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Internet of Things: The Bigger Picture

It’s clear that the number of connected devices is growing exponentially.  We’ve already passed the 10 billion mark earlier this year and will most likely reach 50 billion by 2020. The opportunities and challenges of all these devices coming online have tremendous implications for how we live and work.

As devices are proliferating in the Internet of Things (IoT), complexity is growing. IoT-based connections tend to be in silos, independent systems with analytics that are focused on a single purpose.  So it’s important to look at the landscape holistically, to apply a systems approach and address the challenges of building an infrastructure that can meet and interact with an IoT world. That means integrating intelligence, convergence, visibility, and security into the infrastructure.

I’m always interested in hearing or reading points of view on the evolving Internet of Things. Case in point, “A Blueprint to the Internet of Things,” which was a great discussion between ReadWrite’s Taylor Hatmaker and Bump’s David Lieb about how devices need to talk to each other better to make the user experience simple and seamless.  Device interface is an important part of the Internet of Things (IoT), but it’s just the starting point.

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Why Connections (not Things) Will Change the World

Much has been made of the “Internet of Things” and a growing array of “smart” things that will soon change nearly every aspect of our lives — from Google’s driverless car and iRobot’s Ava 500 video collaboration robot to “smart” pill bottles that will automatically renew a prescription and remind you when to take it.

While we often think that it’s all about the things, it’s not actually the “things” that create the value, it’s the connections among people, process, data, and things — or the Internet of Everything—that creates value.

You can see the power of connections by adding a sensor and an Internet connection to any “dumb” thing. Consider, for example, your front door lock. It has no “intelligence” of its own — it’s simply a mechanical device that allows you to open and close the front door of your house. But if you add a sensor with a connection to the cloud, that “dumb” device can take an image of your face, send it to the cloud for analysis, and determine whether or not to let you into the house, based on facial-recognition technology. The lock itself doesn’t have the intelligence or compute power to make this decision, but the cloud does. It’s the connection that makes this “dumb” thing “intelligent.”

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“Network as a Service” Brings the Benefits of Virtualization to Network Operators

carlos-corderoBy Carlos Cordero, Cisco Consulting Services, Service Provider

Cloud consumption models are gaining traction across all company sizes and industries.  Whether software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or platform as a service (PaaS), the value propositions of virtualization are being sought by IT decision makers.

Cisco Consulting Services sees an opportunity for network service providers (SPs) to deliver a similar experience through a new solution architecture that we call network as a service (NaaS). NaaS does for the network what SaaS and IaaS have done for the data center —  offering many of the same value proposition components, such as lower OpEx and increased agility, as well as new business model levers and distribution benefits.

A Simple NaaS Architecture Delivers Broad Benefits

To illustrate the value, this paper focuses on NaaS for mobile operators, although similar value could be articulated across all SP segments. Today, the various engineering and operational functions required to enable new customers, new services, and repairs are buried behind monolithic and independent network elements. The goal of NaaS is to simplify the architecture through virtualization, bringing disparate software solutions onto common hardware.

At the heart of mobile NaaS is an intelligent core with the service elements needed to deploy mobile data services (Figure 1). Traditionally, each software element runs on dedicated hardware, but under NaaS, these elements are separated so the software can run on shared virtual machines. The model also includes a common storage and compute infrastructure that can be delivered to the intelligent core as needed through a virtual machine approach. The intelligent core should work across a variety of licensed and unlicensed access technologies, shown at right. The active service catalog represents the SP’s ability to create unique service environments by combining service elements in an automated and simplified way. Finally, the secure portal enables consumers and business customers to access and manage their own network instances.

Figure 1.                  Mobile NaaS Is Anchored in a Flexible and Extensible Set of Service Elements. Read More »

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Solve My Business Problems, Accelerate Growth, and Oh yeah, Keep the Lights On?

IT and Alexander the GreatAre you an IT manager feeling the pressure to be “innovative” while still responsible for keeping the lights on? And what does it actually mean to be “innovative” in Enterprise IT?  Isn’t it just about the technology?

Today’s IT managers are not only responsible for making technology decisions, they are becoming increasingly responsible for using the network to deliver on business priorities, help solve business problems, and accelerate growth.

Whether it is headlines such as, “Today’s CIO Needs to Be the Chief Innovation Officer“ from an HBR blog, or the continued threat of Shadow IT, the pressure is on IT organizations to demonstrate their value beyond just “keeping the lights on”. Read More »

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Collaboration, Video and Mobility Drive Value in the Internet of Everything Economy

In the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy, there will be leaders and laggards, winners and losers. And collaboration, video, and mobility technologies will play a crucial role in determining who captures their share of the value at stake, which Cisco projects as a staggering $14.4 trillion. That’s equivalent to a 21 percent increase in corporate profits over the next ten years.

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The Internet of Everything (IoE) is already changing our lives in unimaginable ways as everything from clothing, cars, jet engine parts, and roads, to name a few, become “lit up” with data-generating sensors. The resulting explosion in connectivity among people, processes, data, and things —

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