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Cisco Unveils IoT Ecosystem

Lorna GareyCisco on Monday announced its IoT System infrastructure, aimed at enabling end-to-end control of Internet of Things networks comprising diverse endpoints, platforms and data sources. The architecture is based on six technology “pillars” as well as 15 new hardware and software offerings.

The six pillars of the IoT System are:

  • Network connectivity, including purpose-built IoT routing, switching and wireless products, some ruggedized
  • Fog computing, a distributed IoT infrastructure that extends data analytics capabilities to the network edge, thereby enabling IT to analyze and manage data locally, and thus deliver business insights more quickly. Dependent on Cisco’s IOx data processing platform. 
  • Unified physical and logical security via integration of Cisco’s IP surveillance and network products with TrustSec security and cloud/cybersecurity products
  • An optimized data-analytics infrastructure to generate actionable data for both the Cisco Connected Analytics Portfolio and third-party analytics software
  • Management and automation that cut across siloes for wrangling an increasing volume of endpoints and application
  • The Application Enablement Platform, a set of APIs that enable developers to build apps that extend IoT System capabilities (see our take on APIs and security here).

Among the new IoT hardware products are an array of switches, wireless APs and seven new industrial routers with Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE connectivity as well as new high-end IP camera hardware with audio and digital sensors and related applications. On the software side, new Fog data services on the IOx platform allow for better analysis of data at the edge and in motion, and new management software allows operators to …

… monitor and customize IoT networks as well as applications running at the network edge. This management platform gives administrators control of application settings and life cycle, for easier access and visibility into large-scale IoT deployments. 

The company also announced an array of launch partners, including Covacsis, GE, CGI, Intel, Klas Telecom, Toshiba and Rockwell Automation.

The concept of fog computing refers to the fact that not every scrap of data needs to travel to the cloud or main data center for analysis. For remote sensors that generate hundreds of readings per day, some analysis can be done on the edge, with periodic reports — that is, unless an anomaly is detected, in which case a notification can be made in near real-time. An example Cisco often cites that has new immediacy in the wake of the recent derailment in Philadelphia is positive train control.

In fact, Cisco’s IoT announcements are largely focused on transportation, as well as the manufacturing, oil & gas, utilities, defense, public safety and smart cities verticals.

Thus far, “heterogeneity” hasn’t exactly been a watchword for IoT, so the ability to select off-the-shelf ruggedized devices, a unified management and security framework, and the ability to run analytics at the network edge, all without having to invest in training personnel on new interfaces, will no doubt be attractive to many partners and customers. Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s IoT Systems and Software Group, confirmed that read.

“IoT is complex, but many customers want an integrated system within a heterogeneous environment,” said Compton in a statement.

Andres Sintes, senior director of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, Enterprise Networking and IoT/IoE Solutions, says the IoT System will also allow partners to expand into the operational technology (OT) market and help them help customers converge IT and OT strategies.

“This allows businesses to make decisions faster, become more efficient, save money, render their operations safer and improve customer service,” says Sintes, adding that partners can also extend into new verticals by selling this integrated system.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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