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Cisco enters the Internet of Everything era

IoE strategy focuses on four converging entities: people, processes, data and things


July 1, 2013  


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Orlando, Fla. — Cisco Systems Inc.’s reinvention of itself continued unabated in June with the launch of new switching and router equipment and a networking architecture designed to “expand” the scope of its Open Network Environment known as ONE.

Speaking at the Cisco Live user conference here in late June Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Enterprise Networking Group, said “the network is more important than ever before in enabling the user experience in today’s applications.”

New hardware offerings included:

• Cisco Catalyst 6807-XL modular switch for the next-generation campus backbone, optimized for 10/40/100 Gbps. It is a 7-slot, 10-rack-unit modular chassis with up to 880 Gbps per slot capacity and 11.4 TB per port switching capacity.

• The Catalyst 6880-X, a 3-slot, 4RU switch with 16 fixed 10 Gbps port Supervisor engine and four half slots for optional 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps line cards, supporting up to 80 10 Gbps ports or 20 40 Gbps ports.

• Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR) 4451-AX, which addresses the needs of large branch offices, and the

• Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1000-AX.

All products are part of the new Cisco Enterprise Networks Architecture, which the company said “enables applications to get the networking information they need to offer more innovative services to end users with less hands-on administration from IT professionals.”

ONE applies software programmability to ASICs, operating systems, networking functions, and services across the data centre, WAN and LAN.

In addition, the company launched Application-Centric Infrastructure, an architecture designed to transform the data centre to better address demands of new and current applications in the Cloud computing era.

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, wrote in a blog released on the day of the launch, that in order to meet these demands, the infrastructure must evolve: “It must become application-centric. Network, compute and storage need to be able to operate as one high-performance resource pool that can be provisioned instantly and automatically according to the needs of the application and related IT policies with security pervasive throughout.”

In his keynote speech, Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales, said the existing network architectures do not “connect the physical to the virtual seamlessly and are not removing the complexity that all of us are trying to remove. They are adding a level of complexity in many cases and that is not good.”

That is the technical bent. The more intriguing side to all of this is that the product upgrades and data centre transformation plans are being done because of four converging entities: people, processes, data and things that collectively form an entity Cisco defines as the Internet of Everything or IoE.

In his keynote speech, company president and CEO John Chambers told the audience that in 1984, only 1,000 so-called “things” were connected to the Internet and today there are 20 billion. By 2020, the total will reach 50 billion.

“You are seeing the processing power, the storage and the programmability and the knowledge that comes into the network in ways that I think will completely transform IT,” he said. “We are going to use this to catapult into the number one IT position.

“A year ago, the CEOs I talked with were focused on operational excellence and productivity. Now, they are desperate for growth.”

During a media Q&A session he added that “what you are seeing on a global basis is an understanding that there is a major transformation going on.

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One week before the user conference, Cisco released an IoE Value Index study that concluded firms that “optimize connections” among people, process, data and things will generate the largest profits.

Cisco said it builds on research conducted earlier this year, which found that “global business could pursue as much as US$14.4 trillion over the next decade by leveraging IoE to improve operations and customer service.

This year alone, businesses around the world could generate US$613 billion in global profits; however, the study found that corporations could nearly “double those profits though greater adoption of business practices, customer approaches and technologies that leverage IoE. Globally, an additional US$544 billion in profits is possible, while in Canada alone the figure is US$56.8 billion.

“IoE has the potential to significantly reshape our economy and transform key industries,” said Lloyd. “The question is who will come out op top and win in this new economy. This study shows us that success won’t be based on geography or company size, but on who can adapt fastest.”

Dave Evans, Cisco’s chief futurist, predicted that IoE will “dwarf everything we have seen in terms of what Internet has done before. This is big. It is going to impact every part of our lives. There is not a single industry that exists or will exist that will not be impacted or benefit from IoE in some fashion.

“From a people perspective the way we are going to connect to the Internet tomorrow will be radically different. The Internet will be on us, in us and around us. The way we connect to the network, the way we connect to one another, the way we connect to services is going to change. By the end of this year, we will create more new information every 10 minutes than we did in all of history as of 2008.”

In a white paper he defined how each segment will work as follows:

People: As the Internet evolves toward IoE we will be connected in more relevant and valuable ways. For example, in the future, people will be able to swallow a pill that senses and reports the health of their digestive tract to a doctor over a secure Internet connection:

Data: Rather than just reporting raw data, connected things will soon send higher-level information back to machines, computers and people for further evaluation and decision making.

Things: This group is made up of physical items like sensors, consumer devices and enterprise assets that are connected to both the Internet and each other. In IoE, these things will sense more data, become context-aware and provide more experiential information to help people and machines make more relevant and valuable decisions. Examples of “things” in IoE include smart sensors built into structures like bridges, and disposable sensors that will be placed on everyday items such as milk cartons.

Process: With the correct process, connections become relevant and add value because the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time in the appropriate way.

“In a world where the rapid pace of change has nearly rendered five-year business plans useless, why consider next steps?” he wrote.

“Simply stated, the more you can prepare for the future, the better off you will be when it arrives. And because of the tremendous amount of transformation and disruption IoE is expected to create, it is not too early to start planning for a world where more people, information and things will be connected than ever before.”

Demonstrations of IoE took place on the show floor of Cisco Live and elsewhere and included:

• The Cisco Connected Car, a communications network architecture for vehicles.

• Connected healthcare, which provides doctors, nurses and hospital employees with a way to check patient statuses and communicate with one another instantly.

• A Security and Facilities Operations Centre demo that showed how a community could be protected and managed through centralized monitoring and emergency dispatch capabilities

• The iRobot Ava 500 video collaboration robot. According to Cisco, it blends together iRobot’s autonomous navigation with TelePresence to enable people working off-site to participate in meetings and presentations

• A Smart and Connected Community (S+CC) built on a unified network platform that allows politicians to make a community economical and environmentally sustainable.

According to Evans, “when the history of IoE is written, its success or failure will be determined by answering one question: How did (it) benefit humanity? In the end, nothing else matters.”