Cisco CTO: Internet Of Everything Much More Than SDN

CTO Padmasree Warrior goes one-on-one with InformationWeek to explain Cisco's larger vision for Internet of Everything.
When John Chambers discussed IoE in February, he said that success will rely on open standards and cross-industry collaboration; otherwise, an object speaking one proprietary language won't be able to communicate with objects built on other proprietary platforms, limiting the extent to which different data points can be pulled together. To effectively deploy IoE on a citywide scale, for example, local leaders would need to aggregate data collected by devices from different manufacturers. If utility meters, traffic monitoring devices, atmospheric sensors and other objects all collect information autonomously and in a vacuum, their respective data points will speak only to finite use cases.

Cisco's devotion to standards is notable, given that less than a year has passed since InformationWeek survey respondents criticized the company for being too proprietary. Warrior said the results were somewhat surprising, as Cisco has advocated an open approach for years. She suggested the outgoing network model itself might be partly to blame, however; pointing out that while the command-line interfaces that typify traditional networks amount to a closed system, the new networks' API-driven compatibility translate this system into an open platform.

Warrior said that businesses must consider specific challenges when devising an IoE strategy, a recommendation that echoes John Chambers's view that companies should focus on use cases rather than technology. She said that Cisco is developing use cases for specific verticals to improve efficiency, such as a manufacturing plant that installs sensors in the factory to more accurately detect developing equipment malfunctions.

Evoking the CEO's argument for cross-industry cooperation, Warrior said that certain vertical uses cases could easily become horizontal in execution. A merchant, for example, might collaborate with the city to help customers reserve parking spots via a smartphone app, which would benefit the retailer by driving traffic to the store, the city by reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and consumers by mitigating gas costs and time lost to parking searches.

Cisco's IoE plans are already moving quickly and could pick up additional steam in October, when the company will host its Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona, Spain. Based on the agenda discussed at a steering committee in February, when Chambers declared IoE's place in his company's plan, the conference will address revenue opportunities, standards and collaboration, as well as security, privacy concerns, social impacts and IoE availability in the developing world.

Chambers suggested that IoE's winners and losers could be determined within the next five years, if not sooner. Time will judge this statement, of course, but given that the World Forum's participant roster includes heavyweights such as General Electric, Ford, Oracle, Qualcomm and Verizon, Cisco certainly seems to have the industry's ear.

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