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Internet of Things: More than a Trend, a Real Business Opportunity

March 26, 2014 at 10:00 am PST

We live in the age of the mega trends. You name it, from high in the Cloud, to everywhere Mobility, Big Data, Social, Analytics and more. The Internet of Things (IoT) became part of that select group of mega trends not that long ago, and its relevance, support and understanding have been growing steadily for the past couple of years.

But IoT is more than just a trend. For business it represents a huge opportunity to create and deliver new and better services to their customers. How big? It depends who you ask, but no matter which group you ask, from the most respected analyst firms to the thought leaders in the industry, they all agree that the opportunity is massive, real, and here now.

Now, from our perspective as a technology solutions company, and reflecting on the topics we are covering with our partners at the World Wide Partner Summit this week in Las Vegas, I believe the following four points can help to explain how relevant IoT is from a business perspective: Read More »

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Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system

What does an already innovative company like Cisco do more to innovate?  What do we need to do differently to influence or shape the next breakthrough that will fundamentally change our industry and Cisco?  As we embark on a journey to transform Cisco into a #1 IT solution provider, we know we must innovate more and faster – and spot the next industry-shaping change before it catches our industry off-guard.

We believe one of the key strategies for reinventing innovation at Cisco is to embrace openness.  Open innovation is a concept developed and evangelized by leading organizational experts, including Dr. Henry Chesbrough, the Executive Director of the Program in Open Innovation at UC Berkeley.  It focuses on how organizations can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas – and internal and external paths to market1.  Open innovation enables us to stay abreast of and shape the next big change that is going to impact Cisco and our industry.

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My #InternetOfEverything World: Living the Connected Life

The power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate, fueled exponentially by technology. According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI), over half a billion mobile devices and connections were added in 2013 and, by the end of 2014, the number of connected devices will exceed the number of people on the planet. And as mobile network connection speeds double by 2018, it will become easier and faster to increase the number of your connections, as well as how you use them.

Not only is everything (and everyone) getting connected – but those connections are getting smarter. It’s making us redefine what it means to be connected and moving us to see the world through a different lens. It’s about more than just creating connections -- the user experience is now the new benchmark.

The experience starts with you. Self-tracking is a growing trend, with wearable devices and embedded computing becoming more and more pervasive in our daily lives. This is what’s driving the quantified self movement, defined as “an advanced way of collecting data about an individual’s life using technological tools.” I’ve been using activity-tracking devices for some time and currently own all of the most popular brands, so I can personally attest to the power of information and how it’s changed my behavior as a result.  A quick glance at my wrist, for example, offers a plethora of data that helps me decide whether to walk to a meeting or perhaps take a cab – with the ultimate goal of keeping me on track to stay fit and healthy.  And by gamifying the results with award badges and fun animations, these devices can also help motivate you in attaining your goals. I’m not alone in this quantified self quest -- 90 million wearable devices are expected to ship in 2014, with health and fitness wearables being the key driver.

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The Three Mega Trends in Cloud and IoT

A consequence of the Moore Nielsen prediction is the phenomenon known as Data Gravity: big data is hard to move around, much easier for the smaller applications to come to it. Consider this: it took mankind over 2000 years to produce 2 Exabytes (2x1018 bytes) of data until 2012; now we produce this much in a day! The rate will go up from here. With data production far exceeding the capacity of the Network, particularly at the Edge, there is only one way to cope, which I call the three mega trends in networking and (big) data in Cloud computing scaled to IoT, or as some say, Fog computing:

  1. Dramatic growth in the applications specialized and optimized for analytics at the Edge: Big Data is hard to move around (data gravity), cannot move data fast enough to the analytics, therefore we need to move the analytics to the data. This will cause a dramatic growth in applications, specialized and optimized for analytics at the edge. Yes, our devices have gotten smarter, yes P2P traffic has become largest portion of Internet traffic, and yes M2M has arrived as the Internet of Things, there is no way to make progress but making the devices smarter, safer and, of course, better connected.
  2. Dramatic growth in the computational complexity to ETL (extract-transform-load) essential data from the Edge to be data-warehoused at the Core: Currently most open standards and open source efforts are buying us some time to squeeze as much information in as little time as possible via limited connection paths to billions of devices and soon enough we will realize there is a much more pragmatic approach to all of this. A jet engine produces more than 20 Terabytes of data for an hour of flight. Imagine what computational complexity we already have that boils that down to routing and maintenance decisions in such complex machines. Imagine the consequences of ignoring such capability, which can already be made available at rather trivial costs.
  3. The drive to instrument the data to be “open” rather than “closed”, with all the information we create, and all of its associated ownership and security concerns addressed: Open Data challenges have already surfaced, there comes a time when we begin to realize that an Open Data interface and guarantees about its availability and privacy need to be made and enforced. This is what drives the essential tie today between Public, Private and Hybrid cloud adoption (nearly one third each) and with the ever-growing amount of data at the Edge, the issue of who “owns” it and how is access “controlled” to it, become ever more relevant and important. At the end of the day, the producer/owner of the data must be in charge of its destiny, not some gatekeeper or web farm. This should not be any different that the very same rules that govern open source or open standards.

Last week I addressed these topics at the IEEE Cloud event at Boston University with wonderful colleagues from BU, Cambridge, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford and other researchers, plus of course, industry colleagues and all the popular, commercial web farms today. I was pleasantly surprised to see not just that the first two are top-of-mind already, but that the third one has emerged and is actually recognized. We have just started to sense the importance of this third wave, with huge implications in Cloud compute. My thanks to Azer Bestavros and Orran Krieger (Boston University), Mahadev Satyanarayanan (Carnegie Mellon University) and Michael Stonebraker (MIT) for the outstanding drive and leadership in addressing these challenges. I found Project Olive intriguing. We are happy to co-sponsor the BU Public Cloud Project, and most importantly, as we just wrapped up EclipseCon 2014 this week, very happy to see we are already walking the talk with Project Krikkit in Eclipse M2M. I made a personal prediction last week: just as most Cloud turned out to be Open Source, IoT software will all be Open Source. Eventually. The hard part is the Data, or should I say, Data Gravity…

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Ask The #IoE Futurist: “In an Internet of Everything World, Will the Smartphone Become Superfluous?”

In my role as Cisco’s Chief Futurist, I get many questions about what the future holds and how new technology and emerging solutions will change our lives. Given the positive feedback and the volume of questions being submitted from the community around the first series, I’ve decided to do another series to answer questions from the education and tech community around the Internet of Everything (IoE). Whether the questions are global in scope, such as how the Internet of Everything will shape our world, or small in nature, like our most recent Ask the #IoE Futurist question about batteries or today’s question about the smartphone becoming superfluous, I enjoy the challenge of answering them all.

A few weeks ago, brand new smartphones and wearable smartgear products were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While many of the specs and capabilities of these emerging devices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they all represent a common theme: mobile devices are not only becoming more present in our daily lives, but also changing how we connect, interact and share experiences.

As the Internet of Everything (IoE) drives more connected things, data, people and processes, how will the future of smartphones evolve? Will the endless possibilities for connected cars, shoes and dishwashers mean that the smartphone becomes one extra device for us to carry?

In this Ask the #IoE Futurist post, I’ll answer a question from John Spade (@DaSpadeR), a Cisco Champion, about how smartphones might change in an IoE world. Here is John’s question:

Question: “The smartphone lets us bring the Internet with us, but in the Internet of Everything, will the smartphone itself become superfluous?”

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