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Cisco Provides Leadership in Newly Formed OpenFog Consortium

The OpenFog Consortium has made its debut as an ecosystem of industry and academic leaders to foster an open architecture for fog computing in the Internet of Things (IoT). This is an important milestone that will accelerate IoT deployments and maximize their value across a wide range of industries.

AP46072_small_croppedMy friend and colleague, Helter Antunes, has been a pivotal force in forming the OpenFog Consortium and has worked tirelessly with other founding members to iron out the myriad of details involved in creating this sort of multi-party organization. He has also been instrumental in developing Cisco’s own fog computing strategy. That is why I am particularly pleased to congratulate him on being named the OpenFog Consortium’s first chairman, who will guide the group through its formative stages. Read More »

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OpenFog Consortium: An Ecosystem to Accelerate End-to-End IoT Solutions

Over the past several months,OpenFog Logo V1.01 I have been privileged to represent Cisco in working with other industry and academic partners to form the OpenFog Consortium, which was announced earlier today. You can learn more in the press release about what this new organization is, but I want to focus on why such an organization is so important at this stage of development of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Earlier this week, my colleague Maciej Kranz discussed the city of Barcelona’s fog computing proof of concept, which was showcased at the Smart City World Expo Congress. The proof of concept demonstrated that fog technology can bring intelligence to a range of urban services, including transportation, parking, lighting, traffic and waste management, public safety, and law enforcement.

But smart city services are only the beginning. Fog computing can provide immense value across all industries. For example, it might take 12 days via satellite to transmit one day’s worth of data to the cloud from a remote oil rig. With fog computing the data is processed locally, and safety or equipment alerts can be acted upon immediately. In manufacturing and transportation, preventive maintenance applications can process a huge amount of sensor data to trigger needed maintenance before there is an equipment failure. In retail, data from parking lot video cameras can not only provide security surveillance, but can also work with fog analytics capabilities to predict store traffic flow and optimize checkout staffing.

OpenFog Chart

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Back to Business: IoT Makes Traditional Industries Cool Again

The U.S. space program in the 1960s and ‘70s was a classic example of an innovation model that began with a government initiative, was applied to enterprise issues, and finally filtered down to consumers. Internet innovation in the early 2000s turned that model on its head by focusing first on consumer needs, consumer applications, and consumer-oriented technologies such as e-commerce, mobile, social, and cloud.

Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) is inverting the innovation yet model again, bringing enterprise-oriented business-to-business (B2B) technologies and applications back into vogue. IoT is making traditional industries such as manufacturing and logistics “cool” again.

One indication of this trend is the large number of startups focused on enterprise solutions. I meet with several startups every week, and all of them seem to be focusing on some aspect of IoT—analytics, fog computing, vertical applications, sensor connectivity, and more. These startups see the huge transformative business opportunity of IoT, as the connections among people, process, data, and things become more pervasive. Millennials are driving this digital transformation. We can see their influence as consumers in the auto industry, for example, where new cars have essentially become smartphones on wheels. But now Millennials are also driving IoT innovations as participants who insist on using mobile devices and state-of-the-art software and tools to access and control IoT operations.

The Internet of Things is sparking innovation in traditional industries.

The Internet of Things is sparking innovation in traditional industries.

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The Internet of Things: Why Now?

The time is ripe for an IoT explosion. The number of connected “things” in the world has skyrocketed from about a million in the early 1990s to 13 billion today. As the Internet of Everything (IoE) gains momentum—digitizing business processes in every industry—we expect to see 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The technology connecting all these devices has become affordable and easy to integrate. But that is not the primary reason for this explosion in connected devices. I believe we are entering a “golden age” of digitization because of the confluence of the following factors:

Business Relevance: Lines of business (LOBs) are emerging as a key buying center for technology. The executives running plants, oil fields, or logistics systems have realized that technology solutions can deliver business outcomes critical to their business success —beginning with improved productivity, increased uptime, and reduced costs. It used to be that LOBs would work only with specialized integrators for specific, customized solutions. Today, business leaders want to change the way they consume technology. They are looking for technology providers who, together with a comprehensive ecosystem of partners, can pull together business-relevant solutions based on open standards and architectures. To meet these needs, technology companies such as Cisco are changing how we operate and how we go to market. Cisco has invested heavily in developing vertical solutions based on horizontal capabilities. We have built deep services practices and vertical go-to-market capabilities, and have invested in a comprehensive ecosystem of partners with whom we deliver not just great technology, but solid business outcomes.


IoT adoption is being driven by the move to open standards and IT/OT convergence, helping to power better business outcomes across industries.

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It’s Not Just the Connections, It’s the Applications

The Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting sensors, cameras, machines, and other devices at an amazing rate. But what drives the value of these digitized devices is not just the connections—it’s the applications that the connections enable. Think, for example, of a connected transportation system. It is not enough that buses have GPS and can connect to the Internet—what could really make a difference is an application that dynamically plans bus routes based on where people are, how long they have been waiting, and where they are going. That’s where the true value is.

You might even say that applications are the reason we connect things and collect data from those things. So those of us who are building the IoT infrastructure must understand what application developers need, and then enable them to take advantage of the IoT infrastructure and the data it carries. This means we need more than open APIs—we must make it easy for an application to get the data it requires from the infrastructure and to provide input into the infrastructure.

Additionally, we need to respond to the changing ways people want to interact with the devices at the edge. Traditionally, a process engineer might control or program a production line using a fixed human-machine interface (HMI) screen physically attached to the production machinery. Today, there is a growing need for remote and mobile interface capabilities—especially for the growing ranks of Millennials who want to be able to use iPads and other mobile devices to interact with IoT deployments. Cisco’s IOx platform is a flexible application development environment with a goal of enabling developers to connect applications with any protocol, interface, or device. In the future, this could even enable a control engineer in the factory to look at a robot’s operation through smart goggles, instantly viewing maintenance statistics and malfunction alerts.

Millennials in the workforce demand flexibility and mobility in interacting with IoT deployments

Millennials in the workforce demand flexibility and mobility in interacting with IoT deployments

It’s also extremely important to Read More »

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