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.
Cisco Makes Platform Play in IoT
Security—being able to protect technology assets and to respond to attacks—and data analytics are two other pillars. The security capabilities include leveraging Cisco’s TrustSec technology, while analytics means not only taking advantage of the vendor’s Connected Analytics portfolio, but also third-party analytics software.
Management and automation, as well as an application enablement platform—which includes a set of APIs that partners, third-party vendors, industries and cities can use to build and deploy their own software on top of the IoT System—are the final two pillars.
Along with the IoT System, the company also announced 15 new offerings that are part of the platform. The products include network switches and routers, wireless access points, IP surveillance cameras, security analytics software, fog data services that enable operators to enable users to monitor and act on data flowing through the IoT environment, and the IoT Field Network Director management software, which provides customized network infrastructure monitoring on an industrial scale.
Given its projected scale, the IoT presents Cisco and many other tech vendors with significant growth opportunities and the ability to return to their “traditional technological comfort zones,” according to Charles King, president and principal analyst of Pund-IT.
“IoT mostly consists of projects and efforts that vendors know how to do so well—develop, deploy, manage and maintain often huge and hugely complex computing infrastructures and connected devices,” King wrote in a research note. “That’s in stark contrast to cloud, which, in its purest sense, delivers highly targeted IT services by cost-effectively leveraging off-the-shelf components.”
Cisco is in a good position to take advantage of the IoT, given its leadership in the networking market and its efforts over the past several years to build out its portfolios in areas such as security, analytics and data center infrastructure, including its Unified Computing Systems integrated solutions, he wrote.
“The company’s past accomplishments make it a natural player in the space, and Cisco’s commercial success in areas (like its UCS) that initially appeared unrelated to its core businesses means that the company’s efforts should be taken seriously,” King wrote.