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5:32 pm
January 29, 2014
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New Platform For Linking Manufacturing and Internet of Things

I talked yesterday with Guido Jouret, general manager of Internet of Things Business Group, at Cisco about a new product/platform that combines networking and computation bringing new capabilities to the support of the Internet of Things.

“Cisco is very excited to accelerate innovation in the Internet of Things by delivering IOx, which provides the ability to combine computation and communication on our ruggedized routers and other devices. We believe that this turns the network into the fourth platform for computing (in addition to PCs, mobile and cloud), which will unleash new applications in manufacturing, transportation, smart cities and many other industries”.

He was keen to emphasize the possibility of the platform to unleash new innovations relating to the entire burgeoning Internet of Things trend. This, of course, has great potential for manufacturing. Therefore it is not surprising that companies such as Rockwell Automation and OSIsoft figured prominently into our conversation.

IOx = IOS (Cisco library for networking) + Linux (computing)

This platform reflects the continuing development of embedded computing power tied to easier networking. Routers are essentially multi-core computers now, so adding Linux to a core is not an exotic undertaking.

Cisco is looking for first applications with Rockwell Automation sensor networks and then with its 819 product to be used on fleet applications.

Since we live in a “App” world, Cisco is developing an App Store for factory-oriented apps and an App manager so that users can see which apps are running on which router and update them as appropriate. It is also releasing an IOx SDK.

Following are notes from the official press release.

“This week, Cisco continued delivering on its vision for fog computing, transforming the network edge into a distributed computing infrastructure for applications that take advantage of the billions of devices already connected in the Internet of Things (IoT). With the new Cisco IOx capability, customers from all segments and solution providers across industries will be able to develop, manage and run software applications directly on Cisco industrial networked-devices, including hardened routers, switches and IP video cameras. With applications closer to where actionable data is generated, customers can more easily manage the massive amount of data that is projected to come out of people, processes and things in the Internet of Everything (IoE) – and derive more value from their existing networks. Companies will be able to become more innovative, agile and efficient in their operations as a result.”

At the leading smart grid event, DistribuTECH, Cisco hosted a discussion with industry leaders on the growing need for distributed computing in IoT for managing the smart grid, adding greater automation in process industries and more efficiency in the public sector.

Key Highlights:

Cisco conservatively estimates that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. These devices are creating a tidal wave of data that is expensive to move to existing cloud environments for analysis and conversion to useful content.

To better monitor, manage and respond to the massive amount of data generated by IoT, IOx allows applications to run as close as possible to the data source and create automated responses that drive value. For example:

  • Smart Energy Distribution: Energy load balancing applications running on network edge devices that automatically switch to alternative energies like solar and wind– based on energy demand, availability and the lowest price.
  • Smarter Traffic Lights: As a video camera senses an ambulance flashing lights, it can automatically change streetlights to open lanes for the vehicle to pass through traffic.
  • Smart streetlights can help achieve energy savings with intelligent lighting, which only turns on once a sensor identifies movement and switches off as traffic passes.
  • Self-Maintaining Trains: Sensor monitoring on a train’s ball-bearing can detect heat levels, allowing applications to send an automatic alert to the train operator to stop the
    train at next station for emergency maintenance and avoid potential derailment.
  • Lifesaving Air Vents: Sensors on vents monitor air conditions flowing in and out of mines and automatically change air-flow if conditions become dangerous to miners.

Some further highlights:

The open application environment encourages more developers to bring their own applications (BYOA) and connectivity interfaces (BYOI) at the edge of the network and help advance the deployment of IoE across different industries such as utilities, manufacturing and transportation.

Cisco IOx capabilities will initially be available in Cisco industrial routers this spring. Cisco is working with industry leaders to collaborate and develop IOx-based solutions that will ease the deployment and support of the billions of connected devices in IoT.

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