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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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IoT Meets Standards, Driving Interoperability and Adoption

For years, industrial control systems have been characterized by proprietary devices, protocols, communications, and applications. However, at the Hannover Fair last spring, virtually every exhibitor showed products that support IP, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi interfaces—something that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is driving this change, with an exponentially growing number of connections among people, process, data, and things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key enabler of this evolution. By 2020, according to Cisco’s analysis, there will be 50 billion connected devices—all needing a common way to work together.

As I discussed in my last blog, the worlds of Information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) are converging—and they are converging around standards. The good news is that the industry is recognizing that a fragmented, proprietary model does not scale, and inhibits the value of IoT deployments. The IoT standardization efforts are focused on four different areas: Read More »

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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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Open Standards, Open Source, Open Loop

As the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) meets in Hawaii (IETF 91), the unavoidable question for both participants and observers is whether a Standards Development Organization (SDO) like the IETF is relevant in a rapidly expanding environment of Open Source Software (OSS) projects.

For those new to the conversation, the open question is NOT whether SDOs should exist.  They are a political reality inexorably tied to trade policies and international relationships.  The fundamental reason behind their existence is to avoid a communications Tower of Babel (with the resulting economic consequences) and establish governance over the use of global commercial and information infrastructure (not just acceptable behavior, but the management of resources like addressing as well).  Rather, the question is about their role going forward in enabling innovation. 

SDO Challenges

SDOs (like the IETF) have to evolve their processes Read More »

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OPEN: A Fundamental Part of the Network of the Future

Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two important trends in the networking industry – the evolution of open standards and open APIs, and the definition of policy as the key interface to the network.

Open is an extremely important word to the future of networking. The simple dictionary definition for open means not closed or locked, allowing access to inside, and freely accessible.

The ultimate networking environment will allow a user the freedom to connect anything together in the cloud and to an existing environment. In order for this vision to happen, companies must work together to create a common language.

OpenStack has garnered a lot of interest in the development community and among our customers.  We at Cisco have been actively helping to shape the discussion around policy.  Working collaboratively with our partners and competitors, we helped create Group-Based Policy (GBP), an intent-driven policy API for OpenStack.

The Group-Based Policy initiative represents a significant innovation in how users conceive, manage, deploy, and scale their applications in OpenStack clouds.  And its now available as a 100% open source solution available to any vendor.  When coupled with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, we are able to offer our customers a completely policy-driven network.

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