Cisco Systems officials are looking to leverage the company’s “fog computing” initiative to drive its push to become the foundational technology provider for the burgeoning Internet of things.
Cisco CEO John Chambers has said the Internet of things (IoT) will be the most significant transition in the tech industry since the Internet, and that he intends Cisco to be a leading player in it. Fog computing—the idea of putting applications, storage, analytics and other distributed computing capabilities at the edge of the network—will be a key part of the effort.
The company also has created an IoT business unit.
The networking giant in January introduced its IOx platform, which enables organizations to build, manage and run applications and operating systems directly on Cisco network devices, such as hardened switches, routers and IP video cameras, putting the computing capabilities closer to where the bulk of IoT devices will be housed. At the Cisco-sponsored IoT World Forum 2014 in Chicago this week, the company expanded its IoT efforts with the introduction of the second phase of IOx, including adding to the list of Cisco products that support IOx.
In addition, the company outlined its Internet of Everything (IoE) Software and Services Suite, which enables customers to take the data collected by the various endpoints in an IoT deployment, analyze it, and move it on to the proper people and business processes, according to officials.
Cisco also announced the winners of more than $550,000 in prize money for challenges the company issued earlier this year around IoT innovation and security. At the same time, Cisco is giving the winners mentoring, training and business advice from Cisco and other organizations to help them develop, test and pilot their technologies.
The IoT has been talked about a lot over the past couple of years, and vendors and analysts expect it to grow rapidly. Cisco has said that by 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide, and IDC analysts believe that by the same year, global IoT revenues will reach $7.1 trillion. Several industry consortiums have cropped up over the past year to build open frameworks for the IoT. At the same time, Gartner analysts in August said the IoT had taken the position atop the firm’s hype cycle.
However, the message coming out of the show from Cisco this week is that the Internet of things is already well under way, and promises to get much bigger.
“IoT has swiftly moved beyond the hype and has already entered into what I call, ‘hyper progress,'” Wim Elfrink, executive vice president of industry solutions and chief globalization officer at Cisco, wrote in a post on the company blog.
Elfrink noted that over the past year, IoT connections have increased from 10.7 billion things to 13.7 billion things, and by 2017, the number of industrial connections will grow beyond those of consumer connections. IoT revenues have reached $2.3 trillion, growing about 19 percent a year over the past three years and three to four times faster than IT overall, and the number of sensors shipped in the past year jumped about 150 percent, to 23.6 billion units.
Cisco Expands Fog Computing Initiative for IoT
He also pointed to acquisitions major tech firms have made recently for smaller IoT-focused companies, including Samsung’s $200 million deal for SmartThings, Amazon’s $1 billion Twitch deal and Cisco’s own $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs. Overall, companies have spent $5.3 billion in 18 IoT-related deals this year, and about 190 IoT-related startups have formed this year, with venture capital investments coming in around $3 billion since 2012.
Cisco’s Chambers has said the economic opportunity to businesses worldwide will be $19 trillion by 2020.
It is numbers like these that are convincing Cisco and other tech companies about the growth opportunities in the IoT, and why the networking vendor is innovating so quickly.
In the latest phase of its IOx platform, Cisco is adding support to 16 other product lines, including 819, 88x and 89x series routers. In addition, company officials unveiled the IOx Application Management Module, enabling customers to centrally manage fog computing applications running on Cisco’s IOx platform, which will help businesses make managing and monitoring millions of endpoints and applications easier and less expensive.
Cisco officials also talked about the vendor’s IoE Software and Services Suite, a combination of software and services aimed at helping business derive usable information from all the data being collected. They pointed to the company’s announcement in September of Cisco’s Video Surveillance Manager 7.6 that makes it easier for customers to manage edge-based video applications running on distributed endpoints.
The IoT has a number of particular requirements that need to be met, according to Kip Compton, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Internet of Things Systems and Software Group.
“How do we make sure that the right critical information is being processed while conserving bandwidth and having a resilient network?” Compton said in a post on the Cisco blog. “Here at Cisco, ‘fog computing’ is a clear technology vision, with the means to provide greater visibility and control [and] having the network and applications process the critical data in concert with the cloud.”