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IT Challenges in the Internet of Everything

In a previous post, we looked at examples of new business opportunities enabled by the Internet of Everything and the importance of evaluating Data in Motion in new ways.

Naturally, the Internet of Everything brings its share of IT challenges. Data collection starts at the network edge, including a multitude of endpoint devices and sensors in everyday objects that automatically collect, analyze and transmit data—including video—on a massive scale.

For the most part, it is data that has previously gone untapped—a giant superset of the persistent data that is the subject of Big Data today. The velocity and volume of this data make it difficult to bring it together into one place and extract value from it in a timely fashion. A key IT challenge is deciding what data to store (which can be costly) and what data to ignore (which can be a lost opportunity). 

For example, high-definition video surveillance cameras combined with data analysis offer retailers insight into everything from facial recognition to age, gender and socioeconomic indicators. Retailers can also use video intelligence to create augmented reality mirrors or spot customers in need and send associates to assist them. However, not all the data from these devices needs to be stored or even analyzed, but rather used in the moment to create interactive engagements with the customers.

To address these challenges, intelligence and automated data processing must be embedded in the network. This intelligence takes the guesswork out of selecting the correct data from the torrent, because the network can filter based on relevance. At the same time, it can prioritize what data to retain and what data to discard based on value policies. This requires a flexible infrastructure where compute, storage, network and security resources can be assigned on the fly where and when needed. In most cases with Data in Motion, the application moves to where the data is, not the other way round.

Another key challenge is security, which remains paramount all the way from the edge to the cloud and back. The rapid deployment of Internet of Things and M2M technologies is leading to a proliferation of devices whose variety, data, complexity and vulnerability go beyond the traditional IT landscape. Along with the tremendous value that can be extracted from Data in Motion come new risks that require network-centric security approaches.

The Internet of Everything brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before, thus providing unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals and countries. We are still in the early stages of evolution for Data in Motion and the impact it will have on all of us. But it is clear that the more knowledge we have, based on meaningful information pulled from a variety of data sources, the more wisdom we can gain and apply. It will profoundly change the world.

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Opportunities and the Intelligent Network – Internet of Everything

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of the rising tide of real-time, sensor-generated data—aka Data in Motion—that will gather momentum as the Internet of Everything emerges. Unlocking the potential of Data in Motion cannot be achieved by analyzing stored data or by examining historical data. Rather, it requires tools and interactions that capture value here and now, in real time.

The intelligent network plays a key role here. It can add contextual information such as location, identity and presence while the data is moving. Value can be extracted and acted upon through policy changes, security enforcement and packet processing, as events occur to create advantage here and now, or even to predict the future. By harnessing the value of Data in Motion through the intelligent network, organizations can make better decisions, deliver enhanced experiences to their customers, partners and employees, and build a competitive advantage over the long term.

For example, to maintain and improve patient care in a Connect_This_bicycles_236cost-effective way, healthcare providers can use Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology to remotely monitor the progress of patients in their homes. Remote monitoring is more efficient and cost effective than having patients repeatedly visit healthcare facilities. As real-time healthcare applications continue to develop, Data in Motion will help patients take more proactive control of their own health, using instant biofeedback to help them modify personal behaviors.

To be clear, Data at Rest is not without value. Indeed, combining it with Data in Motion can produce optimal business outcomes. Data at Rest provides the context for creating the actionable insights from Data in Motion, helping organizations analyze and understand the past while they take contextual action on events in real time.For instance, by tracking a consumer’s real-time location and historical online interaction, a retailer could develop valuable contextual information while enabling store touchpoints with mobile access. With an up-to-the minute view of customers, the retailer could send customized promotions in real time.

And then there’s the opportunity for service providers. For most of them, Data in Motion represents a largely untapped opportunity, despite the wealth of data flowing through their networks. Think of the potential. Their networks and users are constantly generating huge amounts of real-time and near real-time data, packed with details like location, content and subscriber information—much of which can be analyzed and correlated in real-time to create usage and traffic patterns, network congestion analytics, media behavior, dwell times analytics and more. A service provider, for example, could extract detailed data such as a user’s device type, data quota, recent Internet activity and current connection speed. Armed with this real-time intelligence, the provider could offer highly targeted mobile advertising or sponsored data—and charge a premium for it.

Harnessing the potential of Data in Motion creates business opportunities but also new IT challenges. In a next post, we will look at some of these challenges and how to best address them.

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Cisco Sizzle – Summary of May’s Hottest Stories

Welcome to the Cisco Sizzle! Each month, we’re rounding up the best of the best from across our social media channels for your reading pleasure. From the most read blog posts to the top engaging content on Facebook or LinkedIn, catch up on things you might have missed, or on the articles you just want to see again, all in one place.

Let’s take a look back at the top content from May…

Work-Life Balance … Or Work-Life Integration?
Achieving a work-life balance can be tough, but Cisco’s CTO Padmasree Warrior takes a different approach. Instead of trying to balance the demands of work and home separately, she embraces integration and combines the two together whenever she can.


IoE: Powering Supply Chain Management
Cisco is connecting the Internet of Everything to get supply chains perfectly linked. Watch this video to explore how IoE instigates meaningful actions to happen faster.

Cisco Ranks High With Young Professionals
Career Bliss recently compiled a list of the top 10 companies where young employees are happiest, based on more than 48,000 employee-generated reviews. It’s no surprise to us – Cisco was ranked as #5 overall! Many thanks to our employees for this honor – you make us happy, too!

How Organized is Your Cabling?
Any IT guru will agree: this is an amazing feat of organization. Extra credit to anyone who can keep cabling in line like this!

How IoE Will Bring Up to $14 Trillion of Value to the World
During the 2013 Cisco Editors Conference, Padmasree Warrior and Sean Curtis demonstrated how applications, cloud, data centers and intelligent networks come together to deliver new experience and opportunities. Watch to learn more:

Cisco and Wired: Re-Imagining Magazines As We Know Them
Cisco and Wired are joining forces to provide living examples of the Internet of Everything and its future possibilities. Explore this interactive magazine to see how IoE is changing every aspect of our lives.

What Keeps a CEO Up At Night?
In this latest installment of Leadership@Cisco, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers talks about his love for adventure, the importance of family and the characteristics that make a good leader. Learn what he’s most passionate about, where he sees technology going in the future and what keeps him up at night in this video.

Cloud Curious?
Cloud computing is fundamentally changing the way businesses and people consume information. It is enabling IT as a service, evolving collaboration and changing content delivery. See for yourself how Cisco is helping service providers of all sizes navigate the world of many clouds:

Coordinated Attacks Against the U.S. Government and Banking Infrastructure
In this blog post, Mike Schiffman and other Cisco employees inform us of a round of planned cyber attacks that have been launched against the U.S. government and banking systems. They provide an overview of the situation along with resources and best practices to prevent and respond to the attacks. For more information on how to protect against these attacks, don’t miss this post:

Check out the Cisco Storify feed for even more great content!

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Capturing Value from Data in Motion in the Internet of Everything

Much has been written about the vast number and variety of things that will soon be connected to the Internet—from milk cartons and alarm clocks to sensors and trains. Already in 2008, that number exceeded the number of people on earth. By 2020, when the next incarnation of the Internet—aka the Internet of Things—is in full swing, the number is expected to reach 50 billion. And it’s not just things that will add value and relevance to networked connections, but also people, data and processes.

Think about it. Through their interactions with the Web, social networks and devices—especially mobile devices—people have a massive multiplier effect on the amount of IP traffic traversing the network. In 2012 alone, new, more powerful smartphone technologies combined with growth in both mobile bandwidth and apps produced annual mobile data traffic nearly 12 times greater than the total Internet traffic in 2000 (Cisco Mobile VNI 2013).  

Add to that a coming tsunami of constantly streaming data as sensors in just about everything become the norm—not just wearable sensors attached to our bodies, clothes and shoes, but also sensors, meters and actuators in our cars, machinery and infrastructure. And let’s not forget the critical role that processes will play in managing and automating this explosive growth in connections as well as in the collection, analysis and communication of data. People, data, processes and things. Together, they will make up the next phase of the Internet of Things—the Internet of Everything.

Data in Motion vs. Data at Rest

Zooming in on data in the age of the Internet of Everything, there’s another critical distinction that needs to be made. You see, not all data is created equal. Most of the new data being generated today is real-time data that fits into a broad category called Data in Motion. This refers to the constant stream of sensor-generated data that defies traditional processes for capture, storage and analysis, and requires a fundamentally different approach.IoE Jim Gubb Blog1

Let’s back up a minute. Historically, in order to find gems of actionable insight, enterprises have tended to focus their analytics or business intelligence applications on data captured and stored using traditional relational data warehouses or “enterprise historian” technologies.

However, the limits of this approach have been tested by the increase in volume of this so-called Data at Rest. The challenges inherent in collecting, searching, sharing, analyzing and visualizing insights from these ever-expanding data sets have led to the development of massively parallel computing software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers. As innovative and adaptive as these Big Data technologies are, they still rely on historical data to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.

This rising tide of Data in Motion is not going to slow down. In fact, as the Internet of Everything gathers momentum, the vast number of connections will trigger a zettaflood of data, at an even more accelerated pace. While this new Data in Motion has huge potential, it also has a very limited shelf life. As such, its primary value lies in its being captured soon after it is created—in many cases, immediately after it is created.

For instance, real-time traffic information from cameras, sensors and connected cars allows drivers to avoid traffic jams and use sugConnect_This_coffee_1281gested alternate routes, potentially reducing hours of unproductive time spent behind the wheel. Similarly, manufacturers can connect their stock inventory with their suppliers’ production systems so that potential delays can be identified as early as possible and corrective actions taken on their respective shop floors to better prioritize people’s activities. In each of these cases, it’s easy to see the added value of connecting not just things, but also people, data and processes.

The real challenge for data-driven organizations is how to manage and extract value from this constant stream of information, and turn it to competitive advantage. Data in Motion represents a new type of data whose value can not always be extracted through traditional analytics. In a next post, we will look at examples of Data in Motion and how to extract value from it.

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Continuing Conversation: Rick Smolan and the human face of big data

As more devices, people and things become connected to the Internet, an unprecedented amount of data will be generated: data which can become a powerful tool for solving some of the greatest challenges facing our planet.

Carlos Dominguez and photojournalist Rick Smolan

Carlos Dominguez and photojournalist Rick Smolan

I spoke with well-known photojournalist Rick Smolan about how we can turn data into wisdom, and the importance of capturing data in real time. Rick has worked at Time, Life and National Geographic and is the creator of the popular Day in the Life book series. In his most ambitious project to date, he tackled the subject of big data in the Human Face of Big Data project.

I talked with Rick about what his project is discovering, and the first part of our conversation was published in the blog Is there a human face behind big data?

Cisco co-sponsored the project because we believe we’re entering an era of the “Internet of Everything” which will bring data as well as people, processes and things together to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.

In today’s blog, we continue the conversation by focusing on how big data can improve our communities and the world.

Q:  Rick, your project’s premise is that real-time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, billions of sensors, RFID tags, GPS-enabled cameras and smart phones, is beginning to enable us to sense, measure and understand aspects of our existence in ways never possible.  Your recently published book The Human Face of Big Data has some wonderful examples on harnessing data to improve the world – do you have a favorite?    Read More »

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