Cisco sees $14 trillion opportunity in IoT
Rick Merritt 3/14/2013 9:10 AM EDT
The Internet of Things is front and center on Cisco’s technology radar, said executives at the networking giant’s annual press event. SAN JOSE, Calif. –Cisco Systems is gearing up for what it claims could be $14 trillion opportunity with the Internet of Things. Top technical executives shared plans for the networking giant to embrace IoT as well as efforts to extend to key partners its internal process of evaluating new technologies.
As many as 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, creating a $14.4 trillion business opportunity, said Rob Lloyd, president of sales and development at Cisco, speaking at an annual press event. The trend will create business opportunities initially in manufacturing, government, energy and health care that extend far beyond today’s budgets for computer and communication systems, he said.
The IoT space also presents a host of challenges. For example, Cisco is working with a dozen utilities worldwide in hopes as many as 10 million smart meters will be deployed by the end of the year supporting Internet Protocol. Today, as many as 2 billion smart meters are in operation using a mishmash of as many as 135 utility protocols. “There are cases where we need gateways, and we will have a migration strategy,” said JP Vasseur, a Cisco fellow.
Cisco crammed into 40 Kbytes RAM an IPv6 stack for smart meters now supported on a handful of microcontrollers from companies such as Atmel, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.
U.S. cybersecurity laws hampered adoption of open, routable protocols, but those rules are due for an update as early as this month easing the way for IP, said Rick Geiger, executive director for Cisco’s smart grid group.
Separately, Cisco invested in Cohda Wireless (North Adelaide, Australia), a vendor of 802.11p boards seen as a key enabler for connecting cars to the Net. The U.S. Department of Transportation is conducting trials of the technology which can be used to connect cars to each other and to infrastructure to smooth traffic flows and avoid accidents.
Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, demonstrated an automated parking system using sensors from Streetline, a Cisco partner. The products will be used in Cisco’s own headquarters and are one of many examples of sensors that will link businesses and consumers over mobile networks, creating opportunities for services managing big-data analytics, she said.
Cisco is installing Streetline sensors at its headquarters as part of its embrace of IoT.
From app ecosystems to silicon photonics
The Cisco event ranged over a wide swath of areas from software-defined networks to silicon photonics.
Execs promised the Cisco ONE initiative will provide a consistent set of APIs to access the company’s three major operating systems used in an estimated $180 billion in installed communications systems worldwide. That will enable “an app ecosystem for networking,” said Dave Ward, a vice president of engineering in Cisco’s emerging technology group.
Ward also said Cisco has sent to select customers line cards using the silicon photonics and optical processing technologies it acquired with Lightwire and CoreOptics. He called silicon photonics “absolutely, positively the most interesting thing in ASIC technology today.”
Separately, Stephan Monterde, a senior Cisco technical manager, said the company is talking to large partners such as U.K. carrier Orange about collaborating on assessments of new technologies. Monterde runs the Cisco Technology Radar program that drafts quarterly reports on dozens of emerging technologies for the company’s internal use.
In addition, Ishwar Parulkar, a chief technology officer in Cisco’s service provider group, described his work leading the first system design to emerge from the company’s Bangalore office. The ASR 901 is a low cost, low power backhaul switch for cellular networks now available worldwide.
“Globally relevant products will emerge from places like India and China because they will see some problems first,” he said.
Similarly, Aglaia Kong, chief technologist for Cisco China, described the CE300, Cisco’s design for a tablet-like classroom computer. It is one of many efforts responding to large China-government contracts in K-12 education. The Linux system supports wired and wireless nets for a third the cost and a fifth the energy of a PC, she claimed.
Cisco’s tele-presence video conferencing system, shown at the press event, is now available in a software-only version certified to work with a handful of digital medical devices.