Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Cisco Interaction Network

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


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

IPv6 in the Cisco Live World of Solutions

Just recently I wrote about the IPv6 enabled logo program here at the Cisco Live 2014 World of Solutions (WoS). It is now time to share some of the results! In what follows I will say that I did not have enough time to exhaustively visit every single demonstration in the WoS. My time there was confined to a short window on the Tuesday morning, where I went to investigate and locate the IPv6 enabled demos myself.

Armed with my phone camera and IPv6 enabled logo stickers, I began my journey in the WoS starting with the Cisco demonstrations.

It didn’t take me more than a few steps to find the first one - Cisco Autonomic Networks. My colleague Amit Dutta was showing this technology in action and here you can see him alongside the demo which is tagged with the IPv6 enabled sticker. Check out the technology and the logo! Also leveraging the Autonomic feature set, Cisco was featuring the Autonomic Train with my colleague Toerless Eckert. Read his extensive blog that explains the demonstration in details and watch the video.

Another place in the Cisco campus where I found IPv6 in action was with the Cisco VIRL team. My colleague Joel Obstfeld was showing VIRL in action and v6 is fully supported by VIRL which was on clear show in the WoS. See Joel here alongside the VIRL demo and the IPv6 enabled sticker is on clear view.

onePK provides IPv6 capabilities and were demonstrating this. Jason Pfeifer is seen here alongside his demonstration on the Cisco stand bearing the IPv6 enabled logo.

Cisco Prime also has extensive support for IPv6. I found my colleague Gilles Clugnac demonstrating these capabilities and we identified his demonstration as being IPv6 enabled.

Then I talked to some of the Partners:

  • Citrix Nestcaler provides server load balancing for IPv6 and provides an IPv6 proxy function that allows Data Centre’s and hosted web server to enable a dual stack presence. I met Charles and David on the Citrix stand and they showed me v6 in operation.
  • APCON was showing their Network Monitoring technologies which were fully v6 enabled. Timothy Kcechowski showed me this in operation on the APCON stand and we placed the IPv6 enabled logo on their demo.
  • Netformix has a suite of tools that have long supported IPv6 and they were also happily showing v6 in action. This picture shows Justin Giffen and Mario Oliver alongside the Netformix platform with the IPv6 enabled logo on display.
  • SevOne provides Network Performance Management tools for Big Data. Jason Smith demonstrated this to me and here is his picture alongside their stand with the IPv6 enabled logo on display.
  • Infoblox has a fully featured IPAM/DHCP solution and it is fully capable of IPv6 support. This platform was on display on the Infoblox stand and Ken Crozier showed me IPv6 in operation.
  • Network Instruments provide Monitoring and Analysis tools. They were IPv6 enabled and received their sticker. Here you can see Charles Thompson on the Network Instruments stand alongside the monitor showing the IPv6 enabled logo.

I had a great time meeting old and new friends and spent many an hour in very interesting meetings trying to help move IPv6 forward inside our customer networks. I look forward to Cisco Live in Milan in early 2015 when I hope to be able to place more IPv6 enabled stickers. See you there!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

An Incredible Week: Cisco Empowered Women’s Network at Cisco Live!

June 1, 2014 at 11:24 am PST

Screen shot 2014-05-08 at 9.26.42 AM

This blog post was written by Priscila David in collaboration with Emily GriffinAnuja Singh and Rima Alameddine

Today. Tomorrow. Transformed. This was the theme of the second annual Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) forum at Cisco Live. And what a great week of transformation it was, and a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live! Sorry for the long blog post, but it was an exciting week for us!

CiscoEWN is a global community of highly motivated, professional women, as well as a forum for Cisco customers, partners and employees to network and motivate one another at Cisco Live and in virtual and live events throughout the year. Our founders and Executive Sponsors highlight our goals for CiscoEWN at Cisco Live US in San Francisco this year:

CiscoEWN sponsored several activities during the week each of which gave the opportunity for women in technology and our male allies to gather together and network, learn from and empower each other.

We kicked off the week with the CiscoEWN Forum on Sunday, a four-hour event with a packed agenda of mentoring sessions, panels, and keynotes. Here’s a recap of the afternoon:

  • Over 450 men and women, including Cisco employees, customers and partners, attended (up from 250 attendees last year!).
  • 50 executive mentors shared life experiences and offered advice in an icebreaker mentoring session with attendees.

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 12.24.56 PMScreen shot 2014-06-01 at 12.28.15 PMScreen shot 2014-06-01 at 1.02.49 PM

  • Cisco President and COO Gary Moore shared his thoughts on why diversity and inclusion is important for business. 
  • Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTSO, shared insights about her personal transformational journey. She asked the audience to reflect, Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A New ESG White Paper: Accelerating Transformation with an Application-centric Approach

At CiscoLive San Francisco held last week, Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President of Cisco INSBU, highlighted our continued industry momentum for Application Centric Infrastructure.  She discussed customer deployments, new ecosystem partners and the enormous simplification of cloud and application delivery.

So it’s timely to review both ACI’s architectural approach and get a first look at the actual business value that large customers expect from adopting ACI.   This two part blog introduces:

ESGwide

  • A new Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) white paper that explains the principles of ACI’s application-centric approach and how it helps data center teams keep pace with business agility, risk management and the need for resource efficiency.
  • An economic analysis from IDC showing the three year return on using ACI in one of the largest data center environments in the world, Cisco’s own IT Elastic Services.

In the first paper, Enterprise Strategy Group shows how the rise of mobile, social, and e-commerce applications are driving a fundamental IT transformation. Web 2.0, Big Data, and collaboration applications are built using a modular approach, leveraging Dev Ops and Cloud Ops models and consumed on traditional and mobile devices. These applications are far more dynamic than ever before.  Therefore, the supporting underlying IT infrastructure (compute, network, and storage), has to be more flexible and adaptable to their specific needs.

The paper explains how Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture provides a common programmable infrastructure policy model for enterprise network, application, security, and virtualization teams. Policy based provisioning of applications makes IT more agile in both application deployment and optimized operations.  It offers full visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources, supporting an “application anywhere” model with complete freedom of application movement and placement.  In addition, through open OpFlex protocol, ACI’s policy-based approach can now be extended to a growing vendor ecosystem, allowing customers to protect their existing data center investments.

In the paper, Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst at ESG, addresses the following topics:

  • How applications are driving IT transformation
  • How infrastructure obstacles inhibit responsiveness to the business
  • A new approach in which there is a much tighter link between the applications and the underlying networking infrastructure
  • How Cisco ACI complements and accelerates the IT transformation in the networking space

Download the ESG paper here.  And stay tuned for the IDC business value analysis.

Tags: , , , , , , ,