
In non-technical language, this simply means that your operations team can focus on managing your critical infrastructure. Data can flow transparently between devices and key applications without requiring frequent intervention. Without Digi Connect EZ, network or maintenance alerts may require site visits, while with Connect EZ connectivity can be seamlessly restored over a different link.
Key Benefits of Digi Connect EZ Solutions
For the machine-to-machine customer who requires serial connections with high levels of security, data consistency, and ease of use, Digi Connect EZ serial device servers offer remote equipment access, utilizing the sophisticated Digi operating system (DAL) and other software to support efficient and secure operation.
Here are some of the key benefits of these integrated solutions.
Continual and growing threats to connected equipment installations require deployment of solutions that can not only meet current security requirements but also provide proactive protection against unforeseen threats.
Digi Connect EZ devices include both intrusion and cyber defense capabilities while also meeting strict legislative mandates such as California SB 327. Utilizing the multi-layer Digi TrustFence® security framework, Digi Connect EZ devices manage threats throughout the life-cycle of the device, from secure boot processes to authentication, secure connections and ongoing monitoring and support.
The Connect EZ family also integrates Digi Remote Manager®, Digi's sophisticated configuration and management platform, which offers automated security monitoring as well as market-leading scalability.
Digi Navigator™, Digi's new configuration tool for Connect EZ, along with intelligent product defaults and structured interfaces, offers a simple setup experience that allows most customers to get from unpacking the equipment to operational deployment in less than ten minutes.
Lowering Long-Term TCO
Connect EZ products are deployed for multi-year applications. Digi's secure-by-design approach supports automation and ease-of-use that dramatically improve security while lowering overall costs and simplifying the effort of implementing security best practices.
Use Cases and Examples
Different types of use cases involving equipment each have their own challenges to overcome. Let's cover some use cases and examples to help illustrate the ways in which Digi Connect EZ solutions support different types of environments, with varying connectivity, device types and levels of complexity.
Industrial and Logistics Applications
In these environments, operations staff need to monitor manufacturing equipment, track asset movement in their facility, track their supply chain inventory, and monitor finished goods from manufacturing through shipping.
All of these involve critical components that have to be deployed and used according to specifications. They must be assembled and installed correctly. In the chemical space, materials have to be mixed at correct pressure and temperature. All of this requires instrumentation around manufacturing and assembly to maintain product quality and integrity.
A variety of sensors, equipment and machines are therefore at work in the space - much of it with serial ports for access. Operations teams need to be able to implement automation to gather that information, monitor it, and look for anomalies. Data must be brought together over a variety of different kinds of networks - such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular - back to a central monitoring platform that supports business intelligence and decision-making, to maintain a focus on efficient operations and quality.
With Digi Connect EZ, operations teams can have improved visibility across their facilities, and can detect any process or equipment abnormalities for predictive and proactive maintenance, going to the equipment location with better advance information, and only when truly necessary.
Retail and Hospitality Applications
In retail and hospitality, operations managers need to manage various pieces of customer facing and back-of-house assets, frequently across multiple properties, and often these may involve financial or payment data, which means security is especially important.
While the equipment may be simpler, it often comes from a range of manufacturers. In addition to the importance of security, it is important for that information to be able to flow redundantly because if financial transactions come to a halt, it can bring the business to a standstill.
With Digi Connect EZ, enterprises have a means to connect critical equipment more flexibly and reliably, to provide their data to more than one monitoring system to have a way to fall back. In the event of a cable cut or an outage, these critical processes ensure that you maintain the patronage of your customers.
Telecom and Communications Equipment Applications
Remote telecommunications equipment needs to be manageable out of band. If network infrastructure ceases to operate it prevents communication of other mission critical systems. Connect EZ provides the ability to monitor, manage, and troubleshoot remote telecommunications and network equipment as well as to provide operational network backup connectivity in the case of a cable cut or equipment failure.
What Do These Use Cases Have in Common?
The essential functionality of Digi Connect EZ is to provide physical serial access to machinery that performs critical functions for industrial and enterprise applications. In all of these use cases it is critical for the systems that manage and connections that reach to this equipment be reliable, resilient, and secure. Equipment in each of these scenarios is highly variable, widely distributed, and critical to business operation. From operations teams, to field technicians, to system operators and network administrators, personnel have the daily challenge of maintaining operational efficiency of complex systems.
Digi Connect EZ, offers a unified method of connecting serial and network-based devices to provide reliable, scalable, secure, and transparent access - across all the network environments that apply in these different application spaces.
These solutions help to solve the challenge of managing mission-critical complex systems with different types of connectivity, whether for automation or remote access applications, so you and your team have peace of mind and can focus on your core business.
What Sets Digi Connect EZ Apart?
In addition to excellent security, centralized management and ease-of-use, Digi Connect EZ is designed for a long product lifecycle and the ability to integrate this technology with whatever solution you have already deployed. Out-of-the-box, your EZ solution will create business efficiency, as well as uniformity in how your team solves daily challenges.
The Connect EZ product family provides data fidelity, data reliability, flexibility and easy configuration. It provides the ability to optimize data framing, to be resilient, and to simplify how you manage a range of equipment and connections, centralized management, security.
Finally, Digi Connect EZ is not just a product. It's the Next generation solution from Digi designed to help you manage your business, and it is extremely simple to deploy. Digi is a leader and pioneer in serial technology and critical connectivity solutions with over 35 years of experience solving connectivity challenges and providing leading edge solutions. Our focus is to ensure that your Digi solutions work as expected with just a few simple steps, out-of-the box. We will partner with you to support your needs and requirements - so you can focus on your business instead of managing complexity.
Contact us today to start a conversation!