By 2020, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) expects up to 50 billion connected devices to be in play, signaling a critical mass in achieving the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT)[1].

There are three main IoT characteristics that require immediate attention before the promise and not the threat of IoT can be realized:

  1. Security – in many ways the adoption and rollout of IoT significantly increases business/consumer vulnerabilities by extending the internet to all aspects of business operations and consumer life, i.e., trucking, refrigerators, power, light, transportation, etc.
  2. Scalability – as presented above, the ability to handle the unimaginable scale of devices will be a continuous challenge going forward. In other words, performance has to be maintained at all levels as IoT is adopted and consumer reliance increases.
  3. Standards and Expertise – In another Cisco report distributed at Cisco’s IoT World Forum in London, IoT business projects are at risk, with only 26% being reported as being successful[2].

In the past, I have been critical of Cisco’s inability to offer components that address the significant flaws in IoT infrastructure. However, at face value, Cisco offers a portfolio of products that directly addresses many security and scalability concerns.

Cisco’s IoT Threat Defense security portfolio includes:

  • Network segmentation (Cisco TrustSec)
  • Network behavior analytics (Cisco Stealthwatch)
  • Device visibility (Cisco ISE)
  • Remote access (Cisco AnyConnect)
  • Cloud security (Cisco Umbrella)
  • Malware protection (Cisco AMP)
  • Firewall (Cisco Firepower NGFW)

As far as standards and expertise go, there are numerous bodies that claim to be developing or influencing IoT standards. Some of these are, Industrial Internet Consortium, Thread, IPSO Alliance, AllSeen Alliance, IIC, oneM2M, FiWare and Open Connectivity Foundation. Note that Cisco is a member or founder of most of these organizations.

The reality is that there is a lot of smoke, but no fire. In other words, no prevalent, industry or consumer standards have been published and adopted across the board. Lacking those, many high-tech firms are moving forward with their own set of standards, further confusing and segmenting the industry.

This WILL have a negative impact overall and make it difficult to fully integrate the many independently developed elements of IoT.

Looks like I am coming back to my original perspective, someone has to take charge of setting definitive standards. I vote for Cisco. They “invented” the idea. They are privy to the ideas, use cases, across the industry.

[1] Cisco Intros IoT Threat Defense, http://www.lightreading.com/iot/iot-strategies/cisco-intros-iot-threat-defense/d/d-id/733077

[2] Three-quarters of internet of things projects are at risk of failure , http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450419347/Three-quarters-of-internet-of-things-projects-are-at-risk-of-failure