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IoT Security: Keep Calm and Connect On

Secuirty in IOT Experts Panel at LiveWorx 5-5-15

There’s a lot of hype around securing the Internet of Things (IoT). At the end of the day, I suggest that a more reasoned approach is in order. Securing the IoT will not be achieved by frantic worry about the volume of endpoints. Myopic focus on the volume of devices in an IoT ecosystem can lead to an important misstep: forgetting that it’s the Internet of Things. That means that all this data is passing through the network. Therefore, tackling security can only occur with diligent attention to the core of the IoT, namely, the network stack. In that way security can become as pervasive as the IoT itself.

I recently had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion at LiveWorx’s CXO Forum on Securing the IoT. Here are two predictions with respect to the IoT and security that I shared with the audience and my co-panelists at the event:

  1. Access and identity management will be critical in an IoT ecosystem. However, the username and password won’t be part of tomorrow’s approach: the password will die – and soon. It’s not radical to point out that passwords are insufficient on their own for authenticating access to sensitive data. I don’t think that means we’re going to go immediately to 21 levels of authentication, for example. We do need a human factor, and it can be biometric, or it can be at an endpoint. We’re familiar with straightforward biometrics such as the iPhone’s fingerprint scan, but there are also newer methodologies that track the exact way a human swipes a smartphone screen. We can leverage technologies such as this to enhance security in the IoT and its member devices.
  1. Our industry must work together in public-private partnerships to put a stop to the proliferation of regulations – country by country or region by region – that are creating a tangled web of laws, regulations, and guidelines around security. Conflicting guidance, standards, and regulations cause confusion rather than clarity. International standards bodies and government regulators should consider removing territorial blinders and revisiting the real mission: ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, that information and communications technology (ICT) are genuine and free from compromise and will not permit control over the operations for which they are used.

While strong international standards for IoT security and new authentication methods are just two pieces of the larger puzzle that will make IoT more secure, they are essential pieces. We at Cisco are working to make inroads in both these areas. Stay tuned.

IoT Truck

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Opportunities and Value Through Data Science (Part 1)

I recently attended the Strata + Hadoop World Conference in San Jose, and came away impressed with the accelerating pace of innovation in the world of Big Data. Companies and startups are innovating in every area of the Big Data value chain – from automating how data is collected, cleaned, and organized; to data governance and management; to data storage using a plethora of NoSQL database technologies; and to the numerous emerging tools for data science. Read More »

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Cisco and Bit Stew Set Out to Transform the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – One Customer at a Time

Kevin Collins

Kevin Collins, CEO and co-founder, Bit Stew

We’ve introduced several of the key figures within Bit Stew and shared with you the ways they are working to bring the IIoT to fruition, particularly within the energy sector.

I had a chat with Kevin Collins, CEO of Bit Stew to discuss the next opportunities for the company:

“It’s an exciting day at Bit Stew, with the announcement of additional funding from Cisco Investments and GE Ventures. With this support, we will continue to bring our experience in managing massive data sets and optimizing edge and fog computing to automate industrial operations in utilities and other industries as well.”

Kevin told me that the new funding will help fuel Bit Stew’s ongoing technology innovation and customer adoption: “This investment will open doors to new market opportunities for Bit Stew, and positions the company as a global leader in Software Defined Operations for IIoT. Bit Stew has quickly become the hot company to watch”.

GRID-EDGE-20Bit Stew was recently recognized to Greentech Media’s prestigious Grid Edge 20 list, as one of the top 20 innovators architecting the future of the electric power industry, along with Tesla, Duke Energy and SolarCity. “Making the Grid Edge 20 provides validation of our strong market traction, and is a tribute to what we’ve achieved since Bit Stew was incorporated in 2009. It also serves as a reminder of the responsibility we have to our utility customers, partners, and the industry as we work towards transforming the power sector to one that is more efficient, reliable and agile.”

Purpose-built for the Industrial Internet
The MIx Core platform is the culmination of years of industry-hardened machine learning derived from trillions of data points analyzed throughout the utility and oil and gas industries. Purpose-built for the Industrial Internet, MIx Core processes and analyzes greater volumes of data than most of the largest social networks in the world every day.

Bit Stew’s MIx Core takes full advantage of Cisco’s IOx technology, by embedding its core technology inside Cisco fog devices, providing data analysis at the edge of the network and in cloud-based systems – all in real-time. Running MIx Core in the “fog” brings a significant new advantage for organizations that are dealing with massive amounts of data running on complex networks in the IIoT

“Bit Stew’s collaboration with Cisco and the synergy between our Mix products and Cisco’s IOx platform has allowed us to utilize fog computing to completely revolutionize the way the energy sector operates,” Kevin said. “By using the edge of the network in the computing and analysis process, together we can create instant intelligence that is shared simultaneously in the operations center and in the field. This contextual analysis of industrial operations enables decision-making with a confidence that wasn’t necessarily available before. This expanded awareness results in increased up-time, faster issue resolution and optimized dispatch of resources,” adds Kevin.

Clearly Bit Stew is going places. And not just with utilities anymore. Find out more here: Read More »

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#DigitalTransformation Fueling the Need for Workforce Transformation

Digital disruption is transforming virtually every role in every industry. Every day I see how the proliferation of online, mobile, and social interactions has created the need for completely new marketing strategies—and completely new skillsets for marketing professionals. We can see this same disruption across industries, as the Internet of Everything (IoE) creates fundamental transformation through the networked connection of people, process, data, and things.

For example, we recently published a new report that shows a global oil and gas (O&G) industry awash with disruption, and primed for digital transformation. Low oil prices have upended the sector, spurring an urgent rethinking of strategy by oil and gas executives—and accelerating the adoption of IoE.

This disruption is one of many factors impacting the oil and gas workforce today—from field workers all the way to the executive suite. Not only will new skills be required in an industry transformed by IoE, but new digital processes will also be needed to transfer knowledge, collaborate to solve problems in real time, and capture insights from a torrent of digital data.

To become agile enough to compete in the IoE Era, the oil and gas workforce must possess a mix of technical skills, industry knowledge, and business acumen. With talent shortages due to massive numbers of professionals retiring over the next few years—and a lack of necessary digital skills among those who remain— O&G firms need to make bold moves to transform their workforce strategy.

  1. Extend the reach of existing expertise –Video-based collaboration can help bridge the expected talent gap by making the most of professional expertise that is spread too thin, as well as providing ongoing training throughout the organization. Video and web collaboration can effectively bring remote experts to any location, without the need for travel. For example, Saipem, an Italian oilfield services company, has employed high-definition video conferencing to cut travel costs, boost productivity, and provide subject-matter expertise throughout the company and with partners.

Real-time collaboration tools are increasingly important for far-flung oil and gas organizations.

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Analytics Opens a Window into Each Shopper’s Journey

The key to retail today is customer understanding —where each customer stands on his or her personal shopping journey, whether in-store or out. Retailers must “know” each shopper as never before. And they must offer the kinds of contextual, personally relevant experiences that will optimize their merchandise mix, create faster inventory turns, and drive greater customer engagement.

After all, the typical customer today is mobile, connected, and has heightened expectations. Many are accustomed to a deeper level of real-time interaction from innovative online retailers than from traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Yet, as a recent Cisco study revealed, offline retailers – or retailers that combine on and offline capabilities – have their own unique advantages – if they step up to the opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy. By blending the benefits of the physical store — such as the ability to touch, compare, and try on products — with the benefits of the virtual world, retailers can create a new value proposition that can’t be matched by their online-only competitors. In the process, they not only drive their own industry’s disruption but challenge for market leadership.

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