While important, security is often not the biggest issue facing Internet of Things devices in the enterprise, according to Dan Kent, CTO of public sector and SE Director at Cisco Systems. "In our space, what we also worry about is just the sheer volume of data. We must ensure that attack surfaces are controlled and policies are set up so that if somebody does take control of a sensor they can't pass malware or gain control of the system," said Kent.
As its IoT grows, Cisco is also expanding the services it offers on the platform, with an emphasis on software and analytics to help customers understand traffic flows and patterns in the underlying network, according to Kent.
In March, the company plans to roll out its "intuitive networking" system, which will offer encrypted traffic analytics for increased visibility for customers. Encrypted traffic analytics does not decrypt the traffic but rather looks at various components, such as packet data and telemetry, according to Kent.
Cisco remains the No. 1 player in the enterprise IT infrastructure space with a 26% market share. But the way enterprise clients consume technology from vendors is changing, and Cisco has spent the last few years adopting to a new market structure, especially in the IoT sphere.
"The network is an ubiquitous platform in the enterprise and it can be used to extract a lot of value for customers," said Kent.
The extra push into software and analytics holds potential for the company to make its mark in new territories. For now, the focus on "software from the analytics front" will be a natural progression as the company augments its existing IoT platform, offering customers more value that they won't need to turn to another company to get.
This is demonstrative of the fact that it is not enough for many vendors to simply offer a product or service anymore. Customers expect to run their systems and derive valuable insight from the platform they are using.
In terms of cybersecurity, Kent acknowledged that no system is perfect and companies will always have to work on patching flaws and addressing new threats. But widespread criticism of IoT device security may be overblown in the press.
IoT devices in the consumer market tend to run on applications that are made quickly and purely for functionality. For example, a sensor that tells a user when to water a plant does not have highly sensitive information, so a security protocol does not need to be programed in, according to Kent.
"The value of the data should directly reflect to how much security you have in your system," and businesses and governments working with sensitive data generally build stronger security systems upfront, said Kent.