White Papers

Thoughts on D. Evans Paper: How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything

I thought this was an interesting read for IoT considering this was before a big hype about it. The author of the article, Dave Evans, was Cisco’s “Chief Futurist” which was a job that scouts and researches the future of technology. He was very good at his job with one of his predictions being that World Wide Web (WWW) would be huge back when only nerds, military, and businesses used it.

Anyways, the goal of Evan’s document is to educate the reader on what IoT is and its potential to change the world. The document is laid out to discuss how IoT status today, the path IoT is taking, and associated risks with IoT. Evans mentions that there are a lot of obstacles with IoT that have slowed its progression with one being the transitioning to IPv6, having a common set of communication standards between sensors, and developing energy sources (batteries) needed for small sensors [pg. 2].

Cisco defines IoT as the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the internet than people. I like that definition because most definitions of IoT were explanations for an infrastructure that had existed for many years. For example, phones and computers are an IoT product, but computers existed connected to the internet before IoT was termed (I don’t know if phones had internet connectivity before IoT was termed).

Evans describes the IoT situation similar to what the technology industry experienced in early networking days. Right now similar to the 1980s, there were a lot of different devices that used the same hardware/technology for communicating, but each device had different protocols for how that data should be communicated. Cisco became what it did today by creating a protocol that tied all these different but popular communication protocols into a single protocol to route information.

For example, let’s say we have a construction site filled with a bunch of diverse individuals. They all have mouths and ears that give them the ability to have a conversation between each other. However, Jose and Angel only understand Spanish; John, Jacob, and Jimmy only understand English; and Hans, Hansel, and Anoop only understand German. Due to inability to interpret one another each team starts building what they know best: the Spanish team starts building a boat, the English team start building a house, and the German team start building a car. Now, a trusted, mutual friend of everyone named Cisco shows up that has been studying on how to speak Spanish, English, and French, and is kind enough to translate for everyone (for a fee). Now, that everyone is understands one another, they realize that they are actually are supposed to be building a motorized house-boat.

The above example parallels IoT where I may have my Bluetooth window, my WiFi air conditioner, and my ZigBee thermometer all connected to the internet. Each one uses the same hardware and method of communication, but have different ways of interpreting the data communicated. It isn’t until there is a translator or router there before devices can truly live up to being interconnected efficiently.

[1] D. Evans The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything. [Online White Paper] Available from: http://postscapes.com/cisco-internet-of-things-white-paper-how-the-next-evolution-of-the-internet-is-changing-everything%20 , April 2011.