Scaling IoT Control Center with Pulsar Integration at Cisco


In a recent presentation, Chandra Ganguly and Alec Hothan from Cisco provided an in-depth exploration into the integration of Pulsar into Cisco's IoT control center. This case study unveils Cisco's strategic decision to enhance its IoT infrastructure by replacing a legacy messaging broker with Pulsar.


Cisco's IoT control center is responsible for the lifecycle management of IoT devices, working with 35,000 enterprises managing over 245 million connected devices. Every month, it handles 4.5 billion API calls, with connected cars being the fastest-growing sector, contributing 84 million devices. All communications follow a pub/sub model that necessitates a messaging broker. Although Kestel has been the tool of choice, its limitations prompted the need for a more robust solution. "The most important thing is that devices should not lose connectivity no matter what." Recognizing this need, Chandra Ganguly and Alec Hothan embarked on a journey to seamlessly integrate Pulsar into their infrastructure.

“We needed a messaging system that had to be reliable, scalable, and had extremely light overhead. Everything needs to be geo-replicated and encrypted/secure. What we are investing today, we are investing for the future.”


The duo articulated the rationale behind choosing Pulsar, emphasizing its reliability, scalability, and low overhead. Pulsar's capabilities aligned seamlessly with Cisco's requirements for lifecycle management, covering network connectivity, billing, and reporting for diverse IoT devices.

Technical Deployment:

Hothan delved into the technical intricacies of the deployment, providing a comprehensive overview. The discussion covered key aspects such as workload management, data ingestion strategies, redundancy mechanisms, observability tools, storage options, and the pivotal role of security.

The deployment process, facilitated by Kubernetes and Flux CD (an open-source CICD project from CNCF), was outlined to showcase the efficiency and precision achieved.

“With Pulsar operator, I just have to declare what resource I need, and the operator will take care of all the deployment.”

Learnings and Future Plans:

The presentation went beyond the deployment phase to share valuable insights gained from the integration. Hothan discussed their learnings and detailed future plans for auto-scaling and improving performance. The audience gained a nuanced understanding of the continuous evolution of Cisco's IoT control center.


Cisco's integration of Pulsar into its IoT control center emerges as a triumph, showcasing a meticulous approach to address critical challenges in IoT device lifecycle management. The decision to replace a legacy messaging broker with Pulsar underscores the commitment to reliability, scalability, and efficiency. Ganguli and Hothan's presentation serves as a valuable resource for organizations seeking inspiration and practical guidance in enhancing their IoT infrastructure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pulsar's reliability, scalability, and low overhead were pivotal in addressing Cisco's challenges.
  • Technical details of deployment, including workload management and security, were thoroughly explored.
  • Insights into learnings and future plans provided a holistic view of the integration journey.
  • Challenges in configuration management were acknowledged, and practical solutions were discussed.
  • Cisco's case study stands as a testament to the transformative power of strategic technology integration in IoT infrastructure.


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