IoT Development Platform: Cisco Jasper IoT

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The Jasper logo
Figure 1: The Jasper logo

Up until March of 2016, Jasper Technologies was a 12 year old US-based corporation whose main offering was a Cloud-based software platform for the Internet of Things (IoT). Then, Cisco bought Jasper for $1.4 billion as the foundation of their own IoT Cloud business whereby Jasper would become the IoT Cloud Business Unit. Cisco was keen on acquiring the Jasper Control Center Platform—a Cloud-based solution for enterprises to launch, manage, and monetize an IoT deployment using a single turnkey solution. The goal was to help businesses overcome the obstacles that prevent about sixty percent of IoT initiatives from progressing past the proof of concept stage.

The new Control Center 7.0 is a multi-tier IoT management platform that provides businesses with greater flexibility, as well as advanced security, automation, and analytics. It also includes two new customizable Premium Services that address Threat Protection and Smart Security. These provide IoT-specific malware and cyber security protection based on Cisco Umbrella threat protection.

Since then, Cisco unveiled their Kinetic IoT operations platform. It encompasses connection management, fog computing, and data delivery for all types of connected things. It leverages some Jasper technology to extend the range of wired and wireless devices types. Kinetic is still quite new, so we will focus on Jasper today, but it is not unfeasible that Kinetic may eventually outgrow Jasper.

A number of IoT Platforms made the Codeguru list of Top IoT platforms, including the Cisco Jasper IoT Platform. In evaluating Cisco Jasper, the structure recommended in "Developer's Guide to Evaluating IoT Platforms" was used. This will make it easier for you to compare various IoT platforms.

The SP IoT Reference Framework
Figure 2: The SP IoT Reference Framework

Key Features

IoT Boards Support

IoT development all starts with IoT Starter Kits. Cisco provides these based on the network service provider you select, and include:

  • Trial SIM cards, SMS, and data for your test devices
  • Full access to Control Center for your evaluation team, including the complete suite of developer tools and APIs to build and test your IoT services

One of the most popular is the AT&T starter kit, shown in Figure 3.

The AT&T starter kit
Figure 3: The AT&T starter kit

It's the only IoT Starter Kit in the market that offers an end-to-end developer solution, including LTE-enabled hardware and connectivity, Control Center as the leading connectivity management platform, application enablement, as well as out-of-the-box integration with leading Cloud platforms. You can vet out your concept and have a working proof of concept within mere hours.

Your chosen network service provider will ship your SIMs and provide you with access to Control Center.

After installing the SIMs in your devices, you can use automation rules and APIs to connect to your network and applications.

IoT OS Support

Cisco Jasper supports all of the major operating systems, and even some that are slightly less ubiquitous. Here's a sampling of supported operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 x86 SP2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 x86 SP2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 x64 SP2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 x64 SP2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 x64 SP1w/Hyper-V
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.8 64bit
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 64bit
  • Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 1164bit
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux release 4 64bit
  • Oracle VM serverrelease 2.1.5 64bit
  • VMware ESX 3.5 Update 4
  • VMware vSphere 4
  • VMware vSphere 4i

Don't forget to verify that the Operating System you want to run is supported on your UCS hardware.

You can check this via the Hardware and Software Interoperability Matrix, which contains a list of supported Operating Systems.

Key Sensor Support

AT&T's IoT Starter Kit, offered in partnership with Cisco-Jasper, can be configured for an endless variety of sensors. The application project uses constants to define the supported sensor configurations; you can see the constants in the code sample below:

// Specify here how many sensor parameters you want reported
// to FLOW.
// You can use only the temperature and humidity from the shield
// HTS221, or you can add the reading of the FXO8700CQ motion
// sensor on the FRDM-K64F board, or if you have a SiLabs PMOD
// plugged in to the shield, you can add its proximity sensor,
// UV light, visible ambient light, and infrared ambient
// light readings.
// If you run the Windows "Sensor Simulator" utility, 8 additional
// virtual sensors can also be made available via USB.

#define TEMP_HUMIDITY_ONLY                                       1
#define TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER                              2
#define TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER_GPS                          3
#define TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER_PMODSENSORS                  4
#define TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER_PMODSENSORS_VIRTUALSENSORS   5

The value for iSensorsToReport tells the application which collection of sensors to read values from:

static int iSensorsToReport = TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER;

As you can see from the example code, by default the application is configured to measure temperature, humidity, and accelerometer values. If you wanted to add a GPS module to the project, you would change the value assigned to iSensorsToReport to TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER_GPS so location data would be measured instead. With this change, the iSensorsToReport assignment would become:

static int iSensorsToReport = TEMP_HUMIDITY_ACCELEROMETER_GPS;

You then would need to compile the application and deploy the updated binary to your FRDM-K64F board, using the instructions in the Starter Kit tutorial. At this point, the board would start reading values from the PMOD sensor and sending them to AT&T M2X through AT&T Flow.

IoT Data Considerations

Cisco's IoT Platform data management, which is part of the Application Enablement layer, consists of:

  • Data Storage
  • Data Management
  • Data Virtualization
  • Data Analytics

Each of these components would require their own article to each get a fair coverage; it is worth noting that Cisco has recently reversed their previous client-server side architecture that many data centers were using, in favor of new Data Center vision, known as 3.0. The move comes in response to the rising costs and complex network management issues that arose with these distributed networks.

The 3.0 Data Center features the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series. It uses the Cisco Nexus Operating System (NX-OS) to help IT managers better consolidate the disparate software systems running their networks. The platform can currently transfer 15 terabits per second, which means users could download the entire Netflix library in roughly one minute, with a scalable architecture that could allow even greater delivery rates.

The platform uses the recently deployed Cisco Trusted Security architecture, which allows network managers to segment traffic through virtualized environments.

IoT Security Considerations

Securing an IoT business is a multi-dimensional challenge. Although connecting devices to applications in the Cloud makes them smarter and capable of delivering additional services, it also makes them vulnerable to breaches in security from that very same Cloud infrastructure. That's why it's critically important to have robust security at the cloud and application levels—even a small crack can lead to catastrophic repercussions across a company's entire IoT deployment.

Cisco Jasper espouses a holistic approach in safeguarding both your IoT applications and Cloud infrastructure; it's one that incorporates the best of traditional IT security along with even more sophisticated measures. Even though there are many factors to Cisco's security infrastructure, here are two key areas:

  • Information security: To protect your organization and Cloud infrastructure, Cisco utilizes both digital and non-digital security practices. Adhering to standards such as ISO/IEC 27001, it provides a critical part their overall strategy for ensuring information security in both IT and non-IT realms.
  • Application-level security: In addition to securing the overall environment, Cisco provides more granular performance with controls for the IoT applications themselves.

Development and Deployment Considerations

Launched in February 2014, the Jasper Global SIM software developer kit enables enterprises to deploy M2M devices internationally. The SIM software gives enterprises the ability to manage a single embedded SIM by remotely provisioning and managing mobile operator profiles and policies for that SIM anywhere in the world. This meets the demand for more efficient and cost-effective global deployment models and enables rapid international distribution and device activation. Connected devices can be transferred seamlessly from one operator to another to take advantage of local operator support, comply with international roaming restrictions, and address cost constraints.

Moreover, Jasper Global SIM provides the ability to change SIM profiles on-demand or based on pre-defined rules and triggering events, with reporting and audit controls, automated assignment to proper policies, rate plans, and service conditions, with fully managed billing and contractual term compliance.

Developers can build, deploy, and monitor applications at the network edge with Cisco IOx and Cisco Fog Director.

IOx enables hosting of applications and services. These applications can transform IoT sensor data and perform control functions within the network.

Fog Director provides centralized management services to manage all life cycle aspects of applications and services on thousands of fog nodes enabling operations at scale.

Cost and Licensing of IoT Platforms and Solutions

Cisco IOx and Fog Director are licensed on a per-device, term subscription basis.

  • IOx and Fog Director are available as part of the single PID.
  • License for IOx and Fog Director can be ordered with a subscription term of 1, 3, or 5 years.
  • Subscription term includes software upgrades and support.
  • Customers can choose a subscription-billing model of either a monthly payment for the duration of the term or prepaid for the whole term.
  • Begin with the following top level PID: IOX-SOFTWARE.
  • Then, you can configure the IOX CORE OPTION with the appropriate platform-specific PIDs and subscription term.

Cisco Jasper does not provide any additional pricing information and public pricing information is unavailable, so your best bet is to contact Cisco Jasper to obtain current pricing.

Cisco Jasper

Company: Cisco Systems, Inc.

Key Features

  • Real-time diagnostics
  • Security
  • Information and entertainment services
  • Control Center 7.0 will have reliability dashboards as well as usage monitoring tools. With IoT deployments, there are hardware, software, and maintenance costs, but connectivity charges are a key line item to monitor.
  • Premium services, such as a threat detection and security service that is built on Cisco's Umbrella platform.
  • Segmentation for different types of traffic do service provider can add business models and services.
  • Support for multiple low-power connectivity options, such as NB-IoT and LTE-M.
  • Used by eleven automotive OEMs and companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, GE Aviation, Allstate, Audi, and Garmin.
  • Strategic Partnerships with Microsoft Azure, Salesforce.com, SAP SE.
  • Reliance Communications—Reliance Communications, a telecommunications service provider, partnered with Jasper to manage and monetize Next-Generation IoT businesses.
  • Awards & Recognition:
    • 2015 GSMA Global Mobile Awards Winner: Best Mobile Innovation for the 'Internet of Things'
    • 2015 Technology Pioneer: World Economic Forum Recognizes 24 Leading Technology Pioneers
    • 2014 World Communication Awards Winner: The Connected World Initiative
    • 2014 Total Telecom Internet of Things Awards Winner: Project of the Year

Programming Environment/Tools

  • Aironet Developer Platform (ADP)
  • A sample application might perform video analytics utilizing a Cisco Aironet 3800 AP, an ADP hardware development kit, a Raspberry Pi, and OpenCV.

Hardware Development Kit (HDK): Sensor integration with Raspberry Pi

DevNet Sandbox: DevNet Sandboxes are packaged labs that are available to developers and engineers. Sandboxes can be used for development, testing APIs, learning how to configure a product, training, and much more.

ADP Sandbox: The ADP sandbox delivers a Cisco Aironet 3800 series access point with the ADP Extender Module HDK. The HDK is connected to a pre-configured Raspberry Pi. To gain access to this development environment, you will need to make a reservation.

Manage and Deploy your Edge Applications: Build, deploy, and monitor applications at the network edge with Cisco IOx and Cisco Fog Director.

Mobility and Location Services: Whether you want Cloud managed or full on-prem control with millimeter accuracy, Cisco Jasper has got your location services covered.

Meraki Location API: The Cisco Meraki Location Analytics API uses intelligent access points to deliver real-time location analytics data directly to customers.

Cisco CMX: Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) is a smart Wi-Fi solution that uses the Cisco wireless infrastructure to detect and locate consumers' mobile devices with pinpoint accuracy.

Cisco Kinetic for Cities: Create innovative new community experiences with creative transformational impact when solutions and data are unlocked from silos and available for cross-referencing across multiple industries, sectors, and localities.

Deploy, Collect, Connect, and Analyze IoT: Build new business with the ability to process high volumes of data in the fog and deliver closed-loop system control in real time.

PNDA: A scalable, open source big data analytics platform for networks and services.

Architect IoT Applications Quickly with DevIoT: DevIoT is an environment that enables developers and makers to quickly engineer, prototype, and design IoT applications with Cisco APIs and other familiar services. The IDE itself features various cloud connector plug-ins to quickly integrate various cloud applications like AWS, Cisco Spark, Salesforce, Hadoop, and even integrate with other connector services such as Built IO.

Cisco Kinetic: This new class of platform extracts data from its source, computes on distributed nodes, and moves data to distributed applications.

OS/Languages

Cisco IOx allows application developers to work in the familiar Linux application environment with their choice of languages and programming models with familiar open-source development tools.

IOx supported platforms:

  • IR829/IR809 Intel 64 bit
  • IE4000 PPC 32 bit
  • CGR1000 Compute Module (CGMSRV) AMD 64
  • UCS C2xx Intel 64 bit
  • ISR4351/4331 Intel 64 bit
  • Etc…

See https://developer.cisco.com/docs/iox/#supported-platforms for a full list.

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced developers

Most Recent Update/stable Release: N/A

License

Licenses vary by product and/or service. For instance, Cisco IOx and Fog Director are licensed on a per-device, term subscription basis.

  • IOx and Fog Director are available as part of the single PID.
  • License for IOx and Fog Director can be ordered with a subscription term of 1, 3, or 5 years.
  • Subscription term includes software upgrades and support.
  • Customers can choose a subscription-billing model of either a monthly payment for the duration of the term or prepaid for the whole term.
  • Begin with the following top level PID: IOX-SOFTWARE, then configure the IOX CORE OPTION with the appropriate platform specific PIDs and subscription term.

Conclusion

Cisco Jasper has a lot going for it, but perhaps the star of their show is the Cisco Jasper Control Center, which allows you to configure, manage, and troubleshoot IoT deployments in an easy and reliable way, both by API and Web Interface. It provides control and support for IoT/M2M deployments, as well as management and troubleshooting, all within the same tool. Moreover, you get a generous helping of support from the Cisco IoT Team.

Cisco Jasper is one of several IoT Platforms to make our list. You can find the others in the IoT area of Codeguru!



About the Author

Robert Gravelle

Rob Gravelle combined his love of programming and music to become a software guru and accomplished guitar player. He created systems that are used by Canada Border Services, CSIS and other Intelligence-related organizations. As a software consultant, Rob has developed Web applications for many businesses and recently created a MooTools version of PHPFreechat for ViziMetrics. Musically, Rob recently embarked on a solo music career, after playing with Ivory Knight since 2000. That band was rated as one Canada's top bands by Brave Words magazine (issue #92) and released two CDs. Rob's latest, entitled KNIGHTFALL, was a collaboration between himself, the former Ivory Knight vocalist, and legendary guitarist/producer, Jeff Waters of Annihilator fame. Rob is available for short-term software projects and recording session work. to inquire, but note that, due to the volume of emails received, he cannot respond to every email. Potential jobs and praise receive highest priority!

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