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Connecting the Unconnected

Connecting the Unconnected

“The Internet of Things is the next technology transition where devices will allow us to sense and control the physical world by making objects smarter and connecting them through an intelligent network”, Lindsay Hiebert, Senior Marketing Manager, Internet of Things, Cisco Systems

The Internet of Things in a Manufacturing Plant Environment

The Internet of Things in a Manufacturing Plant Environment

The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet.  These objects contain embedded technology to interact with internal states or the external environment.  This technology allows objects within such places as manufacturing floors, energy grids, healthcare facilities, and transportation systems to be controlled from virtually anywhere in the world.   This connectivity also means more data can be gathered from more places, with more ways to increase efficiency and improve safety and security.   The Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything (people, process, data and things) is about connecting the unconnected.

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#InnovateThink Tweet Chat on Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. PST: Fast IT: An IT Model for the #InternetOfEverything

As the Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to drive one of the most sweeping market transitions in history, organizations will need to be hyper-aware, predictive, and agile. And IT will demand an infrastructure that is flexible enough to keep pace with rapid change and fast innovation, as it responds dynamically to ever-rising threat levels. Above all, it must support business leaders looking to capture their share of the $19 trillion in IoE-related value at stake.

But a rethink on the traditional role of IT is critical. Today, IT cannot simply continue “keeping the lights on.” More than ever, IT must partner with the business as an orchestrator of services and a true leader in innovation. The new IT operating model for the IoE era is Fast IT. And it enables more efficient processes, better asset utilization, an increasingly productive employee base, and improved customer experiences.

Fast IT is the way forward for businesses looking to compete and thrive in the rapidly changing IoE economy. Is your organization ready for the transformation?

Here are a few questions to consider as you evaluate your organization’s readiness:

  • How confident are you in your current network’s ability to propel your business into the future?
  • What are your top three concerns about your network?
  • What are the criteria you see as crucial for your organization to adopt a Fast IT model?
  • How will next-gen networking affect your IT staff, role and influence?

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Join me on Twitter this Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST for insights and feedback about the #FutureOfIT, the #InternetofEverything and your organization in the #InnovateThink Tweet Chat.

Follow @JosephMBradley to learn more about the Internet of Everything and how companies must embrace Fast IT to fully maximize the value of the Internet of Everything for both themselves and their customers. Join the discussion by simply using hashtags #InnovateThink and #FutureOfIT on Twitter to join the conversation.

Learn more about the role of Fast IT in an Internet of Everything world:

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Summary: Survey Says: Fast IT is a Game-Changer

Over the last couple of months we have talked about the need to think about your IT model in a new way in order to thrive in the Internet of Everything (IoE).

As we know, the Internet of Everything—the intelligent connection of people, processes, data and things—has exploded in recent months. Alongside that growth, the pace of change across business and technology is occurring faster than ever and IT must innovate at a speed and scale to match. In order to capture the $19 trillion in IoE economic value, IT requires a new model.

This new model is Fast IT. Fast IT transforms and simplifies IT operations. It addresses the requirements IT needs to align to today’s business changes and organizational requirements.

In the IoE era, every company, no matter how venerable its brick-and-mortar roots, must think of itself as a technology company — creating digital capabilities that transform customer experiences, foster new revenue streams, spur productivity gains, or speed execution. Fast IT can drive this transformation.

Recently, Cisco undertook a multipronged research effort. We engaged Global Market Insite (GMI), a division of Lightspeed Research, to conduct a comprehensive global survey on the impacts of IoE on the IT function, and the extent to which Fast IT capabilities have been addressed from both a strategic and an architectural standpoint.

This soon-to-be-released research, the results of a comprehensive survey of more than 1,400 senior IT decision-makers across multiple vertical industries, provides insight into how IT can more successfully prepare for – and capitalize on – the Internet of Everything (IoE).

To learn more about our study, read the full article: Survey Says: Fast IT is a Game-Changer.

Think Fast, Act Fast: The Importance of Fast IT from Cisco Business Insights

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Affordable Autonomous Vehicles: Coming soon to a store near you?

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If cities would set aside dedicated lanes on highways or exclusively autonomous sectors in cities, autonomous vehicles could probably become reality as early as 2015 to 2019 on dedicated highway lanes and 2020-2024 in dedicated city sectors. Mixing with and managing the human errors of drivers in conventional vehicles will move the time horizon for fully autonomous vehicles out to 2018 to 2022 on mixed highway lanes and post 2025 in mixed urban driving sectors.

Today, technology is assisting drivers in preventing crashes (e.g., line keeping assist) and is allowing drivers to delegate driving to the “autopilot” under certain circumstances (e.g., adaptive cruise control). It is available in many premium models and also becoming an option in other vehicle categories for all who are willing to pay a premium for a safer ride. Cruise, a startup just announced plans to launch a $10,000 autonomous aftermarket kit for newer Audi cars early 2015. While the call is still out whether upgrading conventional vehicles to become autonomous is a viable strategy, it is a good example for how quickly the technology is evolving.

Technology companies and automakers have fully autonomous vehicles that have driven hundreds of thousands of miles on our roads to date. The time when we can buy and ride in a fully autonomous vehicle will not only depend on the autonomous vehicle technology the industry is maturing at rapid pace, but even more on the driving space we allow such vehicles to drive in.  The options are best described in a four quadrant grid: One axis differentiates highway and city driving, the other axis distinguishes exclusive or non-exclusive driving space, meaning whether autonomous vehicles operate on dedicated lanes or city sectors or have to mix and cope with the mistakes of conventional drivers.

An investment in driverless vehicles will likely break even within one to six years, depending on the readiness of the auto insurance industry to adapt rates to the lower risks of autonomous vehicles and on owners’ willingness to share autonomous vehicles.

The fixed ownership cost of the average U.S. passenger vehicle is approximately $8,700 per year:

  • $4,300 depreciation, financing
  • $1,900 license, parking, warranty, etc.
  • $1,500 crash related cost born by the owner
  • $1,000 auto insurance

Human error accounts for over 90% of crashes. Assuming autonomous vehicles can eliminate 80% of this risk, the average vehicle owner would save approximately $1,800 (80% x 90% x $2,500) each year.

Conventional vehicles are used less than 5% of their usable time. The convenience of being able to call an autonomous vehicle when it is needed and easily release it for others to use when it is not needed is likely to make autonomous car sharing a much more convenient and cost-efficient mode of transportation for many. Assuming the remaining ownership cost ($6,900) can be shared by 3 users, this would equate to additional savings of $4,600 per user.

For the purpose of this “back of the envelope calculation”, let’s assume that structural design savings and the incremental autonomous cost are a wash. Virtually crash-less autonomous vehicles would require less structural and other safety features (e.g., fenders, airbags) built into vehicles, thus reducing cost and weight.

According to a recent Morgan Stanley study, driverless technology is estimated to initially add about $10,000 to the cost of a vehicle (less than the cost of a battery pack for an average electric vehicle). At the above savings rates, the investment in an autonomous vehicle would pay back in year six at $1,800 crash risk related savings, and in year two at $6,400 savings including the sharing option.

With mass market adoption, the autonomous upgrade cost is expected to go down to about $5,000 per vehicle. At this price point, the investment in an autonomous vehicle would pay back in year three at $1,800 crash risk related savings, and in less than a year at $6,400 savings including the sharing option.

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HAVEX Proves (Again) that the Airgap is a Myth: Time for Real Cybersecurity in ICS Environments

The HAVEX worm is making the rounds again. As Cisco first reported back in September 2013, HAVEX specifically targets supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), industrial control system (ICS), and other operational technology (OT) environments. In the case of HAVEX, the energy industry, and specifically power plants based in Europe, seems to be the primary target. See Cisco’s security blog post for technical details on this latest variant.

When I discuss security with those managing SCADA, ICS and other OT environments, I almost always get the feedback that cybersecurity isn’t required, because their systems are physically separated from the open Internet. This practice, referred to in ICS circles as the “airgap”, is the way ICS networks have been protected since the beginning of time; and truth be told, it’s been tremendously effective for decades. The problem is, the reality of the airgap began to disappear several years ago, and today is really just a myth.

Today, networks of all types are more connected than ever before. Gone are the days where only information technology (IT) networks are connected, completely separated from OT networks.  OT networks are no longer islands unto themselves, cut off from the outside world. Technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have changed all of that. To gain business efficiencies and streamline operations, today’s manufacturing plants, field area networks, and other OT environments are connected to the outside world via wired and wireless communications – in multiple places throughout the system! As a result, these industrial environments are every bit as open to hackers and other cyber threats as their IT counterparts. The main difference, of course, is that most organizations have relatively weak cybersecurity controls in these environments because of the continued belief that an airgap segregates them from the outside world, thereby insulating them from cyber attacks. This naivety makes OT environments an easier target.

The authors of HAVEX certainly understand that OT environments are connected, since the method of transmission is via a downloadable Trojan installed on the websites of several ICS/SCADA manufacturers. What’s considered a very old trick in the IT world is still relatively new to those in OT.

It’s absolutely essential that organizations with ICS environments fully understand and embrace the fact that IT and OT are simply different environments within a single extended network. As such, cybersecurity needs to be implemented across both to produce a comprehensive security solution for the entire extended network. The most important way to securely embrace IoT is for IT and OT to work together as a team. By each relinquishing just a bit of control, IT can retain centralized control over the extended network – but with differentiated policies that recognize the specialized needs of OT environments.

We’ll never completely bulletproof our systems, but with comprehensive security solutions applied across the extended network that provide protection before, during, and after an attack, organizations can protect themselves from most of what’s out there. A significant step in the right direction is to understand that the airgap is gone forever; it’s time to protect our OT environments every bit as much as we protect our IT environments.

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