The Internet of Things and the way in which different industries are transforming their business is having a direct impact on the type of networking infrastructure they now require. Digitization, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Automation are now the main drivers for many companies across multiple verticals to look into new ways of offering their services, running their day to day operations, dealing with their customers and suppliers and become more efficient.

But let’s look first into what we mean by Critical Network Infrastructure. Generally speaking, we refer to the information technologies and cybersecurity systems required to run mission critical applications that support the continuity of normal business and government operations. These systems provide the resiliency to avoid vital network interruptions and non-recoverable failures. They are also characterized by providing High Availability, Optimal Performance and Increased Security.

In the past, before IoT and Digital Transformation became ubiquitous, almost the only companies that required this type of Network Infrastructure were what we refer to as Service Providers or Telecommunications Carriers. These are the organizations that provide telephony, cellular services, internet broadband access and nowadays even cable and video streaming services. Networks are a Critical Infrastructure for this type of companies because their business model has always been based on providing connectivity in one way or another. Up until very recently we have referred to Critical Network Infrastructure simply as SP networking or Carrier infrastructure.

All these has changed as more and more industries require to provide an improved Customer Experience, and while the networking infrastructure was used in the past to provide mainly back-office operations and internal communications services, nowadays whole business operations have to run over this infrastructure and the interaction with the end users relies solely on the low latency,  uptime. and security of these networks.

Critical Information and as a result the data traffic carrying it, is moving closer and closer to the end user, across multiple regions and over very long distances. By the year 2021 up to 41% of all the data traffic will be delivered across multiple countries.[1]

The demand for reliable real-time data is more critical than ever, with the arrival of Smart Homes, Autonomous Vehicles and Smart Cities the expectation is to have Secure, Fast, Simple and Reliable data. This can only be achieved by having High-Performance Networking, Automation & Analytics, Always-On and Secured Trusted Infrastructure to interconnect all of these systems.

Some of the most immediate IoT Use Cases that require Critical Network Infrastructure, and hence where some of the greatest opportunities are for Cisco and our Partners are in the Industrial Verticals and Public Sector. Let me give you a few examples here: 

  • Smart Cities

As more and more cities provide multiple services to their inhabitants, reliability and data privacy becomes critical. Some of the main challenges cities are facing include the effects of urbanization, it is estimated that by 2050 68% of the worldwide population will be living in cities.[2] Shifting economics, sustainability and public safety are also some of the main trends impacting today’s cities. Technology can help solve some of these problems, including Lighting, Parking, Environmental control, Urban Mobility, Water Supply, Safety & Security and Waste Management. A Multi-Services Network including a Connected Communities Infrastructure Layer is required to provide all of these services! And guess what? This is an actual Network Critical Infrastructure, the one we have been talking so much about so far.

  • Utilities

Power Utilities are also facing a new set of challenges that are transforming the way in which they Generate Energy, operate the Power Grid and interact with their Customers. In the past Customers were only seen as simple Rate-payers, but IoT is turning them into real Clients with high Customer Experience expectations. Electrical Vehicles, Distributed Energy Resources, Renewable Energy and Smart Homes are all shaking-up an industry that has been mainly focused on providing stable electricity supply for over a century. However, Power Supply is and has always been a matter of national security for every country. The electrical power grid is now changing as it has to adapt to all of these new challenges and expectations. The grid is a critical infrastructure that is becoming interconnected and that has to be run over a Critical Network Infrastructure. 

  • Manufacturing

Over the past few decades globalization has turned the supply chain of almost every product into a multi-national affair. Different parts are manufactured across the globe and assembled in faraway locations. At the same time Digital Automation is turning Discrete and Process Manufacturing into one of the most accelerated verticals for IoT and Digital Transformation. Industry 4.0 is the concept of smart factories where robots and machines are interconnected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain and make decisions on its own.  If we add-up these trends the result is that manufacturing companies need to be able to provide High-Performance, Scalable, Resilient connectivity with very low latency (due to the precision required for many manufacturing processes), while at the same time having a high degree of flexibility across long distances with strong security and policy control. Sounds familiar?

These are just a few industries where the Critical Network Infrastructure that was required mainly by Service Providers in the past is now a “must” for many Industries. I could go on and on, but the idea is just to give you a glimpse into what is possible. Other industries close to my heart such as Transportation, Mining, Oil & Gas and many more are having very similar needs with their own specific requirements and industry trends all being driven and fostered by IoT technologies. And all of them represent a great opportunity for Cisco and all of our Partners.


To learn more about Cisco’s Network Critical Infrastructure please visit our SP Solutions website and our IoT website. 

For more information about how our Partners can make the most out of these technologies please check out our Partner Success Guide.


José Luis Salazar Valenzuela

Global Senior Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure

Cisco Global Partner Sales