Cisco Makes Platform Play in IoT

The vendor brings together a wide range of technologies and introduces new offerings that comprise its new Cisco IoT System.

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Cisco Systems is pulling together a broad array of existing products and adding more than a dozen new offerings to create what officials are calling a platform for the Internet of things.

The company this week unveiled its IoT System, a collection of products that touch everything from networking and security to management and analytics that offers users a complete set of tools to manage not only the massive, complex and diverse set of systems, endpoints and platforms needed for the Internet of things, but also the increasingly huge amounts of data they will generate.

The connecting of the multitudes of devices, converging of unrelated networks and analyzing of the data that needs to be done in an IoT world can be complex. It's made even more so when throwing the needed security into the mix. Through the IoT System, Cisco is offering an infrastructure to reduce the complexity, according to Kip Compton, vice president and general manager of Cisco's IoT Systems and Software Group.

"Customers are really looking for a more managed, integrated approach to their infrastructure," Compton said during a Web conference with analysts and journalists before the offering was announced June 29.

The IoT—which is part of a larger system that Cisco officials call the Internet of everything (IoE), which includes not only devices and things, but also people and applications—is the largest transition in the tech world since the Internet, according to outgoing CEO John Chambers. Cisco officials estimate that by 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide, twice the number from last year, all of them generating massive amounts of data that needs to be collected and analyzed. At the same time, securing these devices and data is becoming increasingly important.

The financial impact of the IoE on businesses worldwide could hit $19 trillion by 2020, according to Chambers.

Cisco's IoT System is built upon six "pillars," areas that company officials see as key to the Internet of things. The pillars include network connectivity—including routing, switching and wireless products—as well as fog computing, a term used to describe bringing the processing and analyzing of data out to the edge of the network, closer to the devices that are generating and using the data. For distributed environments like the IoT, it's important to enable customers to get immediate insights from their data, officials said.

Cisco is predicting that, by 2018, 40 percent of IoT-created data will be processed in the fog. More than 25 of Cisco's network products include IOx, the vendor's fog computing—or edge data processing—platform, Compton said.