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IT Is from Venus, OT Is from Mars

Bringing Alien Worlds Together in the Internet of Things

In the 1990s, I, like millions of others, read the book Women Are from Venus, Men Are from Mars. This best-seller suggested that the frequent misunderstandings between genders make it seem as though men and women are from different, alien worlds. But it’s not just men and women who appear to be from different planets. Today, every organization that has begun an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment is bumping up against a fundamental disconnect between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). In many cases, these two groups are alien to one another—with separate technology stacks, network architectures, protocols, standards, governance models, and organizations.

In the first wave of the Internet, data and technology systems fell solidly in the realm of IT. IT systems focused on the flow of data across an organization, and with a few exceptions, did not get involved in production and logistics environments.

However, in many companies, a parallel organization—commonly called operational technology —has grown up to monitor and control devices and processes that act in real time on physical operational systems, such as assembly lines, electricity distribution networks, oil production facilities, and a host of others. Read More »

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U.S. Army Builds Internet of Everything Infrastructure for the Fighting Force of Tomorrow

Every July, we celebrate on the 4th to commemorate the Continental Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence.  This year, the patriotic occasion reminded me of an event held last month when, together with United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier and the president of Sonim Technologies, Bob Plaschke, I announced a partnership with Sonim for the digital transformation of the communications systems supporting the U.S. Army training center in Fort Irwin (California).

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Number of Access Technologies and IoT Deployments Is Skyrocketing

Almost daily, I work with customers and partners as they develop strategies to gain competitive differentiation through innovative technology. One area bursting with change is the Internet of Things (IoT), which has grown more than threefold in number of deployments since 2012. This is the first in a series of blogs on technology and business factors to keep in mind while considering IoT, beginning with the explosion of IoT access technologies.

The first wave of the Internet focused on enabling human communication. Since the early 1990s, the number of connected devices has skyrocketed from around 1 million personal computers to 15 billion networked devices today. As more and more devices enter the picture, we are developing the key building blocks for the next big wave of the Internet, called the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. IoT is a major enabler of IoE, connecting sensors, machines, and other devices.

By 2020, there will be as many as 50 billion connected devices—including cars, buses, trains, office buildings, factories, oil rigs, homes, and entire cities. Some are stationary, some mobile, some have IP addresses, some don’t, some are always on, some intermittent, some are clustered together, some geographically dispersed. This diversity is driving a proliferation of access technologies to connect them. No longer limited to Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G/4G, IoT deployments today also include satellite, Bluetooth LE, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRa, Power Line Communication (PLC), and various Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN) such as Wi-SUN. Which technology is best for each situation depends on several criteria: Read More »

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Data Analytics: Transforming Journeys

It’s dawn and I’m catching the fast train from Amsterdam to Paris. Three days of meetings and a view of one of the most fantastic cities in the world. While stepping onto the train, I had a déjà vu moment that took me back to being a student when I traveled around Europe with a train ticket in my back pocket.

nic villa blogTrains have not changed much. Same rails, similar seats, just a different color fabric. Even the people are the same—as diverse as always, each with a slightly different reason for stepping onto the train. What has changed is the whole experience around the journey. Waking up in the morning, I consulted my smartphone for the weather forecast in Paris, which by the way, the alarm function also woke me from a deep sleep. Using an app I chose a taxi by the number of people who “liked” that particular driver with the Eastern European look. Then my phone paid the taxi fare and alerted me that the train was going to depart within five minutes, well before the announcer at the station did. Just enough time for a good coffee. I plan to get the same taxi service in Paris – just Michelle instead of Piotr.

Connectivity has become part of our everyday life. A life in which information follows – and sometimes proceeds us. Our smart devices proactively give useful information; in my case, the cheapest and quickest way to get to the office as well as a mechanism to build a personal connection with my taxi driver; all before stepping into the vehicle. Read More »

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The Cisco IoT System and Industry Solutions: Enabling rapid prototyping, faster time to market, and better value

TonyShakib95percentImageThere’s no doubt that deployments of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are increasing at a rapid pace as organizations face intense pressure to innovate and embrace the next wave of the Internet. Digital technology advances now enable new market entrants to threaten — and overtake — incumbents who fail to answer the innovation challenge. Think Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and more. To up the ante on innovation and stay relevant, organizations across all industries are deploying IoT in an effort to embrace digitization.

How organizations embrace IoT as part of their digital transformation varies widely from industry to industry. For example, in manufacturing the focus is on automating inventory management, real-time monitoring/controlling of machine operations, and energy management. In the public sector, the emphasis is often on theft protection, asset tracking and real-time billing. What these industries and solutions have in common is the challenge of successfully navigating the very complex technology environment involved in getting the insights that drive successful outcomes. Successful IoT deployments require complex elements – connectivity, security, automation, analytics, and application enablement — to work together as a system to deliver those business insights.

At Cisco, we’ve done a great job of bringing powerful industry solutions to our customers that give them the business outcomes they need. Building these solutions requires drawing upon different ingredients to deliver an offering that is simple, agile, and repeatable. Many elements must to come together to deliver the value our customers need. The process for building a solution that seamlessly integrates all the elements to support a specific industry can be lengthy.

That’s why I’m excited about this week’s announcement of the Cisco IoT System. Read More »

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