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Cisco brings together products and services to form IoT system

Steve Rogerson
July 2, 2015
Cisco has amalgamated IoT products and services from itself and its partners to produce an IoT system that provides analytics, network-based security, frameworks and pre-integrated products. The company claims this can provide a foundation for the transformation of industries.
The system is said to simplify large-scale management of networked devices and objects, and provide business insights more quickly via a data analytics platform at the network's edge.
"The Cisco IoT system provides a comprehensive set of IoT technologies and products that simplify and accelerate the deployment of infrastructure for the internet of things,” saidKip Compton, general manager of Cisco’s IoT systems and software group. “This unique systems approach delivers a framework that makes it possible to deploy, accelerate and innovate with IoT."
Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices and objects will be connected to the internet by 2020. Yet today, more than 99 per cent of things in the physical world remain unconnected. To capitalise on the unprecedented opportunities presented by this wave of digitisation, companies and cities are increasingly deploying IoT products and services.
However, digitisation can be complex. Users are often connecting devices and objects – or converging unrelated networks –- at previously unprecedented scales. Furthermore, they can only realise the value of these connections through the application of advanced data analytics and, even then, they often still need to create a new class of intelligent applications capable of accelerating new business models or increasing productivity. Of course, all this has to happen without ever sacrificing security at any point in the system, from the device to the data centre and via the cloud.
The Cisco IoT system is said to address the complexity of digitisation with an infrastructure that is designed to manage large-scale systems of diverse endpoints and platforms, and the data deluge they create. It comprises six technology elements or pillars which – when combined together into an architecture – help reduce the complexities of digitisation. The company also announced 15 IoT products within the six pillars.
The six pillars are network connectivity, fog computing, security, data analytics, automation management and application enablement. The network connectivity pillar includes purpose-built routing, switching and wireless products available in ruggedised and non-ruggedised form factors.
Fog is a distributed computing infrastructure for the IoT that extends computing capability – and thereby data analytics applications – to the edge of networks. It enables users to analyse and manage data locally, and thereby derive immediate insights from connections. Cisco predicts that 40 per cent of IoT-created data will be processed in the fog by 2018. Over 25 of Cisco's network products are enabled with Cisco's fog computing or IOx edge data processing platform.
The security pillar unifies cyber and physical security to deliver operational benefits and increase the protection of physical and digital assets. Cisco's IP surveillance portfolio and network products with TrustSec security and cloud and cyber security products allow users to monitor, detect and respond to combined IT and operational technology (OT) attacks.
There is an optimised infrastructure to implement analytics and harness actionable data for both the Cisco connected analytics portfolio and third party analytics software.
The IoT system provides enhanced security, control and support for multiple siloed functions to deliver a way to manage an increasing volume of endpoints and applications. Field operators need an easy-to-use management system.
There is a set of APIs for industries, cities, ecosystem partners and third-party vendors to design, develop and deploy their own applications on the foundation of the IoT system capabilities.
Out of the 15 new IoT products, most are in network connectivity: the IE5000 is a purpose-built IE switch that brings connectivity to factory-level manufacturing and cities; the IW3702 wireless access point is for connected mass transit systems and city Wifi; the IR 809 and IR 829 series comprises seven industrial routers with Wifi and 4G-LTE connectivity, for transportation or IoT application deployments; and there is a 4G-LTE module for CGR 1000 for utilities. This mobile IP gateway (MIG-2450) is for connected railways. The 5921 embedded services routers extend the reach of industrial networking into remote environments.
In physical and cyber security, the 360Ëš 5MP and 720p IP camerascater to versatile environments and can host third-party software applications. Features include 360Ëš view for situational awareness and audio and digital sensors. Camera applications include audio detection, sensor aggregation, audio message triggers, metadata generation, local video player and video summarisation.
Fog data services allow operators to create policies that monitor and take actions on data flowing through the IoT environment (data-in-motion). They reside on the IOx platform so users can integrate custom policies with applications.
The IoT field network director is management software that allows operators to monitor and customise IoT network infrastructure for industrial scale. And the fog director allows central management of multiple applications running at the edge. This management platform gives administrators control of application settings and lifecycle, for easier access and visibility into large-scale IoT deployments.
The system should enable industry verticals such as manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, transportation, public safety and smart cities to deploy and accelerate IoT implementations and realise business benefits with targeted products.
An early test for the system came in Italy. Network and infrastructure equipment integrator for motorways Valtellina recently completed a deployment for the Autostrada Pedemenontana motorway company on behalf of Co.Va of Bologna, a consortium led by NBI and Argo Construction Infrastructure. For the Pedemontane Highways project in northern Italy, its specialists installed the Cisco IoT system, underpinned by Cisco IE 3000 switches.
“The customer is now able to launch new services and innovative applications such as the FreeFlow road toll collection system,” said Cesare Valtellina, commercial and marketing director at Valtellina. “This eliminates the need for drivers to stop at the traditional tollgates and as a result maximises traffic flows. Based on our experience, the IoT system approach represents a leading-edge reference model in terms of efficiency and infrastructural reliability."
Companies that have already ported their software applications to run on the Cisco fog computing system include GE (Predix), Itron (Riva), OSIsoft (PI), SmartFOA in Japan, Bit Stew, Davra, SK Solutions and Toshiba.
"GE and Cisco have a shared vision for the power of the industrial internet of things to transform industries,” saidJohn Magee, CMO for GE Software. “Cisco's continued innovation in solutions that make it easier to connect to machines and devices of all types and to move intelligence to the edge of the network are helping our mutual customers take full advantage of the industrial internet to drive new levels of efficiency and to create new revenue streams."
And Simon Pontin, chief technology officer at Itron, said:"Together, Itron and Cisco are providing an open, end-to-end, standards-compliant network for smart utility operations, which forms the foundation for the internet of things. An active grid that solves problems in real time and leverages connected devices at the edge is fundamental to IoT for energy and water. With the Cisco IoT system, our joint customers around the world can more easily realise the promise of the IoT, including distributed analytics, real-time monitoring and dynamic control in the network itself."
Martin Otterson, senior vice president at OSIsoft, added: "OSIsoft is pleased to support Cisco's IoT System as it complements our vision and experience in industrial IoT and operational intelligence. Cisco's platform satisfies customers' key requirements for off-the-shelf hardened devices, central management and security framework, and compatibility with existing network personnel's skill sets as they deploy an enterprise-wide real-time data infrastructure such as OSIsoft's PI system. Applications are numerous and diverse across all industries. With more data collection at higher quality and resolution from the edge of operations enabled by the IoT system, businesses can expect to see a significant impact to their bottom line."
Toshiba is working to generate new values by connecting energy, healthcare and storage products and services by using cloud computing and big data technologies, with the aim of realising a safe, secure and comfortable human smart community.
"Toshiba sincerely welcomes Cisco to introduce clear guidance for IoT development,” said Noriyasu Okitani, general manager of Toshiba’s IoT business creative division. “By combining cloud technology with IoT, M2M and edge computing, we will apply human smart community to a broader range of devices, expanding it to manufacturing systems, traffic and transport systems, and smart cities."
Cisco has also announced the addition of Covacsis, which is taking advantage of Cisco IOx to provide predictive analytics to manufacturing industries.
"Covacsis' IPF intelligent plant framework uses the Cisco IoT system to create innovative solutions for our manufacturing customers,” saidTarun Mishra, CEO of Covacsis. “The flexibility of the Cisco IoT hardware platform offers Covacsis' application to communicate with the devices in an easier manner and hence helping us in providing value to our customers. We look forward to designing additional products with the Cisco IoT system and deploying them in new markets."
Cisco also provides consulting and professional services for the IoT. The company says its networking expertise combined with its technology partners' expertise should help accelerate transformation and ensures IT and operational technology alignment.
"The IoT is a significant opportunity but one that needs interoperability and scale to fulfil industry predictions of billions of connected devices,” said Doug Davis, senior vice president and general manager at Intel. “The IoT pillars, jointly defined by Intel and Cisco, serve as a strong foundation for companies to build IoT solutions that can be seamlessly interconnected and achieve the scale that delivers value promised through the IoT."
Ryan Kendrick, chief technology officer at Klas Telecom said the IoT system would let his company reach new markets such as transportation and further expand its offerings in the defence industry. The embedded routers and switches in the network connectivity pillar, he said, would give the company the ability to extend Cisco technology to the tactical edge into areas and situations previously inaccessible.
Cisco Embedded routers and switches are powered by Cisco IOS software and include the 5915 ESR, 5940 ESR, two versions of the 5921 ESR and the ESS2020, all of which allow for software extensibility.
“By enhancing the feature set of the Cisco 5915 ESR, simplifying its operation, and ruggedising it for austere environments, we've enabled use of Cisco technology in previously inaccessible places,” said Kendrick. “The ubiquity and robustness of embedded Cisco technology is what led to the success of our Voyager product line within DoD. We look forward to designing additional products with the Cisco IoT System and deploying them in new markets."
Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and CTO at Rockwell Automation, said the system would let it help customers derive value from the IoT by simplifying connectivity of assets on the plant floor with the rest of the enterprise and with remote experts.
“By focusing on the key values of the Cisco approach to the IoT, our mutual customers can benefit from improved decision making that can lead to streamlined business and manufacturing processes, reduced network complexities and improved security,” said Chand. “Rockwell Automation and Cisco take a collaborative approach to bring OT and IT together to deliver performance-critical information to drive business outcomes across the connected enterprise."
Brian Cann, vice-president at CGI, added: "CGI is pleased to advance our global strategic partnership with Cisco with the launch of its IoT system. From enhancing our managed cloud platform to boosting our future cites portfolio and real-time asset management offerings, we see many opportunities to augment the value we provide to our clients as a result of this launch."