Cisco To Partners: It's Time To Monetize The Internet Of Everything

Cisco for months has been touting the Internet of Everything (IoE) as a major opportunity for both itself and its partners. But what hasn't been entirely clear is how partners will monetize that opportunity -- until now.

The vendor Wednesday at its Cisco Partner Summit 2014 in Las Vegas walked through a number ways its partners can stop just talking about IoE, and start selling Cisco products and services to support it.

"In the next seven years, we are going to see a total of 50 billion connected devices, and the vast majority of those will not be laptops, smartphones and tablets," said Guido Jouret, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Internet of Things (IoT) business group. "The vast majority of things that will be connected will be cars, buses, solar panels, motors, robots, pumps -- all of these different devices will start being connected, and there will be an incredible buildout of connectivity that will be required."

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According to Cisco, IoE -- the phenomenon by which sensors and everyday objects like cars and street lamps share data with each other and the people around them via the Web -- represents a massive $19 trillion opportunity between the public and private sectors combined. More immediately, Cisco said the trend will represent a total addressable market of $27 billion for both itself and its partners by 2016.

To help partners take IoE from a vision to a reality -- and to nab a piece of that $27 billion pie -- Cisco Wednesday walked through a number of Cisco IoE products and services that partners can start selling today.

At the forefront of those products is a new line of industrialized switches, routers and wireless access points. These devices, Cisco said, are designed to enable secure machine-to-machine connections -- one of the core types of technologies enabling IoE -- within industrial environments. Among these industrialized products are the Cisco Industrial Ethernet 2000 and 3000 series switches, the Cisco 819 Integrated Services Router and the Cisco Aironet 1550 series access point.

Cisco also said its line of embedded networking solutions, such as its embedded services routers, can help partners get on board with the IoE trend. Designed to withstand harsh environments and extreme temperatures, these embedded devices, Cisco said, are ideal for vertical markets like manufacturing and mining, expected to be some of the earlier adopters of Internet of Everything technologies.

Jouret said all of Cisco's industrialized routers, within the next 12 months, will be armed with a new technology called distributed or "fog" computing. Delivered through a platform called IOx (the combination of Cisco's IOS operating system and Linux), fog computing drives distributed computing capabilities to the edge of the network, Jouret said. Cisco's multicore devices will run IOS on one core and Linux on a second, arming edge devices like routers and IP cameras with applications that let them manage and process data themselves, rather than have to push that data back over the network and into the cloud.

"This allows our partners to embed applications onto these devices and create additional value-add," Jouret said.

Cisco is also positioning its new Solution Partner Program as a way for partners to cash in on the Internet of Everything trend. Introduced this week, the program will host Cisco ISV and technology partners, including those creating new vertical applications for the Internet of Everything. Cisco said solution providers will have access to these applications through itsonline Marketplace.

In total, Cisco said it has 700 IoE-focused products in-house today.

NEXT: Acrodex 'Mines' New IoE Business

Jouret hosted a partner panel Wednesday with Cisco solution providers and technology partners who already have customer wins in the IoE space. These partners included Alberta, Canada-based solution provider Acrodex, who recently worked on an IoE implementation with mining company Dundee Precious Metals.

Yasmin Jivraj, president of Acrodex, said her company helped Dundee Precious Metals implement sensor technologies to drive safer environments in the mines. Acrodex, for example, helped implement sensors into employee work boots that let Dundee Precious Metals ensure every worker has left a mine before underground blasting takes place. Acrodex's implementation also helps Dundee Precious Metals remotely monitor gas levels within the mines to make sure conditions are safe for workers.

"The opportunities are endless," Jivraj said.

Other Cisco partners told CRN they expect to see IoE reach an inflection point this year.

"We are already having these kinds of dialogues with our customers, especially within verticals," said Waheed Choudhry, president and chief operating offer of Nexus IS, a Valencia, Calif.-based Cisco Gold partner. "We are really big in health care and retail, and in those markets, specifically, there is so much information that our customers are trying to take advantage of. So
Internet of Everything discussions are happening now and we expect to see real opportunities this year and into the coming years."

Some partners, and especially those targeting the SMB and midmarket, still expect it will take some time for IoE opportunities to move downstream.

"I think there are opportunities today. But I think that, for us, where we are mostly target into midmarket, commercial and select accounts, that it's going to take some time for these concepts to come down market," said Leo Galletta, president and CEO of Converged Technology Group, a New York-based Cisco Gold partner. "I think it's a little bit far-reaching, but I do see an accelerated rate of connected devices and that always creates new complexities and challenges."