PETER WELCHER | Solutions Architect 

This blog post is part of a series discussing Cisco IoT, with this post focusing on Cisco’s IoT competition.  

Why IOT? First, it is an expanding area of networking, with increasing use cases. Secondly, it is impacting current organizations, especially healthcare and retailing, but touching anything where new forms of sensor may provide valuable security or cost-saving benefits, or enable new capabilities (better inventory, better products, etc.).  

Blog Series

Part 1: Background and Overview of Cisco IOT 

  • Introduction 
  • Perspective: What Skills Are Needed? Who Are the IOT Customers?  
  • Industrial Edge Computing 

Part 2: Cisco IOT Hardware 

  • Industrial Routers 
  • Industrial Switches 
  • Industrial Wireless 

Part 3: Other IOT Essentials 

  • Industrial Security 
  • Industry Use Cases 

Part 4: Finishing IOT Touches (THIS BLOG) 

  • Meraki IOT 
  • IOT Skillsets 
  • More IOT Links 

Part 5: The IOT Competition 

  • Juniper 
  • Aruba 
  • Arista 

Other Networking Vendors’ IOT 

In short, other vendors have less of an IOT focus than Cisco.  

Their common approach is providing some limited IOT support in their existing product line or extending that IOT support with selected additional hardware. One might say the same of Cisco’s IOT, except it is a lot more comprehensive!  

TL;DR: The other vendors apparently decided the easiest way to start offering some IOT capability is via hardened outdoor AP’s, possibly doubling via USB or other connectors as protocol translation gateways.  

 Juniper is the exception there, adding hardened routers.  

Juniper IOT 

Juniper is now competing in the Hardened Hardware space. Two recent resources I came acrossprovide a starting point:  

Juniper’s focus is different, namely “Cloud Metro.” Cloud Metro is about more general metropolitan area connectivity – more general than just office networking. Connect the offices, but also connect other things within the city or region. The offering appears similar to Cisco’s Connected Communities.  

Juniper has equipment supporting the construction of a secure metro network with hardened hardware and leveraging their AI/automation. It includes 5G wireless and passive optical (PON) transport. In skimming the Juniper documentation, I haven’t come across some of the industrial protocol support that Cisco offers – which does not necessarily mean it isn’t there, it’s just not very visible.  

I can personally confirm the Cloud Metro market exists, having worked at a high-level with a city using an Extreme network, and also with county-wide network. JNetworking city or county offices and other locations (fire, police, etc.) is a fairly daunting task. Then add water and sewage facilities and piping, etc. Top it off with roads, traffic controls, and other sensors.  

Getting fiber in the ground to support such a growing network is costly and takes time. Thus, I have seen and expect to see fiber for the core buildings, and other transports for the rest. Hello, cellular – in some cases (which I’ve got some upcoming blogs)! 

This all applies “mutatis mutandum” for a water provider (having worked with a large one). As speeds go up, core microwave gets costly. Expensive equipment and towers, closer together as speeds increase.  

Water providers typically have piping right of way, but burying fiber along those right of way paths would likely be costly and a slow process. Having said that, there’s an opportunity there: water or electrical rights of way could conceivably provide a city / county / region network backbone if done well and if the politics and funding support such a visionary approach.  

In terms of funding, perhaps the utility pulls extra fiber at low additional cost, and then provides services to other entities? Perhaps via a separate fiber company to keep the finances transparent? 

Aruba IOT 

After Cisco, Aruba seems to have the next largest amount of IOT/IIOT collateral and capabilities.  

Some starting points: 

Aruba uses its APs as protocol translation gateways or for IP connectivity for various IOT services, including BLE, ZigBee, and others.   

The only mention of “outdoor” I’m seeing is for hardened AP’s.  

Aruba does support DPP (Device Provisioning Protocol) for simple IOT provisioning:   

Arista IOT 

What I’ve been able to find is that Arista is touting the “interconnected IOT enabled campus,” mentioning support for POE appliances and IOT devices. I interpret that as being initially college and medical indoors IOT, but also indoors IOT across campuses and large buildings.  

For more info:  

The only mention of Arista “outdoor” I’m seeing is Access Points.  

Other Networking Vendors: Summary 

What I didn’t see across the non-Cisco vendors, other than Aruba, is mention of gatewaying IOT-specific protocols, some of the other special functionality, or sensors. That’s likely a sign of growing from their core functionality into new markets, but in a constrained way.  

My personal take is that hardened metro is useful for for vendors as an IOT strategy. One would hope that most specialized reporting protocols would fade away as IP becomes more broadly available for IOT access. Having said that, low power battery-based outdoor sensors and specialized use cases will clearly require LoRaWAN support. But that market may just be something most networking vendors don’t choose to invest in – too far from their core business.   

Time will tell.  


Non-Cisco network vendors have their “toe in the water” as far as IOT, Industrial, or Metro networks are concerned. That means that IOT or Metro markets potentially have an interesting amount of business for them, and they are starting with some investment in IOT offerings adjacent to their current platforms and customer bases.  

One overall observation is that Cisco has 10-100 times as much IOT and related collateral, a much bigger push into / presence within the IOT (etc.) space.  

This is the final blog in this five-blog IOT series. I have several more short IOT blogs drafted, each going in mild depth into one unique IOT technical aspect, e.g. specifically technologies and protocols such as LoRaWAN, URWG, BTLE, and Private 5G.  

I hope summarizing my explorations into Cisco’s (and others’) IOT (etc.) offerings, training, etc. has been useful for you. I enjoyed seeing how this all is evolving! There certainly seem to be a lot of personal and business opportunities lurking in the IOT spaces! 

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