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Internet of Things at MWC

Cisco SAP Helping Connect IoTHere we are, less than a week away from the most exciting conference of the year, Mobile World Congress (MWC). Exhibitors will be showing off the latest and greatest products and services to hit the mobile industry from over the past 12 months, an eternity in the technology world.  MWC will also give us a glimpse into the future innovations across the DNA of the mobile industry; the Devices, Networks and Applications which make mobility so exciting. 

For me, this year comes with added anticipation.  At Cisco, we have been promoting our vision of the Internet of Things, the process of connecting the unconnected, of integrating business processes and analytics to machines and sensors to create new insights that solve real world consumer and corporate challenges.  In addition, Cisco recently launched our Internet of Things Business Unit which is focused solely on meeting the demands of those industries and lines of business that operate in extreme environments.  These customers need more robust networking products that can not only thrive in the comfortable confines of the carpeted and air conditioned world of Information Technology, but also survive in the harsh cold, wet, dirty and stressful world of the operations technologist, or what we call the OT.  This harsh environment is believed to have significantly more “things” that connected compared with the traditional IT environment.

To that end, this year, Cisco and SAP have begun working aggressively together to help solve the latest set of problems our OT customers are facing.  From my perspective, the possibility of combining Cisco’s proven set of networking, collaboration and security products, with SAP’s world class industry business applications and HANA platform is extremely powerful and one which I’m jazzed to demonstrate in Spain next week.

The two joint solutions we will be highlighting in the SAP booth include our joint variant of Connected Vending and our joints solution for Connected Construction applications.  In each, we will try to highlight how Cisco and SAP collaborate to solve some very interesting industry problems.

Connected Vending Machine for IoT Cisco SAP

For Connected Vending, SAP and Cisco will highlight some of the new ways retailers can more richly interact with consumers and suppliers, in cases where having live local staff present is cost prohibitive.  Viewers will see the potential for high speed mobile connectivity, robust video collection, inventory tracking with supply chain integration, and big data analytics all in one, well integrated, offer.  Here, Cisco will highlight our ruggedize ISR 819 router which can provide LTE speeds in a variety of weather conditions so retailers don’t have to sweat it.  In addition, we will explain how combining the 819 with the intelligence of Cisco’s industry leading Mobile Evolved Packet Core (EPC) service provider architecture, will allow businesses to prioritize traffic on virtual local area networks (VLANs) that can be maintained across the macro LTE network.

For example, retailers can chose to have higher QoS on their payments VLAN than on their inventory VLAN and the mobile operator can now subsequently increase the SLAs to ensure them. Cisco will also show how our 6500 series surveillance cameras. The new uber sensor can capture and exchange video, in real time when needed, between consumer and business owners, to improve interactions, as well as security of Connected Vending machines.

The second innovative joint solution to be illustrated is initially targeted for Connected Construction.  Here, a partner, SK Solutions, has developed some powerful tools to assure building owners that the large cranes and machinery do not collide with each other or their surroundings during construction.  One can imagine the risks associate with these large machines, as they move in very tight confines, in demanding environments, and under the pressures of highly motivated project managers.

SK Solutions software, based on SAP business tools, can track cranes with dozens of sensor points and real time locations to prevent accidents from occurring.  Crane operators no longer fear hitting other cranes, employees no longer fear being hit by machines and business owners no longer fear getting hit with huge fines from regulators.  To make this all possible, SK Solutions is taking advantage of SAPs industry-leading business  tools and Cisco focuses on the infrastructure enablement and data collection part of the solution.  The infrastructure is a combination of wifi mesh, a technology where Cisco is a proven leader, and our 819 ruggedized router.  The 819  can actually sit on the crane itself to provide information to the crane operator while aggregating sensor data locally.  In addition, the 819R can act as the local connection back to the data center where the application is running.  In the future, we will be looking at ways to push the processing closer to the construction site in what is referred to as the FOG layer. This infrastructure allows the cranes to communicate in real time across any point in the construction zone, along the fringes and with back-up just in case connectivity is momentarily interrupted.

As you can see, I’m pretty passionate about the solutions.  However, I’m also really excited about the partnership that is coming together.  It’s always fun to see firsthand the progress industry leaders can have when they combine their capabilities for the good of common customers.

I’m already starting to see how these solutions can be extended into other similar applications across other industries.  For example, connected vending starts to look very similar to connected ATM machines and can also take advantage of the IoT business solutions and analytics from SAP.  By adding deeper insights from video and location, as well as analytics and business process integration to make unmanned kiosks more viable, they are putting retailers and bankers much closer to the customers without significantly changing their cost to serve them.  In addition, the construction solution might easily also apply in the mining environment.  Here too, large machinery can be better protected from an otherwise dangerous environment or collision by knowing exactly where the equipment is relative to their surroundings.  As location accuracy continues to improve and network latency decreases using new wifi based algorithms, and vertical specific adaptation from SK Solutions, more and more applications will be discovered.

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