Ken Owens, CTO, Cisco Cloud Platforms and Services

Q&A: Ken Owens, CTO, Cisco Cloud Platforms and Services

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ken Owens the CTO for Cisco’s Cloud Platforms and Service group and a member of the Xively IoT Advisory Board.  In the course of his 20+ year career, Ken has been on the forefront of many technology trends facing enterprise IT.  With the IoT being one of the biggest to date, we wanted to use this opportunity to pick his brain on how the IoT is transforming his business, the opportunities it presents for the market as a whole.

How do you see the IoT transforming your business?

At Cisco we are doing a lot of exploration when it comes to the IoT and how we can best fit into the overall ecosystem.  The top area for us – not surprisingly — is in networking.  Understanding how to properly network IoT devices as well as providing the bandwidth that is needed for the communication and control is an essential part of making the IoT a reality.

What opportunities will open up?

The opportunities the IoT opens up are truly endless.  Of all the things we are exploring at Cisco, most interesting (at least in my opinion) is in the drone space and how they can help in everyday lives.  Take first responders, for example.  Drones can provide a level of observation police, paramedics or firefighters could never get on their own.  They can also record and monitor information that can be pertinent to the situation — heat and air quality for firefighters, for example.  Having this new vantage point and information could quite possibly save lives by helping emergency workers understand exactly what they are getting into and how best (and securely) approach it.

Now onto the opportunity part.  Regardless of the use case, the most important aspect of any IoT implementation is being able to manage the data it collects.  Whether we are talking about drones or a smart lighting system, there is a huge opportunity in the data management, monitoring and analytics space.  IoT devices can capture a ton of information so solutions that can take this sensor data and propagate it in a meaningful manner will be essential to the IoT reaching its full potential.

What do you see as challenges for companies that are looking to connect products?

One of the biggest challenges I see for companies (outside of the technical aspect of how to get a product connected), is how to differentiate in an already crowded marketplace. A solid partner strategy is really important – for everything from building the solution (if you don’t have the expertise in-house) to integration with complimentary technologies all the way to selling your product.  Look at the opportunities in this space today and think to the future as well.  The products that will have staying power are the ones that will be able to support shifts in the landscape – whether that be through augmented reality, automation, or any number of other factors.  Build not just for today, but for that next iteration as well.

How do you see Xively playing a part of the IoT ecosystem?

With Xively, LogMeIn definitely has one of the better solutions in the connected product management space.  It is a great platform to help companies not only connect their products, but also manage that all important data aspect.  They already have great traction with some of the early IoT adopters and I am really excited to see where their IoT strategy will take them in the future.


Ken Owens is Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Cloud Platforms and Service at Cisco Systems. Ken is responsible for creating and communicating technical/scientific vision and strategy for Cloud Platforms and Service business. He brings a compelling view of technology trends in enterprise IT (e.g., infrastructure, computing, SaaS, virtualization, and cloud) and evangelizes the technology roadmap for the business. 

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