5 Ways Cisco's Trusted IoT Alliance Will Use Blockchain To Make IoT More Secure -- And What It Means For Partners

New Trusted IoT Alliance

Cisco Tuesday unveiled the Trusted IoT Alliance, a consortium of companies including Bosch and Gemalto and others, that will look at how to develop a blockchain-enabled, trusted Internet of Things system. Blockchain technology is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network – meaning that participants can confirm transactions without the need for a central certifying authority.

The companies aim to work together to develop and set the standard for an open-source blockchain protocol that can support IoT technology in major industries, said Anoop Nannra, Trusted IoT Alliance board member and head of the blockchain initiative at Cisco.

"We've been looking at blockchain for a while now as a potential disrupter to a number of the spaces we serve, and we want to help partners understand the potential for the technology as it continues to grow in the coming years," Nannra told CRN.

Following are five ways the Trusted IoT Alliance will work to make blockchain-enabled IoT more secure.

Goals Of The Trusted IoT Alliance

The Trusted IoT Alliance will create open-source tools and standards that can support trusted identities of IoT-connected products – allowing enterprises to build out connected devices on a decentralized blockchain system and make their IoT applications more secure.

Overall, the alliance offers a membership model and annual events to connect Fortune 5000 enterprises, software developers and blockchain technology companies to advance IoT and blockchain by leading pilots, publishing open-source code, and coordinating standards and reference architecture.

According to Nannra, the group already has published a common API to register "things" to both Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum blockchain networks. The alliance plans to fund small grants to support open-source development and is reviewing proposals from IoT and blockchain technologists.

Different Members With Different Perspectives

The Trusted IoT Alliance includes "a number of innovators at the intersection of blockchain and IoT," said Nannra. These members come from both technology and financial backgrounds – including Bosch, Gemalto, ConsenSys, Ledger, Skuchain, Chain of Things and IOTA.

The alliance members all have different priorities and come from various vertical markets.

Market Focus

In the first three months, the alliance will break down the priories of its members by developing working groups that are vertically specific, and then identifying a number of common threads to establish the best practices for blockchain applications moving forward.

This includes looking at several vertical market focuses. The alliance already has approved a supply chain working group, as the broader team has agreed that supply chain is the second most lucrative blockchain IoT application after financial services, said Nannra.

"We'll look at how to facilitate and adopt the use cases, including asset tracking and tracing and supply chain risk management … there's a number of threads that can be created with the working group," said Nannra. "There will also be applications we'll look at in the energy, oil and gas spaces as well ... we're seeing a number of large energy producers take notice of blockchain as it enters the IoT space, and we're having a number of conversations with them."


A big part of the Trusted IoT Alliance is to be blockchain-agnostic, meaning that it will support integration across any open-source enterprise blockchain or distributed ledger technology platform that has the potential to become a back end for widespread commercial and industrial adoption, said Nannra.

"The alliance aims to foster interoperability and interworking across blockchain platforms, applications, and in doing so remove barriers to broad-scale adoption of blockchain technology," he said.

Channel Impact

Over the next few months, the alliance will focus not just on creating open-source tools, but also on educating its members' customers and partners.

"Broadly, this is not just a Cisco story. … If you look at the types of ecosystems that our members have in the alliance, many of our founding members rely on partners and ecosystems to facilitate and drive their business functions," said Nannra. "We need to get our partners up to speed and help them develop their skills in-house, even if it's just education. … We are starting to see a lot of interest with partners."

Partners have an opportunity to develop their own suite of applications and services to deliver IoT solutions into a much broader ecosystem with more value and to create new revenue models for themselves, said Nannra.