UPDATED 06:15 EDT / SEPTEMBER 25 2012

What Will Cisco Network Next? Your Car, the New Computing Frontier

Cisco has identified an opportunity beyond the home network and datacenter: the vendor is pursuing the auto industry, with the goal of standardizing the networking equipment that powers your car.

The company is funneling resources into a new subsidiary that’s working on developing the next generation in-car network.   The door-locks, radios, sensors and all the other technology that has become a standard in any modern-day vehicle evolved over the years, but the base  infrastructure has not, according to Cisco. And the new business unit has been given the task of changing that.

“We literally have reached out to every car company in the world,” says Helder Antunes, managing director of Cisco’s smart connected vehicles unit. “What we would really like to do is to help standardize on the underlying networking platform and then allow them to innovate on the top.”

This standardization will involve the creation of an ‘in-vehicle client’ – one that’s equipped with wireless connections and Ethernet. In addition to being at least 70 to 80 pounds lighter than a traditional setup, Cisco says that this advanced network can also support newer technologies: Connected Vehicles will offer better access to the internet, and an anti-crash system currently in development even allows for car-to-car data-sharing protocol.

Cisco Fellow Flavio Bonomi, who pioneered this idea and is now spearheading his company’s efforts in this emerging space, hopes to see Connected Vehicles in the streets by 2015.

The networking vendor is incubating what could eventually become a highly-profitable automobile play, but at the same time it’s not neglecting the more current trends influencing its business. Earlier this month Cisco rolled out a number of new data center security products for virtualized environments and corporate mobile networks.


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