Cisco's IoT ship sails ahead as former captain joins startup

Guido Jouret will head a Silicon Valley lab for Shanghai-based Envision Energy

Cisco Systems hinted at future plans for the Internet of Things on Wednesday even as its former IoT chief joined a Shanghai-based startup that plans to use sensors and big data for renewable energy.

In the next few months, Cisco will launch an application enablement platform to build new applications and adapt existing ones for the far-flung environment of IoT, said Mala Anand, senior vice president of the company's Services Platforms Group. It's a path to the highly distributed computing that will be a hallmark of IoT, with data being collected and processed in many locations, Anand said.

Cisco is aggressively investing in IoT because it plays perfectly into the company's experience and its relentless push to get customers to adopt end-to-end architectures. Earlier this year, the company laid out another $150 million to invest in startups over the next two to three years, with IoT among its targets. Cisco has already made minority investments in at least three IoT startups.

But the sprawling networking incumbent, celebrating its 25th annual user conference this year, is also in competition for brains and attention with those younger, fast-growing players.

On Tuesday, Shanghai-based Envision Energy announced that Guido Jouret, Cisco's recently departed IoT chief, would lead its Silicon Valley lab. Jouret had been at Cisco for 20 years and as vice president and general manager of the Internet of Things Group was an articulate spokesman for the company's IoT vision. Envision says its cloud-based operating systems for wind and solar energy manage more than 10,000 megawatts of power generation around the world. The company wants to incorporate cloud computing, advanced sensors and big-data analysis into energy management.

Software may be a bigger piece of the IoT puzzle than connectivity itself, a point Cisco itself readily acknowledges. Vendors are grappling with the hodgepodge of devices and applications that make up today's IoT and probably tomorrow's, too. With sensors, cameras, machinery, medical equipment and countless other objects gathering data, and various applications processing and analyzing that information, something will need to tie all those elements together. Even as Cisco was laying out its plans at Cisco Live in San Francisco, across town BlackBerry announced a cloud-based platform for developing back-end IoT applications, with the aim of saving effort for enterprises.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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