After identifying where the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) can benefit the organization, the search will be on for staff with the skills to make it happen – and quickly. Particularly within the IIoT, or Industrial Internet of Things, successfully retaining existing staff who are knowledgeable about legacy systems and production practices, and offering them training and certification opportunities, could be the key to getting to market and seeing returns from IoT-related projects.
That’s part of the urgency behind a new job-role-based certification offering from Cisco, the CCNA Industrial (IoT). A skills gap is forming, say Cisco executives, as industrial networks converge with IT infrastructure. IT professionals who can master IT, networking and traditional control systems are needed to oversee the transitions.
Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, senior manager, product management and marketing at Cisco, says about the creation of the new certification:
“The interest and requests came from employers and individuals working in industrial plants. Technology disruptions in manufacturing and industrial plants have created talent and skill gaps. This gap was at manageable levels when the number of connected devices was few. Now with every single device being connected, the skills gaps have increased and compounded the problem. Employers and individuals working in the plants came to us saying, we need to address this as an industry, and that was the genesis of the curriculum. Since Cisco has a very established program in traditional networking areas, the employers were looking to us to create a similar program for IoT. The main criteria that led to the conclusion that it was time for this cert is the business problem that the customers were facing due to lack of an education curriculum in this area. The job role had evolved, but the skills hadn’t.”
Cisco uses the term Internet of Everything (IoE), in addition to the IoT, and I asked Tejas Vashi, director, product strategy and marketing at Cisco, to explain the thinking behind this term and how Cisco defines it, as opposed to the IoT. Vashi explained that the IoE is more expansive than the IoT:
“Cisco defines the Internet of Everything as the networked connection of people, process, data and things. The benefit of IoE is derived from the compound impact of connecting people, process, data and things, and the value this increased connectedness creates as ‘everything’ comes online. IoE is creating unprecedented opportunities for organizations, individuals, communities and countries to realize greater value from the aforementioned networked connections.
"The difference between IoE and Internet of Things is that the IoT refers solely to the networked connection of physical objects. Cisco uses IoE to include the people and process components. IoT is a single technology transition, while IoE comprises many technology transitions, including IoT.”
To find out how much of the training for the new IoT certification is related to system security measures, I asked Danny Tomic, product marketing manager at Cisco, about the specifics for the course, and they are substantial:
“Security measures in industrial networks are very different to those of enterprise IT networks and in many ways, more challenging. The new CCNA Industrial curriculum covers security, specifically for industrial networks, in its own topic area. Over the five-day course, approximately one day will be dedicated to Industrial Wireless and Security Concerns.”
The new IoT-focused CCNA Industrial certification is a lab-based training and certification, and is part of the CCNA Industrial Education curriculum. The curriculum is targeted at Plant Administrators, Control Engineers and IT/Network engineers working in manufacturing. “The training and certification offerings,” says Cisco, “equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to build, manage and operate converged industrial networks.”
Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+