The Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea that everything in the world can be connected to the network. Instead of just servers and mobile phones, the IoT vision sees a world in which manufacturing, industry and embedded devices are all part of the Internet.
When networking giant Cisco looks at the Internet of Things, what it sees is an opportunity. This week, Cisco officially launched its Internet of Things business unit in a bid to consolidate its efforts and fully capitalize on the opportunity.
Guido Jouret, general manager of the Internet of Things Group at Cisco, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that new network connections are a good thing for Cisco. He noted that 25 years ago, most connectivity was very heterogeneous, but that that evolved as IP became dominant in the enterprise and for the Internet.
When it comes to current industrial automation communications, Jouret said that today's landscape is very diverse, with silos of connectivity. Bringing industrial communications into the Internet era is one of the many goals of the Cisco IoT business unit.
The requirements of IoT devices are diverse and include capabilities that Cisco already has in its traditional networking portfolio, as well as in new products that Jouret's group is building.
"We need to bring our equipment to locations that are cooler, hotter and dustier. It's not just a matter of putting a new box on top of existing gear," Jouret said.
As an example, Jouret explained that in order to sell communications gear to railroads, there is a requirement for a special type of coating on electronics. Train brake pads generate a lot of brake dust, which can cripple electronics and therefore necessitate special coating. Another example is in the mining industry, where electronic communications gear needs to be certified to make sure the gear doesn't generate any sparks.
Jouret said that there is additional software to develop and work that Cisco must do to make its products ready for specific industries as they move to the IoT. That said, the Cisco IoT Group will leverage all of Cisco's strengths and benefit from existing product lines.
The Cisco Iot Group will have its own overlay sales team, with industry experts to work with existing Cisco accounts and develop new ones. For example, Jouret said that Cisco has been working with the Ford Motor Company for a long time on core IT operations. Cisco has not, however, worked with Ford on manufacturing operations and areas now in the realm of IoT.
"Not all the customers are new, but the areas we need to reach are new," Jouret said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist