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At the annual Cisco Live user conference in Las Vegas, "network intuitive" stole the majority of the news, but it was the company's two significant announcements with respect to its Cisco IoT platform positioning that really stood out.
In the past, I've been somewhat critical of Cisco in IoT as it's been one of the biggest evangelists for IoT, but its strategy has been unclear. Obviously, in a world where everything is connected, a company that connects things should thrive, but there seemed to be little else to its strategy. That changed last year when Cisco acquired IoT platform vendor Jasper.
IoT is certainly on every business leader's mind, but going from concept to reality has its challenges. At June's IoT World Forum in London, Cisco's vice president of products and solutions marketing, Inbar Lasser-Raab, pointed to some research that found that only 26% of IoT projects are completed on time and on budget, with many failing at the proof-of-concept phase. IoT creates thousands of new connections and creates massive amounts of data, and businesses need a way to manage this complexity. The new Cisco IoT platform products are aimed to do that.
At Cisco Live, the company announced a major upgrade to Jasper. Control Center 7.0 is the biggest upgrade to the product since Cisco acquired the company, which has grown to being deployed and sold today through more than 50 service providers that are managing IoT connections in more than 11,000 enterprises. The updated Cisco IoT platform aims to help customers bridge the gap from proof of concept to reality by providing real-time visibility and better control to connect, secure and manage IoT devices and monetize the deployments.
Control Center 7.0 delivers the following new capabilities:
- Multilayer IoT security. In a recent ZK Research survey, 77% of respondents cited security as the top barrier to IoT adoption. The new Control Center takes a multilayer approach to security by introducing closed user groups, segmentation, two-factor authentication and whitelisting. Given many IoT devices have no inherent security capabilities, the more Cisco can build into Jasper, the faster companies can roll out IoT without creating new security risks.
- Enhanced analytics. The product includes a number of new reports that provide trending information and device behavior. IoT endpoints generate loads of data; the analytics can be used to help businesses understand what's happening today, but also plan for the future.
- Support for low-power wide area (LPWA) networks. Prior versions of Jasper supported cellular services such as 2G, 3G and LTE connections. Control Center 7.0 now supports LPWA connections, including NB-IoT and LTE-M, making it the first product to support both cellular and LPWA connection types.
- Integration with Cisco Spark. I've long been a believer that IoT and unified communications were on a collision course. IoT historically has been used to enable machines to talk to machines and unified communications enables people to communicate with people. Now with the new Cisco IoT platform, machines can converse with people and vice versa through Cisco Spark. Consider a hospital where a patient's alarms could be sent directly to a virtual Spark room. Doctors, nurses and other specialists would all have access to the same information and could collaborate, share ideas and log information. Cisco Spark can be used to give IoT devices a voice.
The second announcement from Cisco was a new product called Kinetic, which helps customers turn the potential energy stored in its IoT systems into kinetic energy that can accelerate deployment.
Kinetic is focused at getting the petabytes of data out of IoT systems to where it can be analyzed to create revenue-generating insights. The product focuses on three key areas: IoT connections, fog computing and data delivery. It runs on the new Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches, as well as existing ruggedized router and switching infrastructure.
As the Cisco Jasper Control Center now manages both cellular and LPWA connections, Kinetic complements this nicely by working with Wi-Fi and wired IoT endpoints. Between the two Cisco IoT platforms, the company can help customers manage IoT in almost any shape or form regardless of connectivity type or where the data is stored.
Hopefully, at next year's IoT World Forum the number of customers with successful IoT deployments will be much greater than today's 26%.
Editor's note: Cisco is a client of ZK Research.