Cisco is looking to push adoption of the Internet of Things by announcing the second generation of the Cisco IOx Platform, which has been augmented by a new Application Management Module. The vendor also outlined expansion of its fog computing strategy and components of its Internet of Everything (IoE) Software and Services Suite for Data Analytics during the recent Internet of Things World Forum in Chicago.
Cisco IOx platform updates include new app management module for IT teams
As part of Cisco's Fog Computing portfolio, the Cisco IOx platform allows customers and service providers to develop, manage, and run software applications directly across Cisco's line of industrial networking devices, which includes hardened routers and switches. Fog computing refers to Cisco's strategy of allowing third party operating systems -- like Linux and industry software applications -- to run directly on Cisco's hardened network devices so that applications, storage and compute power can live on the edge of the network, closer to the things they power, like sensors and devices, the company said.
Distributed intelligence is important for enterprises and industries with many connected machines and devices, said Todd Baker, Cisco's head of IOx product management. "With endpoints and highly distributed systems, connectivity might not always be there, so we have to have logic at the edge, and a little bit of intelligence to keep things running smoothly [in case] there isn't always connectivity," he said.
The management of the distribution of intelligence is no easy task, which means it's often neglected, Baker said. The newly introduced IOx Application Management Module allows businesses to manage and monitor centrally all of their Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints and fog computing applications running on Cisco's IOx edge. The Module is a standalone interface that enterprises can use to load their applications remotely on an IOx device and do lifecycle management of applications at the edge, Baker said. "Sometimes it's hard to even to get to the physical location [of the device] to apply a patch or install software on it," he said. "The module allows IT to see the routers available that are capable of having apps installed on them, and distribute the changes out that way. It really simplifies what [IT] needs to do."
Cisco also added IOx support for more of its hardened routers for an industrial environment, including three routers in its 800 series -- the 819, 88x and 89x. "We can have hardened platforms, and connect them and begin doing things like data filtering and putting in processes for resiliency -- it’s a software update for these platforms," Baker said.
Cisco IOx effectively turns devices and machines into endpoints on the network, giving IT better visibility into these endpoints, as well as a better way to manage them. Having a management platform is especially helpful for large-scale environments with many endpoints. But until now, enterprises have been at the mercy of their IoT application platform, and the management tools that may or may not have come with their applications, said Steve Hilton, principal analyst and managing director at MachNation, a Boston-based analyst firm specializing in machine-to-machine technologies.
"It's great to see that Cisco continues to expand IOx for more device platforms. This is really important, since customers can have multiple platforms [but] need a common tool to manage all. IOx is [a] good example of empowering Cisco partners and customers to make IoT deployments more cost effective," Hilton said.
Although manufacturers have been early adopters of IoT, other industries will see IoT applicability down the road, and a platform like IOx can help alleviate the management burden for in-house IT teams. "There's applicability for IOx across any industry sector that has a fairly dense number of assets in a defined area," Hilton said. "A manufacturing facility is a good example, but so are construction sites, hospitals, warehouses and transportation [and] distribution centers."
Cisco IOx includes new software, services to help businesses make sense of their data
Cisco also introduced the IOx Software and Services Suite to compliment changes made to the IOx platform and Application Management Module. The new portfolio includes features that can help businesses understand data generated from their IoT applications and endpoints, and help enterprises make decisions based on actionable data and changes in the environment. The new suite includes features like analytics, data virtualization, data integration and automation software that can reach endpoints on the edge of the network, the company said.
Cisco also announced an expansion to its IOx Partner Ecosystem, bring on-board new partners including Intel and GE.