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Cisco IoT Leader Resigns: What's Next?

Internet of Things general manager Guido Jouret resigned this week. Where does that leave Cisco's Internet of Everything strategy?

CES 2014: Cisco's Internet of Everything Vision
CES 2014: Cisco's Internet of Everything Vision
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Cisco confirmed this week that Guido Jouret, GM of Cisco's Internet of Things (IoT) group, has resigned. IoT constitutes the core of Cisco's Internet of Everything (IoE) strategy, which CEO John Chambers frequently claims will generate as much as $19 trillion in new revenue by 2020 for Cisco and its customers. Cisco senior VP and enterprise networking GM Rob Soderbery will replace Jouret as IoT group lead.

Cisco defines IoE as the linkages that bring IoT to life. In other words, iPhones, connected homes, smart parking meters, and other objects embedded with sensors and radios aren't useful without an infrastructure to connect them. Cisco naturally envisions its technology as the glue that unites a coming world of connected devices.

[Is IoT really ready for primetime? Read Internet of Things: What's Holding Us Back.]

Jouret's departure was first reported by blogger Brad Reese. Cisco confirmed in an email to InformationWeek that Soderbery now leads the IoT group, and that Jouret left to "pursue a new opportunity." A company spokesman declined to elaborate.

In an interview with InformationWeek last October, Jouret said the IoT group's goal is to "help connect the unconnected," noting that only 1% of devices were then linked up. Connecting the rest requires specific considerations, such as ruggedized equipment for field use and edge-level intelligence (or "fog computing," as Cisco calls it) so companies don't go bankrupt sending all the data they collect back to their cloud datacenters.

In Cisco's ideal world, sensor-embedded shoes will collect data that lets manufacturers see how well their designs work in the real world, and bike helmets will communicate health records to ambulances in the event of a cycling accident. But before that world fully materializes, Cisco and other IoT players face a number of hurdles.

Connecting billions of devices means convincing millions of companies in closed, proprietary verticals to adopt at least some open standards. Otherwise, we won't have an "Internet of Everything," so much as many disconnected "Internets of Some Things." Moreover, security concerns are already pervasive enough on the conventional Internet. One can imagine the implications, if everything from baby clothes, to cars, to city street lamps becomes an opportunity for hackers.

Guido Jouret
Guido Jouret

Despite these challenges, few major tech players deny IoT's potential. Microsoft and Intel are among those who've showily declared large-scale IoT ambitions over the last few months. Don't look at Jouret's departure as evidence that Cisco is retreating from its IoE commitment. More likely, it's due to Jouret's finding a better job in a hot tech sector, or Cisco wanting a new executive to drive this vital area.

In an interview with InformationWeek last month, Jouret showed little indication that he intended to leave. Rather, he spoke enthusiastically about his team's recruitment and retention efforts, which he described as indicative of IoT's exciting potential.

While IoT applications, such as the connected home, are in the early, experimental stage of adoption, businesses are charging ahead. By using sensors on machines such as a power plant turbines and connecting those sensors to a network, a company can collect data and monitor performance and maintenance in order to prevent a breakdown and its resulting production disruption.

Cisco is one of five founding members of a group formed last month called the Industrial Internet Consortium, which is trying to drive standards for things such as information security and data sharing that are needed for business uses of IoT. Other founding members include AT&T, GE, IBM, and Intel.

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 3:55:40 PM
Re: Maybe he left...
Reminds me of the new Mike Judge show on HBO, Silicon Valley.

And, of course, of the actual Silicon Valley.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2014 | 3:46:44 PM
Re: Maybe he left...
>As far as IoT is concerned, I think it's just so we can live in a world like in futuristic movies.

It's also about startup companies creating enough hype to get acquired before anyone figures out that the company's technology doesn't do much that anyone really cares about.
MitchC207
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MitchC207,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/12/2014 | 1:53:24 PM
Re: Maybe he left...
The Iot is a train wreck if there is poor management. Choosing which items should communicate and not is where intellect,values, ethics come to bear. I think that a lack of preparation, some poor considerations for security, ethics might have led to his departure in theory. This is a lot of money to wager and countries stand to rise and fall based on their considerations for the Iot. Companies will need to be viewed as capable, responsible contributors to capitalize on this future. The Internet communication structure is central to a proper deployment of Iot technology. I too believe that the proliferation of device communication is a 'hackers dream' and not a 'customer dream' ... The customer wants some rules for the game like phones, laptops can talk to Tvs if I give them permission but x devices will never have a chance... Maybe we should make them all actually talk out loud....If devices are going to talk they have to be exchanging non-exploitable data and or be capable of protecting or forgetting it. Data use transparency may never arrive but the future of society will be depending on it. The private market has a special way of building problems in technology through diversity, freedom.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 8:43:22 AM
Re: Maybe he left...
It seems like the entire tech sector -- and Silicon Valley in particular -- is all about solutions without problems.

As far as IoT is concerned, I think it's just so we can live in a world like in futuristic movies.

Of course, things don't tend to work out so well in those futuristic movies...so maybe it's not such a great idea.
bolarotibi
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bolarotibi,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/12/2014 | 7:33:30 AM
Re: Maybe he left...
In reply to Thomas Clayburn's comment, I think he make good points about who might get the most from IoT. The reality is that there will be obvious applications that enable useful analysis to be conducted for identifying specific patterns that will help targeted groups to improve either products or provide better management services. In the engineering world they have had the use of Telemetry systems for a while to do remote monitoring of machinery out in the field. So I can imagine that through IP enabled devices the process of monitoring might potentially be cheaper. But then it will require security concerns, network bandwidth and the cost of sending traffic to be addressed and standards to be developed and widely adhered to if cost savings are going to be made.  

For mass market appeal such as the connected home then the applications will need to be more intelligently thought about. What experience are we trying to offer the user needs to be a key consideration if it really is to be of any value. The examples mentioned in the article are useless. What is the use of providing shoes with sensors for everyone? What does that tell us anyway especially given that there are many reasons why someone purchases a shoe, and it isn't always about comfort (stilettoe shoes come to mind). Now it might be useful for a specific category of users e.g. those requiring orthopaedic support, then I can imagine a controlled monitoring of a selected group perhaps being useful.

AS to why Guido Jouret's departure, I am not sure one should read too much into this since it is clear that IoT offers significant potential but must be carefully crafted. He is apparantely leaving for other opportunities and may be it is just as simple as that.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
5/10/2014 | 1:21:56 AM
Re: Maybe he left...
I could not agree more... I trust you are right... at the present... with most devices it only like rip and replace... and no other way around...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
5/10/2014 | 1:20:05 AM
Re: Maybe he left...
change in IT it way of life, how I see it... survival for fittest  this days...
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/9/2014 | 5:34:37 PM
Re: Maybe he left...
The Internet of Things is a solution without a problem. Most consumer devices are not improved by being able to communicate. The data may be valuable to device makers and other companies, but most people are not going to see any meaningful benefit from a linkage between their thermostat and their washing machine. And for businesses, networking objects just magnifies security risks. Businesses already have a hard time protecting their computers. It only gets worse if they have to worry about their coffee makers as an entry point for hackers.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2014 | 3:31:13 PM
Maybe he left...
Maybe he left because IoT shoes and bike helments are ridiculous ideas. I can just picture myself bleeding to death on the sidewalk while an EMT fiddles with a tablet trying to download the right drivers to read the chip my bike helmet. On the plus side, the helmet can radio Foursquare to check me in as "comatose."
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