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IT Is from Venus, OT Is from Mars

Bringing Alien Worlds Together in the Internet of Things

In the 1990s, I, like millions of others, read the book Women Are from Venus, Men Are from Mars. This best-seller suggested that the frequent misunderstandings between genders make it seem as though men and women are from different, alien worlds. But it’s not just men and women who appear to be from different planets. Today, every organization that has begun an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment is bumping up against a fundamental disconnect between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). In many cases, these two groups are alien to one another—with separate technology stacks, network architectures, protocols, standards, governance models, and organizations.

In the first wave of the Internet, data and technology systems fell solidly in the realm of IT. IT systems focused on the flow of data across an organization, and with a few exceptions, did not get involved in production and logistics environments.

However, in many companies, a parallel organization—commonly called operational technology —has grown up to monitor and control devices and processes that act in real time on physical operational systems, such as assembly lines, electricity distribution networks, oil production facilities, and a host of others. Read More »

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The Internet of Everything is Personal for This Cisco Employee

Karen Miller Morris and her son, ChaseWhen you work at Cisco, the Internet of Everything (IoE) becomes more personal to each of us. However, for one Cisco employee, the Internet of Everything takes personal to a whole new level.

Just a few months ago, Karen Miller Morris had her “mom-ness” put to the test when she found out her 8-year-old son, Chase, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Since Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder, there wasn’t anything that Karen could change about Chase’s eating habits or exercise to help him. It meant monitoring and maintaining blood sugar levels through administering insulin for the rest of his life.

Her Cisco family was there to support her – she was able to take a month’s leave to make the changes needed –but as it turns out, the company was helping her in a way that’s uniquely Cisco.

“I thank Cisco engineers all the time for the contributions they make to the Internet of Everything,” Karen says. “If it wasn’t for the IoE mhealth (mobile health) solution I recently purchased, things would be a lot more dangerous for my son, and stressful for the people that love him.”

The cloud, the network, and the Internet of Everything (the networked connection of people, process, data, and things) make it possible for Karen to sleep at night.

Shortly after her son was diagnosed, a company called Dexcom came out with an IOE solution. She uses their continuous blood glucose monitor, which uses a sensor inserted into his arm that wirelessly communicates with a digital monitoring device (Continuous Glucose Monitor-CGM). That device shows what his blood glucose (BG) level is every 6 seconds. This data is then sent across networks into the cloud, which means she can see Chase’s BG level anytime, anywhere on her phone.

Karen, and “Team Chase” (a whole team of family members, nurses, teachers and friends) watch his numbers to ensure he’s in an optimal BG range. Plus, this IoE solution empowers Chase, and ensures all that he’s safe.

Karen’s sister also has Type 1 Diabetes, and she and their family didn’t have the technology advantage that Chase does. Parents of the past had to send their children to sleep with higher-than-optimal blood sugar numbers, so they wouldn’t get too low at night and end up in a coma – or worse. The trouble is, higher sugar numbers are also very dangerous over the longer term.

“I think about people who had to deal with this 40 years ago. They were living in the dark, making decisions without the data that we have today. This IOE solution helps us to ensure Chase lives a life where he can realize his dreams.”

That’s one of the many reasons Karen enjoys working at Cisco.

“I love working here, because it‘s like working for the U.N.,” Karen laughs. “We’re here for the good of all; to make sure that we’re helping researchers and companies that are doing these amazing things solve complex problems and provide ground-breaking solutions.”

Plus, she has a job that she says “if I was a millionaire, I would do it for free.” Her goal is to raise awareness about the technology careers of tomorrow. Not just encouraging college and high-school students; but, students as early as elementary school to get excited about tech, and the difference they can make (which is especially important for young girls when it comes to being intrigued by technology.)

Take, for example, her son Chase.

“He’s proud of his medical device and shows it to everyone,” Karen says. “It’s gotten him interested in becoming a young user experience designer. He thinks that instead of a negative alarm when his blood sugar drops, it should play a song like, ‘you’re going low.’ If he can make it cooler, maybe gamify it, he could make it better for the next kid that is faced with this challenge..”

Understanding the Internet of Everything, and getting kids excited about technology, starts with an inspiring story. Karen’s got hers, what’s yours? Share with us in comments!

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U.S. Army Builds Internet of Everything Infrastructure for the Fighting Force of Tomorrow

Every July, we celebrate on the 4th to commemorate the Continental Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence.  This year, the patriotic occasion reminded me of an event held last month when, together with United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier and the president of Sonim Technologies, Bob Plaschke, I announced a partnership with Sonim for the digital transformation of the communications systems supporting the U.S. Army training center in Fort Irwin (California).

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Cisco 5520 and 8540 Wireless Controllers – Powering Next-Generation Wireless Networks

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Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller

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Cisco 8540 Wireless Controller

Recent trends suggest that unless upgrades are made to current wireless infrastructures, these networks are going to get bogged down in the coming years. By 2019, the way people use their devices are expected to change as more devices—which will all be incrementally faster—will enter the workplace. In addition to the overall number of devices increasing, the tasks that they perform will also evolve. Video streaming usage is expected to increase 13-fold and take up to 74% of total mobile data traffic, according to the 2015 Cisco Visual Networking Index Mobile Forecast Study (CMFS).

And while bandwidth intensive applications, such as video, will be the main culprits that chew up your wireless infrastructure, there are other factors that will slow down your networks too. The CMFS reports that by 2019, 53% of fixed IP traffic will be Wi-Fi, which means that wireless will be exceeding wired traffic by 21%. Couple that with an estimated 85% of enterprises implementing some sort of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy by the end of the decade—perhaps tripling the amount of devices on your workplace LAN—and increased video isn’t the only thing you will be worried about.

But it’s all not just extra laptops, mobile devices and streaming videos, the Internet of Everything (IoE) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) traffic will be vying for your wireless network too. The CMFS study says that 28% of device connections will be from M2M traffic. Read More »

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Number of Access Technologies and IoT Deployments Is Skyrocketing

Almost daily, I work with customers and partners as they develop strategies to gain competitive differentiation through innovative technology. One area bursting with change is the Internet of Things (IoT), which has grown more than threefold in number of deployments since 2012. This is the first in a series of blogs on technology and business factors to keep in mind while considering IoT, beginning with the explosion of IoT access technologies.

The first wave of the Internet focused on enabling human communication. Since the early 1990s, the number of connected devices has skyrocketed from around 1 million personal computers to 15 billion networked devices today. As more and more devices enter the picture, we are developing the key building blocks for the next big wave of the Internet, called the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. IoT is a major enabler of IoE, connecting sensors, machines, and other devices.

By 2020, there will be as many as 50 billion connected devices—including cars, buses, trains, office buildings, factories, oil rigs, homes, and entire cities. Some are stationary, some mobile, some have IP addresses, some don’t, some are always on, some intermittent, some are clustered together, some geographically dispersed. This diversity is driving a proliferation of access technologies to connect them. No longer limited to Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G/4G, IoT deployments today also include satellite, Bluetooth LE, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRa, Power Line Communication (PLC), and various Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN) such as Wi-SUN. Which technology is best for each situation depends on several criteria: Read More »

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