You can compare the Internet of Things (IoT) to the human body. When your hand picks up a –cup of hot tea or coffee, touch sensors in your fingers detect right away it is hot. Pain impulses to the nervous system signal the brain to let go of the cup. While actuators in the hand obey, the brain stores this event. Next time, you are probably more careful picking up a cup of tea or coffee. A healthy human body orchestrates all these elements perfectly, from the brain (cloud) to the extremities (the edge).
Like the human body, IoT solutions are typically combinations of elements—such as software services, sensors, actuators and other hardware. These elements need to work on a large scale, in unison with each other and other IoT solutions. And like the human body, these elements need to be managed from the edge to the cloud.
We have seen initial IoT deployment successes. But when IoT becomes part of the digital transformation of a company, it can get complicated. Software services and hardware from multiple vendors need to be deployed in a complex environment. This environment is a multi-tenant, heterogeneous, hyper-distributed infrastructure consisting of multiple clouds, devices and the network edge. Several of the main challenges are:
- Management and scaling
- Reducing silos for different IoT solutions
- Managing different infrastructure needs for IoT services
- Security and data management
When not addressed, these challenges often lead to higher OpEx, less synergy among IoT services due to the service and data silos, inefficient use of the underlying infrastructure services, mismanagement of data, and security breaches. Overall, these factors diminish the value IoT can bring to the organization.
A unified service management and orchestration approach, built around open standards and bridging the cloud to the edge, can meet these challenges. What’s important is to take into account the evolution and needs of existing technologies relevant for the expansion of IoT. These technologies include Network Function Virtualization (NFV), 5G, and fog computing. They have overlapping core needs, including service virtualization, analytics enablement, multi-tenancy, service assurance, billing, and policy management.
At Cisco Live Barcelona 2018, we will demonstrate such a unified service management and orchestration approach. We’ll show how it has been successfully applied in several proofs of concept (PoCs) in different domains. We have built the core of the approach around Network Function Virtualization Management and Orchestration (NFV MANO) from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), NETCONF and YANG. The approach leverages the highly scalable Cisco NSO technology beyond traditional networking services. On top of that we use best-of-breed Cisco services for networking, security, and analytics enablement.
One key takeaway of these PoCs is that IoT is at a stage where we can see successful deployments, but these deployments tend to be siloed, and stand-alone implementations. To be able to scale across organizations, we need a comprehensive service management approach. We can begin with some of the ideas outlined in this post.
Come visit us at World of Solutions during Cisco Live Barcelona in the Strategic Innovation Zone booth. We look forward to demonstrating the importance of unified service management for IoT and discussing new opportunities with you.