Cisco: Most IoT projects are failing due to lack of experience and security

Cisco CTO Kevin Bloch has revealed that 75 percent of all IoT projects are failing due to segmentation and a lack of experience by companies developing them, with Bloch also emphasising the importance of cybersecurity for IoT.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Three quarters of all Internet of Things (IoT) projects are "failing", according to Cisco's Australian CTO Kevin Bloch, primarily because they have been designed to solve individual problems, and have become siloed and unsupported as a result.

"The inaugural phase of IoT is characterised by numerous point solutions from a multitude of new -- often startup -- vendors. Typically, these solutions have been designed to solve a particular societal problem such as lighting or parking. In each case, a complete IT stack needs to be built in support of the solution," Bloch explained.

"Eventually, customers find themselves with multiple siloes from multiple vendors that don't interoperate, are not cybersecure, use different protocols, and generate more complexity at greater cost."

According to Bloch, this is why Cisco is constructing an "IoT Phase 2" foundation, which consists of a platform that is able to cope with multiple different sensors, vendors, applications, and data interchanges.

The CTO added that IoT projects are also failing due to a lack of cybersecurity, qualified skills by those running them, project definition, governance, and support.

Released alongside nine other axioms on the IoT landscape, Bloch said Cisco hopes to aid other companies in launching successful connected solutions by discussing both pitfalls and successes.

The lack of cybersecurity made up a second of his axioms, with Bloch saying that if something is not secured, it should not be connected.

"Cybersecurity crime is already at an all-time high and negatively impacting global economies by upwards of 1 percent of GDP," he said.

"We are becoming more mobile, we are using more cloud services, and we are expanding IoT deployment to tens of billions of connected things, thereby expanding exploitation and attack opportunities. Our situation will inevitably get worse if we don't take the right precautions.

"If you don't secure it, don't connect it."

Again, Bloch said that most of the new IoT solutions being brought to market are being developed by companies or startups without any experience -- including experience in security.

As a result, he said Cisco is continuing to invest billions of dollars into cybersecurity solutions for IoT, mobility, and cloud. One such product was Cisco's IoT Threat Defense solution launched in June in an effort to mitigate and solve common security issues threatening the deployment and operation of connected devices, with the networking giant at the time saying many vendors and companies strip security mechanisms out of devices in order to keep them at low cost.

Cisco IoT CTO Shaun Cooley in June explained that as many devices also don't have the power to protect themselves, network-side security must be emphasised, along with improving processors, enforcing the better labelling of devices, and requiring a notification and approval process prior to allowing connectivity.

The IoT Threat Defense suite is also enabled by Cisco's network intuitive, which combines the technologies Cisco has been working towards for the past few years: Software-defined networking, software-defined access, network function virtualisation, APIs, and intelligent WAN capabilities.

A third axiom saw Bloch argue that IoT is about collecting data and about the data itself -- not about connecting things, with Cisco predicting that connections will cost nothing within a decade.

Under this axiom, Bloch said there are two main components needed to be able to "measure" the physical world and enable automation: Sensing via a camera, sensor, or processor; and connectivity, or the transferring of data measurements to a computer.

"Sensing and connectivity provide data that enable a product to externalise its capabilities and provide a range of new opportunities and services," he explained.

Another of Bloch's IoT axioms argued that the key is having the right data, knowing what to ask of the data, and knowing how to find the answers -- with the CTO correlating this to another assumption: That by 2025, 40 percent of all data will never make it to the cloud.

"While amassing data may seem important, the critical question to ask is 'what do you need the data for?'" he said.

"Most organisations already have more data than they can manage, yet most often don't have the right data. If they did, would they know what to ask of the data? If they are able to formulate the problem, how would they go about finding the answers needed within the data?"

The key for organisations is finding the answers to those three questions by utilising a combination of compute, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, he argued.

Cisco has been focused on providing IoT solutions globally, in June announcing its Kinetic IoT operations platform with a focus on managing connections, "fog" computing, and the delivery of data, which "streamlines the capability of companies bringing their IoT initiatives to market".

"It's really a platform for getting data off of your devices," Cisco SVP and GM of IoT and Applications Rowan Trollope said at the time, adding that it will complement Cisco's Jasper IoT platform.

"We're extending from the edge all the way onto the device to provide an amazing platform to get way more data."

According to Trollope, trillions of terabytes of data is "locked up" on unconnected devices across the world, which Cisco Kinetic could help extract. It will also speed up the time between proof of concept and implementation for customers.

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