Cisco's Top Internet of Things Exec Resigns

Guido Jouret's departure comes at a time when the IoT—both the good and the bad—is getting significant attention from vendors.

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers and other executives have pointed to the burgeoning Internet of things—or what they call the Internet of everything—as the next significant transition in the tech industry and a direction that will be worth as much as $19 trillion for businesses worldwide by 2020.

The officials have said the company's technologies will be the foundation of the Internet of everything (IoE), and have been aggressive in building out Cisco's capabilities in such areas as cloud computing, networking, security and mobility. In October 2013, the company created a special unit dedicated to the Internet of things (IoT).

Now the company will have to move forward without the person who has led the charge for more than a year. Guido Jouret left the company May 8, a move first reported by networking blogger Brad Reese and later confirmed to media outlets by Cisco, which said Jouret wanted to pursue "a new opportunity."

Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group—which includes the IoT business—will now directly run it.

Cisco officials did not say where Jouret is going. His profile in LinkedIn still lists his Cisco job. Jouret had been with the company since 1994.

The leadership change comes at a time when IoT appears poised to take off. The term refers to the idea of vast numbers of systems and devices—from smartphones, tablets and wearable devices to manufacturing systems, traffic lights, appliances and cars—infused with intelligence and sensors and connected via the Internet. Such connectivity should lead to better business decisions, huge efficiencies and improved lifestyles, according to tech vendors and industry analysts.

Cisco officials see a significant opportunity, given the wide reach of the company's networking products and the products it's developing, from sensors to infrastructure to management software. According to numbers compiled by Cisco, the number of connected devices worldwide will grow from 10 billion to more than 50 billion, all of which will be churning out massive amounts of data that will need to be analyzed.

The company also has been active in standards groups developing IoT protocols, and has increased the amount of money it's investing in smaller IoT-based startup businesses, most recently increasing it to $150 million.

IDC analysts expect the IoT technology and services market to grow to $8.9 trillion by the end of the decade.

The promise and challenge of the IoT was on display in the Boston area this week. The city was host to Axeda's annual Connexion conference, where more than 600 attendees talked about what the Internet of things will mean to consumers, businesses and tech vendors. Across the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass., on May 7, a much smaller crowd convened to talk about the difficult and complex issue of security as tens of billions of devices are connected to the Internet. Stacy Cannady of Cisco and the Trusted Computing Group said that most mobile devices today have few security capabilities, so the thought of securing 50 billion or more is daunting.

"We have a very basic set of problems to solve on a very large scale," Cannady said.