Cisco's "fog computing" move to support IoT development

US internet-technology giant Cisco has taken the wraps of a new platform aimed at helping companies to better manage the data being generated by so-called Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Branded IOx, the platform allows applications to run directly at the edge of the network, says Cisco (San Jose, CA, USA), and will allow companies across a variety of sectors to develop, manage and run software applications directly on Cisco devices, including its routers and switches as well as IP video cameras.

The company reckons the process of managing data generated by IoT services will be far easier if applications are “closer to where actionable data is generated”.

Cisco gave a demonstration of the technology at the recent DistribuTECH smart-grid event being hosted in San Antonio, Texas, arguing there is a growing need for distributed computing in IoT for smart-grid management.

The company said its IOx platform could be used to support smart energy distribution, allowing network-edge devices to automatically switch to alternative energy sources based on demand, availability and pricing.

Another role could be to make traffic lights smarter – for instance, by setting up a vide camera that can detect an ambulance’s flashing lights and automatically make changes to allow the vehicle to pass through traffic.

Smarter streetlights could also lead to energy savings through the use of intelligent lighting, which would only switch on once a sensor identifies movement, turning off again after traffic has passed.

Cisco has coined a new term – “fog computing” – to describe its move to connect internet technology to the IoT.

It says the open application environment will encourage more developers to bring their own applications and connectivity interfaces at the edge of the network, helping to advance the deployment of IoT applications across industries including utilities, manufacturing and transportation.

Cisco has promised that IOx capabilities will initially be made available in Cisco industrial routers this spring, and says it is working with “industry leaders” to develop IOx-based solutions.

The platform has already received plaudits from a number of leading players in the smart-energy area, including smart-metering specialist Itron (Liberty Lake, WA, USA).

“Itron has been actively integrating IOx into our smart energy and water solutions, and we are excited about the possibilities it offers, including distributed analytics, real-time monitoring and dynamic control in the network itself,” said Jeff Carkhuff, the vice president of global product management for Itron.