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May 14, 2014

Cisco’s IoT “might struggle” after Jouret departure

Analysts give CBR their take on Cisco's IoT strategy post-Jouret.

By Joe Curtis

Cisco acted fast after Internet of Things director Guido Jouret’s resignation. It put Rob Soderbery, its enterprise networking expert, in charge and put a statement saying everything was in hand.

How it might Cisco’s ambition to become the lead on the Internet of Everything be affected? .

Analysts from Gartner, CIC and Quocirca and Gartner give their views.


Tim Zimmerman, Gartner analyst

What’s Cisco going to do, will it stick with it’s strategy or adapt it now with a different person in charge?

Cisco is saying what kinds of tools can we provide to make sure IoT data gets the right treatment. There will be security concerns and historically such tools don’t have the processing capability necessary even for smartphone [data]. This is one area Cisco will focus on. Also it will want to help prioritise data and understand data can be mission critical that needs to get priority or maybe isn’t useful and doesn’t need urgent processing.

How will rivals view the news?

Cisco will continue to see small vendors trying to be nimble to address the opportunity to beat Cisco to it. They won’t have the clout or presence of Cisco.

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What do you expect to see from Cisco in the IoT space?

It will be continuity but the new vision will be adding their own flavour to [the Jouret-era] strategy. I would expect IoT communications tools to expand a little more. They are in the process of having a richer strategy and this will develop over time.

Bolo Rotibi, CIC

How could Guido’s departure affect Cisco’s IoT strategy?

Cisco is still continuing to invest in its IoT department as it does see significant revenue potential from the technology in the future. Also there has been a lot of announcements of investments from the likes of Microsoft and others and we have seen many of the automotive companies focusing heavily on initiatives like the connected car with early examples of useful applications.

The problem is that there is, as usual, a lot of hype and completely farfetched stories as to what might be IP enabled and what this will then enable (some of the examples being touted are beyond a joke, whilst others are very carefully thought out applications delivering real value that I could see working).

The fact that Guido Jouret has been there for ten years could suggest that either he or Cisco might feel there needs to be a change of strategy at the helm, but this is pure speculation. There might be something more political to his departure but we are unlikely to understand this fully until sometime down the line. To get a sense of the underlying reasons for Guido’s departure one will need to see how Cisco’s IoT strategy changes over the course of the next few months.

How far along the IoT road is Cisco in terms of application development and understanding?

A lot of work still needs to be done to realise the potential around IoT not least the requirement for standards for interoperability, a focus on security, network bandwidth and operator costs etc. So it will require the coming together of the network vendors, the phone operators, the equipment manufacturers and software vendors etc. The creation of the Industrial Internet Consortium, which features IBM, GE, AT&T and Intel amongst others suggest that there is widespread recognition for these requirements and the general need for greater collaboration at many levels.

In my opinion significant revenue benefits are still some way off and a lot of work still needs to be done.

Clive Longbottom – Quocirca

Is there any indication about what might be the reason for Jouret’s sudden resignation?

Cisco can be a hot house in the way everything is driven from on high. That’s slightly telling when you consider who’s been put in charge of IoT now (Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery, who oversees Cisco’s enterprise networking and IoT groups). The announcement that Jouret’s gone off to look at other options to pursue can be read as an MP wants to spend more time with his family or it could be that the company is being good and he wants to move on. He seems to be a guy who really does understand IoT so he will be someone everyone wants to have on board.

What do you make of Soderbery’s appointment? How much expertise can he have in the IoT?

I worry there’s a lot of difference between servers and enterprise stuff and millions of devices we have to watch as they become connected. They will be very chatty in the way they deal with data [the devices]. Cisco will need to aggregate it all and analyse it all. It’s a different thought process to that of your typical enterprise networking guy. We will have to see if he’s up to it. Cisco has got to figure this out rapidly. We’ll have to see if he’s able to transfer his skills to think lots and small rather than few and big.

Cisco might struggle to get Soderbery’s mindset rapidly like Jouret’s. These are big logic guys dealing with highly intelligent systems. Now they will be dealing with dumb systems.

What will Cisco’s priorities be now they’ve lost someone with great understanding of the IoT?

Hopefully they have brought on engineers who know the right ways for the dumb devices to talk to semi-intelligent devices, and for them to talk to intelligent devices. In that case, Soderbery is someone who can sit at the top and look at the catalyst switch and let engineers deal with the dumb devices. It will put Cisco back a couple of steps at least. They can’t afford to be a follower on IoT. The other major companies will be sitting there thinking ‘the jury’s out’.

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