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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Smart Connections

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the largest economy in the Middle East, is universally recognized as the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum. In recent years, however, it has emerged as a visionary leader in leveraging networked technology, especially in developing a number of Smart City projects to attract business while controlling sprawl and congestion.

Cisco Consulting Services estimates that KSA alone can gain about $84 billion of total economic value from the Internet of Everything, which is the connection of people, processes, data and things. Nearly $16 billion of this is in the public sector, with profitability, cost savings and enhanced experiences coming from urban services such as smart street lighting, smart traffic management, mobile collaboration, chronic disease control, connected learning and healthcare, to name a few.

Globally, Cisco sees a total $19 trillion opportunity for both the public and private sectors. 

Last week, I revisited Saudi Arabia for the 16th time in five years and saw first-hand its progress in developing Smart Cities, or what we at Cisco call, Smart + Connected Communities. I had the honor of participating in the Cityquest KAEC Forum, jointly organized by the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and New Cities Foundation, which assembled global thought leaders in some of the most advanced Smart City projects.

I had the pleasure of participating in an enthusiastic panel discussion on local and global urban innovations made possible by “Connecting Through Technology,” moderated by Andrew Sewer, journalist and former managing editor of Fortune Magazine.

As reported in The Arab News, Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), kicked off the conference by emphasizing that public sector investments to diversify the economy are “… the most promising and significant in terms of job creation, technology transfer and exports development,” pointing to KAEC as a prime example.

“Digital native” cities such as KAEC have the benefit of starting from the ground up to incorporate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into the master planning process. Here, it is recognized that technology is the fourth essential infrastructure for cities, along with water, gas and electricity.

I had the opportunity to see first-hand the amazing progress KAEC has made since it was announced in the summer of 2008 with Cisco’s partnership as the ICT master planner. In addition to its urban planning foresight, KAEC represents a global model of how government, its people and investors worldwide can create a smarter and more sustainable community.

I also visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city, where a tremendous transformation is under way to build one of the largest rapid transit projects in the region, Riyadh Metro. Built on the strong vision of Riyadh Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah, in combination with the strategic plan of Arriyadh Development Authority as well as all the hard work being done by Riyadh Municipality, Riyadh Metro is expected to be the beginning of a modern 21st century digital city.

My take-away is that public and private sector leaders throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognize the power and potential of the Internet of Everything. They are diversifying their petroleum-based economy by embracing the digital era, focusing intently now on Smart City projects.

 

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Protecting Innovation: Cisco Seeks Injunctive Relief at ITC

I blogged in an earlier posting about steps we are taking against Arista’s widespread and intentional use of Cisco’s cutting-edge and differentiating technology in their products. I want to provide an update about steps we’ve taken, as promised when we filed the initial action, to expedite what can be a long drawn out process.

Today, we have formally asked the US International Trade Commission for an injunction (in ITC parlance, an “exclusion order”) blocking Arista from importing and selling products that use Cisco’s patented technologies in the United States. The ITC is an independent agency with broad investigative responsibilities to protect innovators against importation of infringing products. As is typically the case with ITC actions, a consultative process with the ITC preceded these filings, a process we initiated when we filed our legal actions two weeks ago. Our ITC actions cover the same twelve patents we asserted in one of our district court cases. Our ITC actions are consistent with our commitment to do everything possible to expedite review of Arista’s illicit copying. The ITC generally acts more quickly than typically occurs in district court cases, which will help us in our efforts to obtain orders to stop Arista’s unlawful actions as quickly as possible.

One important point in both of these actions (the District Court filing, and now the ITC): our suit is only against Arista and not against any customer. Any suggestion that we will put our customers in the middle of this is not true. Arista’s customers are the victims of Arista’s infringement and copying.

We have no interest in making this a long, drawn out affair. We will move expeditiously to vindicate the principle that to succeed in technology, you need to innovate, not copy. That is why we filed our actions today in the ITC.

 

(Editor’s note: you can read complaint #1 here; complaint #2 is here)

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Fast IT: Unleashing Value at Stake

I often joke with our customers and ask, “How many of you woke up this morning saying, ‘If I could only buy software defined networking (SDN) today, then my day would be complete.’”  My point in asking this is to underscore that it’s not about the technology itself, but it’s about the benefits -- or the outcomes – that this solution achieves which is what our customers want.

There’s no question that there’s a massive amount of market disruption occurring. Whether it’s economic shifts around the world, technology transitions we see with mobile, cloud, big data, analytics, security, SDN and the Internet of Everything (IoE), or the disruption of business models across every industry, our customers are facing a great deal of complexity coming at them fast – and all at the same time.

Whereas IT was once thought of as a necessary evil, customers I speak with today understand that technology will differentiate and transform their businesses amidst all of this complexity. CEOs understand that technology, at a minimum, must be a strategic enabler for their business, and ideally a strategic differentiator.  They realize if they do not stay ahead, a competitor can – and will – disrupt them.

This leads to an incredible amount of pressure on CIOs, who are being asked to make IT decisions faster than ever. More than 70 percent of IT budget is spent keeping existing systems running, with 50 percent of IT budgets spent on labor alone. So how can they create more time to be both strategic partners and simultaneously play Chief Innovation Officer for their CEO and organization?

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Driving Agility and Innovation Through Software

User Experience - RetailIn the US, this is the time of year when holiday shopping kicks into high gear. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, retailers begin their big push to drive nearly a quarter of their annual revenue. And whether their customers are online or inside a traditional store, retailers today have the ability to understand shopper behavior better than ever before. This information – from purchasing patterns and advertising effectiveness to dwell times and foot traffic – allows retailers to provide their customers with a more personalized, richer digital experience that’s more likely to result in a sale. It’s a win-win. And it’s made possible through an intelligent network that manages the data analytics, location information, security, and mobility applications that drive a more enhanced and personalized user experience.

Software plays an integral role in this intelligent network. Whether it’s driving data virtualization and analytics, for example, or enabling an application-centric private and hybrid cloud, or providing comprehensive threat protection – software plays a vital role. But even more than that, software enables businesses to be more agile and innovative with market and technology transitions.

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Connected Analytics: Capturing the Value of the Internet of Everything

Ten large oil refineries produce about 10 terabytes of data each day, which equates to the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress.

One modernized city the size of Singapore can generate about 2.5 petabytes of data every day, which translates to all U.S. academic research libraries combined.

And with more than 14 billion, data-transmitting devices connected to the Internet today, growing to 50 billion by 2020, it is little wonder that most of us are overwhelmed by this mind-boggling explosion of data.

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Turning this flood of raw data into useful information and even wisdom for better business decisions and quality of life experiences is what the Internet of Everything (IoE) is all about. This is a daunting task. According to IDC Research, just .5% of all data is used or analyzed, and online data volumes are doubling every two years from a combination of mobile devices, videos, sensors, M2M, social media, applications and much more.

Connected Analytics Portfolio

Last Thursday, however, Cisco unveiled our Connected Analytics portfolio for the Internet of Everything, a unique approach that includes software packages to bring analytics to the data, regardless of its location or whether it is in motion or at rest. This new generation of analytics tools for IoE can convert more and more data into valuable intelligence — from the inter cloud, to the data center to the network’s edge.

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