Cisco's Internet Of Things Push: New IoT Solutions, Technology Partnerships

IoT Front And Center

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins (pictured) said he believes the Internet of Things in the digital age is the biggest opportunity in his company's history. Cisco is predicting the IoT marketplace will generate $19 trillion in opportunities by 2020.

To help harness the opportunities in that burgeoning space, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant revealed a handful of new solutions based around IoT as well as some strategic partnerships with some large operation technology players during Cisco's Global Editors Conference at its headquarters Monday.

Tony Shakib, vice president of Industry Solutions at Cisco, said the new IoT solutions give solution providers new markets to target as well as professional services to wrap around them. Training and certifications are also available for channel partners, he said.

"We develop these things in a way that we can also train our partners, and in the same way we go to our customers and sell to them, any one of our partners can do the same thing," said Shakib. "It's exciting, the opportunities for partners here."


The ISA-3000 security appliance is purpose-built for the industrial segment, containing Cisco's Adaptive Security Applicant (ASA) with FirePower software attained through its acquisition of Sourcefire.

"It supports many of the industrial protocols that are very specific to the [Operational Technology] environment," said Shakib.

The ruggedized appliance was built to handle rough environments and fits into many of the new IoT architectures Cisco launched Monday for security, manufacturing, utilities and transportation.

IoT System Security

Cisco's IoT System Security product portfolio is designed to deliver secure connectivity, visibility and control across all verticals. Customers can use the system along with professional services from partners to mitigate the risk of system disruption, according to Cisco.

Shakib said the system is a platform to build IoT solutions on, compared with ’random products’ that work together.

The platform includes IoT-specific security with the ISA-3000 for application visibility, policy enforcement and threat protection as well as a Fog Data Services security solution. Shakib said it also provides solutions for IoT physical security with video surveillance cameras, physical access control, and a video surveillance manager with advanced security analytics.

Connected Machines For Manufacturing

Connected Machines for manufacturing is a connected architecture that "redefines" secure, efficient and visible operations, according to Shakib (pictured). He said the solution enables OEM digitization and new business models such as highly secure remote access, monitoring and serviceability of machines.

"We're moving beyond the factory walls," said Shakib. "We are now taking data up into the control layer and into the network operation center on a global basis. Now we are enabling our OEMs to be able to run their machines as a service."

Cisco Partners With Fanuc America

As part of the Connected Machines for manufacturing initiative, Cisco announced a new partnership with robotics company Fanuc America, through which Cisco intends to enable robot connectivity and analytics for proactive maintenance. The goal is to watch all of Fanuc's 300,000 robots on the factory floor to predict if or when a robot will have an issue.

A pilot test with about 1,800 robots is underway. According to Andy Denny, vice president of Robot Operations at Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Fanuc, the test has already saved Fanuc's customers $38 million.

"This is definitely a game changer," Denny said.

Connected Mass Transit For Transportation

The Connected Mass Transit for transportation is a connected architecture that enables greater safety, mobility and a better experience for passengers on various transportation systems such as in buses and railroads.

Based on the Cisco IoT System, the transit systems can enhance automation, collaboration, video, cloud-to-fog agility and business intelligence. The solution can look into the status of an engine on a bus, see how many passengers are aboard and check on whether the driver is on time.

"The solution is bringing the network, the onboard compute capability, [the] security engrained into it, the [Unified Computing System] and all the partners' software that we work with to integrate, to make it easy and seamless to deploy these capabilities," said Shakib.

Smart Connected Pipeline For Oil And Gas

Cisco says its Smart Connected Pipeline architecture for the oil and gas industry gives companies more control that can help prevent accidents or cyberattacks.

"There's hundreds of millions of miles of pipelines in [difficult] places around the world -- what happens when there's a leakage? These are catastrophic, and to avoid these leakages you need millions of sensors," said Shakib. "By putting in these intelligence sensors you can detect it instantly. … The economic value of this thing is huge, because when these disasters happen. the fines are in the billions of dollars. You can have a lot of these smart cameras and save a lot of money on an annual basis."

Cisco Partners With Schneider Electric

As part of its Smart Connected Pipeline solution, Cisco has teamed up with Schneider Electric to collaborate to bring the architecture to market and has been working with customers such as ENI, a multinational oil and gas company based in Italy. Schneider is an electricity distributor and global energy management company based in France.

"Continuing to invest in these types of strategic technology partnerships is a must for Cisco," said John Rohde, director of corporate business development, enterprise vertical markets and IoT for World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner. "As Cisco continues to build and invest in relationships and product development with companies like Apple, Rockwell, GE, … it reinforces their strength and reputation across the technology landscape, which is more and more frequently powering and enabling our customers' business outcomes."

Substation Security Digital Solution

Cisco's Substation Security for utilities is a connected architecture that enables highly secure power grids for reliable, more efficient service across the utilities segment, according to Shakib.

Cisco said South Carolina's utility company, SCANA, will be the first to deploy the solution, which is designed to enable utilities to comply with North America's newest regulation: the North America Electric Reliability Corp. Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC-CIP) Version 5.

"From NERC-CIP to [health-privacy regulation] HIPAA, companies across every industry struggle with understanding and abiding [by] security and compliance mandates," said Rohde. Rohde said Cisco plays a critical part in making sure customers keep up with the "ever-growing" compliances and mandates across the network.