Cisco Fleshes Out Its IoT Vision at Virtual Summit

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Cisco’s virtual IoT summit (held on June 18 as a special adjunct to Cisco Live) helped illustrate how its IoT products and those of its partners work together to provide end-to-end solutions to businesses in diverse industrial verticals and help bring together IT and OT constituencies.
  • Recent additions to the IoT portfolio include high-capacity and ruggedized networking equipment to meet industrial requirements, while Cisco’s intended acquisition of Fluidmesh and a variety of partner solutions add differentiated capabilities.

Cisco acknowledges that the customer’s need for visibility and security, IT/OT collaboration, and expanded connectivity is driving its IoT solution mix. It is optimistic about the road ahead for IoT, seeing new opportunities in smart cities, railways, utilities, public safety, manufacturing, oil & gas, ports, and mining. As organizations are converging to all-IP networks, they are also experimenting with use cases such as real-time traffic updates, automated power distribution, predictive maintenance, and wireless backhaul for fast-moving assets. This need for higher performance and bandwidth plays into Cisco’s core routing and switching product portfolio, so it is no surprise that two new products noted at the Summit were for network connectivity equipment. However, beyond routers and switches, the vendor also has products and platforms for IoT connectivity management, data control and exchange, edge computing, and cybersecurity as well as a lot of interesting partner solutions that add to its IoT opportunities. With these building blocks, in Cisco’s words, it can help “build a robust network, identify and secure devices, expand connectivity everywhere, extract data, and drive outcomes.”

So what is new from the vendor for IoT?

  • Switches: In order to support the higher upstream and downstream data capacity required for use cases such as video analytics for road safety and health monitoring via 3D sensors/thermal imagery, and to allow for more devices on WiFi networks, Cisco announced a new ruggedized version of its Catalyst switch line, the IE3300 10G, which provides central network policy control and proactive network management using the same tools as before (Cisco Prime, DNA Center plus Cisco Cyber Vision, Stealthwatch, and ISE). It is designed for larger uplink requirements, devices requiring more power, and higher bandwidth needs. It integrates well into Cisco’s larger portfolio and also helps extend Cisco’s IoT security offering for both IT and OT operations.
  • Industrial routers: Cisco introduced the 1R1 101, which it described as ruggedized, secure, and offering high availability and edge compute. Cisco described use cases in manufacturing, utilities, oil & gas, public safety, transport, and smart cities that would need its capabilities, noting it is cloud-managed and already integrated with a Cisco operator partner’s wireless network and its own connectivity management platform to serve public safety use cases.
  • Fluidmesh: Cisco recently announced its intent to acquire a company which provides resilient wireless backhaul with zero packet loss. This technology is important for very fast-moving assets which cannot afford to lose any data. The solution allows for up to 700 Mbps throughput at speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour. The most compelling use case for this technology is autonomous and automated vehicle control including trains, but it will also be important to ensure zero packet loss for video security, including live video and audio streaming.

Partner solutions were also included in the three-hour session, adding interesting use cases that demonstrated how partner products and services are woven into deployments and integrated with Cisco solutions. Presentations from partner Quanergy and from customer/partner Orange Cyberdefense were featured.

  • Quanergy offers AI-powered LiDAR solutions that use pulsed laser light to provide real-time 3D imaging for objects such as people and vehicles and can analyze their position, speed, and direction. Use-case examples included accident prevention at crowded intersections, analysis of wait times in stations, capacity in buildings or parking lots, and other smart city insights. The system can be used in any lighting condition, is highly accurate, and preserves privacy. Cisco described how the Quanergy solution takes advantage of equipment such as its IE4000 at intersections, with each intersection’s data aggregated to a 10GBE ring and processed at a data center populated by Cisco switches.
  • Cisco partner Orange Cyberdefense described industrial use cases (tunnel infrastructure, manufacturing controls, data centers) where both IT and OT come together and require safety, availability, and security solutions. Orange Cyberdefense offers a portfolio for both IT and OT security, which can integrate with Cisco’s new Cyber Vision offering that includes assessments, threat intelligence, network segmentation, governance, and compliance with OT-specific contextual information to add to security SOCs. Elements of Cisco’s solution are built into its industrial networking equipment.

The IoT Summit helped provide a useful perspective on how Cisco approaches and serves the industrial IoT opportunity. It also featured new products and solutions that help show Cisco’s focus areas and areas of differentiation through both its own products and its partner ecosystem. This is important because there have been times where the vendor’s IoT portfolio has seemed disjointed or overly focused on its traditional router solutions or on its well-known IoT Control Center connectivity management platform.

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