IoT Reference Model Introduced at IoT World Forum 2014

IOT_Ref_Model_imageCisco, IBM, and Intel presented an IoT Reference Model at the IoT World Forum in Chicago last week. The model is one more piece of evidence that the major industry players are working closely together to move the Internet of Things from the realm of hype to something real. The tone of the presentation which you can replay here  was one that emphasized the necessity of an open, standards-based approach. The model is the collaborative effort of the 28 members of the IoT World Forum’s Architecture, Management and Analytics Working Group, with Intel, GE, Itron, SAP, and Oracle among the members participating. You can read a Cisco press release about the event and more about the goals of the IoT Reference Model here.

Jim Green, CTO of Cisco’s Data & Analytics Business Group, kicked off the presentation with a compelling explanation of how the model breaks down the vast IoT concept into seven functional levels, from physical devices and controllers at Level 1 to collaboration and processes at Level 7.


Devices send and receive data interacting with the Network where the data is transmitted, normalized, and filtered using Edge Computing before landing in Data storage / Databases accessible by Applications which process it and provide it to people who will Act and Collaborate.

Cisco’s Green explains that traditional network, compute, application and data management architectures won’t support the critical volume and connectivity needs for The Internet of Things (IoT).  The IoT Reference model strives to bridge IT and operations technology and to address edge-to-center data challenges resulting from the integration of data in motion and data at rest in a world of 50 billion connected devices.  It is intended as “a decisive first step toward standardizing the concept and terminology surrounding the IoT.”


  • The reference model provides a common terminology, brings clarity to how information flows and is processed, and progresses towards a unified IoT industry.

  • It provides practical suggestions for how to address the challenges of scalability, interoperability, agility and legacy compatibility faced by many organizations seeking to deploy IoT systems today.

  • A goal of the initiative is to define an “Open System” for IoT where multiple companies can contribute different parts and provide a first step toward IoT product interoperability across vendors.


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