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Fog Computing: Bringing Cloud Capabilities Down to Earth

When we think of “cloud” we think of a vast collection of compute, network, and storage capabilities that resides somewhere high above us—a massive repository of functionality that can be accessed from anywhere and any device with enough bandwidth to handle the data flow.

With practically unlimited power and scalability, cloud technology has been a key enabler of the Internet. But the Internet of Things (IoT) demands something more. IoT is a broad collection of sensors, cameras, smartphones, computers, and machines—all connected to and communicating with applications, websites, social media, and other devices. To maximize value, much of the data generated by these “things” must be processed and analyzed in real time. For example, sensors and cameras in and around a large retail store may continuously collect data about customer volume and traffic flow. The store can derive some value from all this data by sending it back to the cloud to analyze long-term trends. But the value is multiplied if the system can process the data locally, in real time, and then act on it immediately by sending more cashiers to the check-out line just before a surge in customer traffic.

This sort of real-time, high-bandwidth application requires a new distributed cloud model that brings cloud networking, compute, and storage capabilities down to earth—to the very edge of the network. My friend Flavio Bonomi has worked tirelessly with both academia and other industry partners to advance the concept of fog, inspired by the way the San Francisco fog extends the cloud to the ground. Fog computing creates a platform—what we call a fog node—that provides a layer of compute, storage, and networking services between end devices “on the ground” and cloud computing data centers. Fog is not a separate architecture; it merely extends the existing cloud architecture to the edge of the network—as close to the source of the data as possible—to enable real-time data processing and analytics. Read More »

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IoE and Managing Assets in Motion: Making Better, Smarter, Faster Organizations

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is connecting everything everywhere — on the land, in the air, and even on the sea. Cisco recently helped a competitive yacht crew win regattas using the IoE to provide the competitive edge. The vessel was outfitted with an IoE ruggedized platform combining boat sensor data; GPS, wind, and weather information; and a local Wi-Fi network to help the crew make critical decisions almost instantaneously.

Tony Shakib Blog Pic

I’m particularly excited about this implementation of Cisco’s Mobile Asset Management. The program highlights our ability to connect data from billions of things so people can make smarter decisions about how to live, work, and play. This is a perfect example of the immense power of the IoE to solve real-world problems through connectivity, insightful data and analytics.

The most impressive attribute of the Mobile Asset Management Suite is that it applies to all industries. It helps customers identify, track, control, monitor, and secure IT and non-IT assets across buildings, remote sites, retail locations, manufacturing facilities, and more.

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IT Paradox: Managing More Complex Networks with Limited Resources

I speak with Cisco customers regularly. The topic of the Internet of Everything (IoE) comes up often.  Put simply, their concerns can be summed up in a single question: How can I prepare for the network of tomorrow when it’s difficult to keep pace with managing the fast-moving complexity of my network today?

IoT: So Many Vulnerabilities. So Little Time and Resources. So Much at Stake.

Research firm IDC predicts there will be over 28 billion connected devices installed by 2020, while fellow analyst Gartner forecasts that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020.

An example of one industry that’s moving to meet this opportunity is retailing. Like me, I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in your shopping experience — whether it’s contextual matching of products to your personal profile or in-store product or pricing comparisons using your mobile device.

But moving into the revolutionary digital retail environment enabled by the Internet of Things doesn’t come without risk. New connectedness brings new security threats. For the typical network administrator a major security issue like the Heartbleed bug can quickly turn into a bad case of heartburn. What’s the nature of the vulnerability? What devices are impacted? How do I respond? When you combine these questions with the day to day demands of directly supporting end-users, answering technical questions, resolving network issues, writing scripts, creating reports, monitoring systems and managing version controls, it’s not surprising that a network operations team can be overwhelmed. And that’s before the growing connectivity fueled by the Internet of Things.  Read More »

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IT Competitions Unleash Critical Thinking and Hone Job Skills

One year from now more than 10,500 athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees will put their skills and perseverance to the test at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Next year’s medal winners may go on to become professional athletes, role models, and commercial spokespeople – for many, the visibility and success they achieve in front of an international audience launches their careers.

Most of us are familiar with the world’s largest international multi-sport event. But it might surprise you to learn that next week a different kind of global competition will take place in Brazil. Instead of tennis, swimming, or gymnastics, next week’s participants will show off their abilities in 50 professional fields – ranging from carpentry and cooking to robotics and web design.

Held every two years, the WorldSkills competition inspires and prepares today’s young people to become the skilled professionals of tomorrow. Participants also gain hands-on experience that helps them stand out with employers.

The Internet of Everything economy will create many opportunities for creative, tech-savvy people everywhere. As a WorldSkills Global Partner, Cisco provides networking infrastructure and sponsors an entire segment of the competition – IT Network Systems Administration, or Skill #39.

A student competes in Skill #39, IT Network Systems Administration, at WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. About 90% of Skill #39 competitors participate in Cisco Networking Academy. Photo courtesy WorldSkills.

A student competes in Skill #39, IT Network Systems Administration, at WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. About 90% of Skill #39 competitors participate in Cisco Networking Academy. Photo courtesy WorldSkills.

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Why the Fortune 500 is Fast Becoming the Digital 500

As part of its research for this year’s annual Fortune™ 500 issue the magazine polled the CEOs of all the companies on its latest list of industry leaders. When asked, “What is your company’s greatest challenge?” the number one answer among the CEOs was, “The rapid pace of technological change.” Holding second position on their list of challenges was cybersecurity. The magazine remarked on the results, “Today’s CEOs clearly recognize that new technologies are going to radically change the way they do business. And they know that they need to figure it out before their competitors do.”

A major contributor to this change is the emergence of the Internet of Everything. Billions of devices, machines and equipment are being connected to the Internet at astronomical rates. These hyper-distributed things are creating unprecedented demands for data understanding and new business processes from every player in every industry value chain. The result will be a massively connected and integrated digital community that creates new services and experiences for each participant. Read More »

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