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Internet of Things – The Technical Reality

August 8, 2014 at 7:28 am PST

 

Internet of Every(thing)s -- Confusing for sure.

 

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

IoT. IoE. Same thing some say. Only different.

Too much for any one show really, but we did our best.

Internet of Things (IoT) is difficult to define as it represents multiple protocols and so many different ideas. We will all continue to learn more as the years pass because this so much more than a single idea, a company or term that can be quantified. The opportunity is absolutely astounding however and as we push these limits we will keep setting new boundaries.

This is a long blog bit here below. If you want to just jump to the good stuff…watch the show! Episode 153 The Internet of Things Reality Show

Otherwise, keep reading. You will be rewarded at the end.

New is not that New.

Bill Joy proposed this idea back in 1999 at the World Economic Forum at Davos as part of his “Six Webs” Design Theory. In 2009, Kevin Ashton recounts his own experience with the term in this this RFID Journal article; “ Today computers and, therefore, the Internet are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet … leave out the most numerous and important routers of all -- people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that’s a big deal…”

There are very real and substantive things being done with IoT

Our goal for this show was to expose you to the reality and give you a few examples.

Yes the numbers are big. The opportunity is even bigger.

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

What it is. What it is not.

IoT: The intelligent connectivity of physical devices driving massive gains in efficiency, business growth and quality of life

Now contrast with IoE which includes IoT but is much bigger, more encompassing and much more prone to confusion and overstatement.

IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data and things. It brings together people, processes, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable by turning information into actions creating new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.

IoT is the “Things” portion. To be clear, by “things” we’re really talking about the network of sensors, meters, motors, actuators, objects, but not concentrating on the devices, themselves.

At some point between 2008 and 2009, there was a tipping point where the number of connected devices began outnumbering the planet’s human population.

All of these physical objects began connecting to IP networks imposing new and novel requirements on existing networking models.

IoT presents a problem that IT can’t solve on its own. It needs cooperation between the professionals in the information AND operational technology spaces.

Since IoT is taking the network outside the carpeted office and into new places in the network such as the plant and the field, it requires cooperation and support from professionals in the information technology and operational technology (OT) sides of the house.

OT is Operational Technology. These are the folks that provide non-IT technology solutions for the manufacturing floor, the refinery, the oil rig, the powerlines, railyards and the like. They are also the group that deals with the business and regulatory challenges outside of our relatively “clean” IT world.

This is part of what makes IoT a uniquely interesting challenge. A successful strategy here requires both groups working together to design, deploy and operate what has become a new, very essential infrastructure.

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

Value & challenge in the connectivity

IoT derives its value not from the numerous sensors, devices or even smart objects themselves. These things are rich in data but very poor on information.

Go on.

While the data each of these individual items produces is of little value, IoT enables it to be processed and correlated with other inputs to produce relevant information that can then be used in real-time as actionable knowledge by IoT-enabled applications.

In the longer term, it can be used to a gain deeper understanding for the purpose of developing proactive policies, processes, responses, and plans.

IoT also adds additional complexity to the network of course.

But that’s not the only thing that makes it unique. We should consider Location, Form, Value in the Aggregate and Connectivity.

  • LOCATION: IoT lives “outside”. Outside of what we traditionally call ‘carpeted space.’ IoT is going to receive information right from the source. This requires dramatically different network elements. Smaller, more self-contained switches and routers for the fields, plants, or other operational environments. These are naturally challenging environments that include harsh weather, significant amounts of vibration, dust, and anything else you can imagine. These devices must be rugged. Built to function under the most adverse conditions.
  • FORM: These are Objects or Things, not computing devices -- It’s important to note that these objects are networked together, yet they’re independent of your network – you don’t own them; oftentimes can’t see them; and you don’t control them in any way, shape, or form. Yet they’re sending petabytes of data through your network – data that’s required by the applications to function properly.
  • VALUE IN THE AGGREGATE -- Unlike today’s monolithic applications, where the main value is delivered locally from the application’s code, IoT applications derive most of their value from the intelligence that results from the sum of all these parts. The individual data point within IoT is simulatanously important and worthless. The network is not just required -- it just is. The application is merely the method employed to access that intelligence.
  • CONNECTIVITY- M2M -- The network, and its design, has NOTHING to do with communication or data in that traditional sense. In fact, it is not about connecting people in any way whatsoever. The IoT network is built to deliver automation, visibility and control between the devices and processes that must interact to create value.

Security Challenges

As usual, history provides an important context for understanding the unique risk. IoT may be a new and exciting term, but the idea of connecting many operational devices or sensors has been around a long time. This notion has been important for advances in many factory or automation areas for years.

The biggest change right now is that these formerly closed networks have suddenly been connected, often with little forethought, to what it is then connected to. (Its like approving of a friend for my pre-teen son to hang out with and forgetting he has a ‘fun’ older sister).

We are now connecting things now that were designed at a time when ‘internet’ connectivity was not even imaginable.

Billions of new devices, located in more places throughout the world – many of which are insecure locations – are sending sensitive data through the network … however, these devices reside outside the secure embrace of the existing network. You don’t own them; oftentimes can’t see them; and you don’t control them in any way, shape, or form. Yet they’re sending petabytes of data – data that’s required by the applications to function properly. And who chases a problem when things seem to be working correctly?

IoT doesn’t replace your existing network. It simultanously supplements and relies on it.

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

History of the Factory Floor

Automation started in the 60s when the first digital computers and controllers began to make their way in to manufacturing and processing environments. Many of the existing pneumatically-controlled systems were replaced with digital transmissions using proprietary networks.

With the advent of the microprocessor in the 1970s, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and distributed control systems (DCS) started gaining widespread popularity as many businesses turned to hierarchical forms of control.

Fast forward 10 more years and local area networks began connecting computers with industrial automation systems. During the last years of last century, as ethernet began to emerge as the protocol of choice for IP networking, a specific form of ‘industrial’ ethernet was developed to address the unique requirements for network communication in this area.

Ease-of-interoperability between equipment became part of the automation process. Standardization in the protocol helped to covercome the proprietary data roadblocks and enabled more resilient and efficient automation networks, secure, increased visibility, manageability and uptime.

The commonality between what is essentially two sides of the same protocol has set us up for a convergence between systems.

Learn more about Connected Factory

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

What makes a Switch ‘Industrial’?

Ethernet is certainly a standardized protocol, but there is a big difference between ‘commercial’ and ‘industrial’ switches.

Industrial switches are designed for a broad range of tough conditions -- inside and out.

Unique design considerations on the inside may emphasize deterministic delivery of transmitted data to increase timing accuracy critical for the many control systems dependent on that data flow. Think about it, the economic cost of interruption in this environment is much higher than commercial installations.

On the outside, these ‘tough’ conditions would include temperature extremes, high vibration or severe electrical noise.

You can’t use fans to cool an industrial switch -- dust would choke it…fans often fail too easily. But that heat must still be accounted for

The main application of these networking devices is to provide intelligent connectivity to the “things”, and the things are often located in s0me very harsh environments.

Read more: Cisco Industrial Ethernet 3000 Series Switches

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

From Factory to Utilities

Moving beyond the factory floor, devices – each with embedded sensors, actuators, communication, and computing elements – can create a smart environment with a wide range of applications in healthcare, public safety, transportation, utilities, and the home.

For many years, utility companies had no real visibility to their systems. People had to call to report trouble. Equipment problems were not discovered until they failed and created outages. This all meant that life for those impacted stopped as the utility scrambled to restore service. All without accurate information, at a large expense and with great criticism from customers, elected officials, regulators, media and more.

Today, utilities are being pushed to redesign their operations. They must keep pace with increasing demand, regulatory requirements, aging infrastructure, customer side generation (like solar on the roof) that they are required to purchase and integrate into their system. Although utilities have a reputation for moving very slow and being risk averse, many are embracing these changes energetically.

Learn more about IoT and Utilities

Carol Barret FOG and IoX

FOG Computing

FOG Computing is based on a model in which data, processing and applications are concentrated in devices at the network edge rather than existing almost entirely in the cloud.

That concentration means that data can be processed locally in smart devices rather than being sent to the cloud for processing.

This is critical for IoT since the number of network connected devices is almost limitless. These devices can often produce huge amounts of data.

It’s often a waste of time and bandwidth to ship all the data from these IoT devices into a centralized, cloud model and then transmit the cloud’s responses back out to the edge. This work should take place in the routers themselves.

Cisco IOx enables fog computing through the combination of Linux and Cisco IOS on a single, networked device.

IOx allows data collection to move closer to the source, sensors and systems of origin. It reduces the cost of data collection by eliminating a separate server to run the interface or application and supports demanding utility and industry environments requiring hardened devices.

TWTV 153 IoT Reality

Connected Rail

Some may think trains are just steel wheels on steel rails. But it is so much more.

Depending on where you live -- you may not think much about this, but its big and getting bigger. Its always looking to be more efficient as well.

Trains deal with moving people and stuff. They can already do it more efficiently than any other form of transportation

Railroads are four times more fuel efficient than trucks. They can move one ton of goods about 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel.

They are on average 20 times more efficient than the automobile for transportation of passengers…assuming they are filled to capacity.

In fact, efficiency goes way down when they run with anything less.

Technology innovation is therefore critical for an industry that owns, maintains, and upgrades its own infrastructure to the tune of $20 billion a year. Inefficiencies result in higher operating costs. Improving the operating ratio by just 1 percent can result in a saving upwards of $800 million.

The challenge, as it always is…the complexity, scale, volume, velocity, safety, security, and regulations.

Success in the rail industry is closely linked with its logistics prowess.

They schedule crews, locomotives, freight cars, tracks and terminals….but once these get rolling….the slightest snag in the system -- bad weather, breakdowns, unscheduled maintenance, you name it—will unravel even the best-laid plans.

What an ideal situation in which to apply the Internet of Things.

Thousands of data points that don’t mean much on their own…but when combined…when networked…they can work together to dramatically improve on every since challenge this industry faces.

Cisco is helping to transform almost every aspect of the rail industry

Transforming the riding experience with on-board Wi-Fi, video, and mobile applications that deliver entertainment, advertising, and scheduling information. Train stations are getting an overhaul too with new services like “wayfinding” touch-screen kiosks to help travelers plan trips, check schedules and take advantage of special offers.

All of this is driving increased ridership which as we know, is key to wringing the efficiency, the value, out of rail transportation.

Cisco Connected Trackside replaces old proprietary SCADA networks with converged IP networks. Connected sensors facilitate asset management, controls, surveillance and other services.

This network reduces complexity, lowers costs, and improves safety.

Rail safety is of course a really big deal and for the U.S. At least, its tied to a Federal Mandate.

The innovation is in PTC, which stands for Positive Train Control.

A system for sending real time information to crew members, and the train itself, about areas where the train needs to be slowed or stopped.

The status of approaching signals. Position of approaching switches, speed limits at approaching curves, and other reduced-speed locations, crossings or where work is being done.

PTC communicates with the train’s onboard computer to warn the engineer and display the safe braking distance based on speed, length, width, weight, and the grade and curvature of the track. If the engineer does not respond to the ample audible warning and screen display, the onboard computer will activate the brakes and safely stop the train.

This requires the communication and coordination from a lot of different places. Cisco partnered with Lilee Systems to provide a state-of-the art PTC System.

This system includes

  • The 819 Integrated Services Router with 3G and LTE for mobile WAN access as well as onboard Wi-Fi, live video streaming and other services
  • Industrial ethernet switches that can send power to..
  • Ruggedized High-Def IP based video cameras
  • Wireless Access Points

Learn more:

SIDE NOTE: Railway Signaling is a system used to control railway traffic safely to prevent trains from colliding. Being guided by fixed rails with low friction, trains are uniquely susceptible to collision since they frequently operate at speeds that do not enable them to stop quickly or within the driver’s sighting distance. Most forms of train control involve movement authority being passed from those responsible for each section of a rail network to the train crew. Not all methods require the use of signals, and some systems are specific to single track railways.

The signaling process is traditionally carried out in a signal box, a small building that houses the lever frame required for the signalman to operate switches and signal equipment. These are placed at various intervals along the route of a railway, controlling specified sections of track. More recent technological developments have made such operational doctrine superfluous, with the centralization of signaling operations to regional control rooms. This has been facilitated by the increased use of computers, allowing vast sections of track to be monitored from a single location. The common method of block signaling divides the track into zones guarded by combinations of block signals, operating rules, and automatic-control devices so that only one train may be in a block at any time.
Even more reading…

Thank You.

If you have read this far….I should send you a TechWiseTV T-Shirt… ? Hello, McFly?

I may have enjoyed the research on this show more than any other in recent memory. Did you watch the show yet? Do it now:
Episode 153 The Internet of Things Reality Show

Special thanks to: Roberto De La Mora, Kathy Tebben, Marty Collins, Jeff Aboud, Barry Einsig, Marty Collins, Jenny Gomez, Carol Barret, Yuta Endo and Carol Barret.

Your Friend,

Robb

@robbboyd


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ACI Momentum Continues

July 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm PST

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

We embarked upon this episode with an agenda. Take a sample of the building momentum around Cisco ACI. The growing benefits, details and momentum behind the Application Centric Infrastructure. First announced in November 2013 and just before we start shipping.

In my estimation, we saw five areas worth highlighting from Cisco Live:

  1. Cisco is ready to ship ACI
  2. Partnerships and joint use-cases are resonating with customers
  3. Strong integrations with APIC through OpFlex
  4. Partners see strong customer demand
  5. Partner are getting ready to ship ACI-based solutions

Great Q&A with Soni Jiandani from Network World’s John Dix: Cisco describes its SDN Vision She nails Cisco’s ACI vs. SDN messaging and any confusion you may still have with the positionoing. She also puts good context around the OpFlex protocol.

Our show is a great sneak peak for this summer’s blockbuster release of ACI Fabric Mode and the APIC Controller. If you need to catch up. Be sure and review the launch details we covered for ACI in November 2013: TWTV136: Inside the Application Centric Infrastructure

The key elements for ACI in that episode were:

  • Application Awareness -- top down control based on what was important
  • A new, tighter coupling between software and hardware
  • Architecture
  • Recognition that virtualization on the compute side had not been accompanied by requisite innovation on the network wide -- potential for wasted opportunity.
  • East West traffic was growing gangbusters in the data center and needed assisted.

We walk through the following components of the offering:

  • APIC -- Centralized cluster controller
  • Northbound API for standardized communication and control from Applications that need to interact with the Fabric
  • Southbound API for third party network services integration
  • Profiles -- Application Network Profiles -- the logical representation of all components of the application and its interdependencies on the application fabric
  • ACI Fabric -- new stateless hardware within the Nexus portfolio, 9000 series

So what was still missing?
- APIC GUI -- How would we interact?
- Migration plan -- Clarity on how to leverage within existing networks
- Southbound interface -- more details on network control
- Partner Plans -- who would support?

And that formed much of what we wanted to cover for today’s show -- filling in the blanks on the momentum…just before the big release this summer.

Shashi Kiran level on set on what has been accomplished.
TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

Ronak Desai, Director of Software Development walked Jimmy Ray through the new APIC interface.

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

I got a chance to ask Mike Cohen about OpFlex and where it fits.

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

And finally, Jimmy Ray weighed in with his view on partner support and the growth we are seeing for the Eco-System.

Please to enjoy!

Robb
@robbboyd

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The Future of Cloud, Part 1: Six Cloud Providers and Their Vision

This year’s Cisco Live! was tremendous, with 25,000 attendees on-site and another 200,000 attending virtually.  There was a lot of excitement around all things cloud, from how the Internet of Everything will change the way we live, to the role of the Intercloud in forming a seamless fabric between the world of many clouds.

During the show, I spent time with six of our partners who offer Cisco Powered cloud and managed services.  In this series of blogs, I’ll introduce you to each of them and what they shared with me about the future of cloud.  Each of them had a different perspective, but all of them agreed: the cloud represents an incredible opportunity for businesses around the world.

Here are some of the highlights I’ll share in upcoming blogs:

Part 2: Chris Kemmerer, Director, Mobility Solutions, Verizon, shared that part of Verizon’s mission is to bring together the pieces needed to unlock the value of the Internet of Everything for their customers.  “The Internet of Everything has deep meaning to us as everything becomes connected, whether it’s business to business, people to people, people to machines, or machines to machines.  When you have all these things exchanging data, you can improve the way enterprises interact with each other, how consumers interact with enterprises, by leveraging all that connectivity.”  He also shared how Verizon adds value to cloud services by layering applications on the underlying architecture.

Part 3: The importance of transparency in the high performance cloud was described by Dusten Tornow, Director of Infrastructure Products, from OneNeck IT Solutions.  “When we decided to build out our cloud infrastructure, we knew that we wanted to align with enterprise vendors like Cisco because their technologies resonate with our customers as being high performance.  They recognize that if they were to go out and build their own cloud, it would likely look and feel a lot like what we’ve built.  Being able to be transparent with what our equipment is made out of and built upon is a huge advantage for us.”

Part 4: Derek Siler, Director, Solution Engineering – Channel Sales, Sungard Availability Services talked about how building a resilient cloud that can carry businesses into the future requires a resilient foundation.  “We’re building our cloud future around Cisco and around enterprise-grade architectures.  For us, Cisco is absolutely vital.”

Part 5: The value of integration to cloud services was another important topic at Cisco Live!  For Chris Ludwig, SVP GTM Cloud and Hosted Solutions from NWN Corporation, applications integrated with on-premises equipment still have to work when migrated to cloud.  “That was something we did a lot of research on, to make sure that all of the third party companies that we work with on-premises are going to work in the cloud.  We certainly look to Cisco for guidance.  It’s very helpful knowing that if they’re part of the ecosystem, we know that they are going to be a good partner.”

Part 6: Steve Harris, Senior Vice President, National Alliances at Peak 10, echoed the value of a partner ecosystem.  “Today it takes an ecosystem to deliver the business outcome that clients are looking for.  We’ve gone beyond the point where clients are just interested in the technology.  They want the technology to provide a business outcome for them.  Being able to provide that seamless solution with the Cisco ecosystem of partners is incredibly important.”

Part 7: Finally, I spoke with Andy Bird, Executive Director, Product Management and Development at eLoyalty, a TeleTech Company.  He expressed his excitement about Cisco’s Intercloud Fabric.  “Imagine trying to take your data from one cloud and move it to the next.  It’s very difficult to do, because when you look at clouds, you end up getting hooked into them, just like if you were to buy premise gear.  What Cisco has been starting to enable to happen is the idea of creating a fabric between the clouds that allows me to migrate data.  When somebody gets on my platform, they have the ability to go and leverage Cisco in other places.  So they have a different level of confidence.”

Next time: my interview with Chris Kemmerer at Verizon.  Until then, you can read more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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Wireless Stew, Intoxicating Demo and Plixer

July 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm PST

Tony Scotino Stills

One of the best times I always have at Cisco Live involves getting to play ‘TV Anchor’ for the various live shows we stream. Well the Cisco TV team lets us use their equipment to do a live version of TechWiseTV each afternoon as well. Now honestly, I do plan these out…a little. But our day three show is generally a ‘hey…what do we WANT to do” kind of show. Planning for day 3 simply involved asking Jimmy Ray and Tina what they wanted. We had TWO wireless cameras this year to play with so it felt like we could do a little more. As for me (with input from the hillbilly of course), we wanted to take advantage of Wireless Stew’s presence and get him up to tell his story…so that is how we started.

Cisco Live 2014

Stewart Gouman’s is a fantastic fan of the show, running his wireless consultancy and very informative blog from the Great White North. He has sought us out in just a few visits over the years stopping by the studio in San Jose or catching us while at Cisco Live when we all end up in the same place. Watch the show and get his career and community advice.

Tina gave an ‘intoxicating’ review of her favorite IoT demo at the wine bar.

Tina Intoxicating Demo

Jimmy Ray ran back to one of his favorite netflow analyzer’s Plixer.

Tony Scotino Stills

Did you miss it while live? Catch it now…just as it happened..

 

Thanks for watching!

@robboyd

 

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My Cisco Live Debut

July 2, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

I joined Cisco five years ago as a contractor. And I’ve proudly been part of the Cisco on Cisco team for the past 2 years. This was my first Cisco Live and my first time delivering a Cisco on Cisco session at an event.   Read More »

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