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Cisco ASR 901: Pioneering Innovation and Product Development from Emerging Countries

Guest post from Dr. Ishwar Parulkar

Dr. Ishwar Parulkar is the CTO of Provider Access Business Unit of Cisco Systems in Bangalore.

The Indian Information Technology sector is coming of age as it focuses on innovation and product development after a couple of decades of success based on service based engineering models. The Asian software and services engineering giant is also trailblazing for the emerging world by bringing in specific technology needs of this part of the world -- which often leapfrog the needs in the developed world – into global products.

One such success in this direction is ASR 901, Cisco’s next generation mobile backhaul platform that recently won the New Technology Advancement Innovation Award at the NASSCOM 2012 India Leadership Forum. This product is also a unique case of reverse innovation, where even though initially driven by critical emerging countries’ requirements, it is now a competitive product in developed countries as well.

The product definition, its design tradeoffs, execution and development of ecosystem partnerships are a pioneering model for IT MNCs in the emerging world to innovate and drive end-to-end products development from their remote sites in emerging countries.

ASR 901 addresses the needs of Access, Carrier Ethernet, TDM backhaul and Cell Site Gateway. The features and price point of this product makes it very versatile and fit a range of applications from 2G/3G/4G/LTE cell sites, CE/ME/Business Access, NID to Optical Satellites, resulting in new revenue streams for the company. It is also the first Cisco product to be completely developed from the India site – from conception, architecture, hardware/software implementation, testing and qualification to marketing.

Some of the lessons learned in the development of ASR 901 that can be generalized for other similar efforts from emerging countries are:

1) It is important to define the right product – the product needs to be relevant to the business, the remote site needs to have an advantage in that space either because of proximity to the market or domain expertise and the product has to have the right level of complexity to succeed.

2) The right type and level of talent needs to be groomed or seeded from mature technology markets. Senior technologists/architects and product marketing experts, which are typically not easily available in emerging countries are particularly critical.

3) A work culture of innovation and product development, which is different than a service engineering culture needs to be consciously created through mentoring and work practices.

4) Product development requires a mature ecosystem of partners locally. The local ecosystem in emerging countries needs to be developed via co-development, transfer of knowledge as well building long term relationships.

ASR 901 is one key milestone in the evolution of Cisco’s focus on developing its engineering capability in its second headquarters, referred to as Globalisation Centre East- starting with sustaining work, taking on increasingly complex engineering tasks over time and culminating in an original product being developed from the site. A full-fledged mainstream business unit, the Provider Access Business Unit is now located in India.

Some of Cisco’s key innovative technologies, applicable across company’s product lines, are originating out of this site. The Cisco journey of evolution of engineering capability in emerging countries is well into the next phase of innovation and thought leadership.

Hungary’s Newest Cisco Networking Academy Opens New Opportunities for Disabled Students

24 disabled students started their networking studies this week, following the inauguration of a new Cisco Networking Academy at Addetur Foundation’s secondary school in Budapest.

“Addetur Foundation was established 18 years ago with the mission to support the integration of young people with disabilities and improve their employment prospects. The cooperation with Cisco Networking Academy is another important milestone for us, as it opens up a fast-developing area for our students,” said Gabriella Kekesne Czinderi, director of Addetur. “The fact that the networking academy curriculum can be accessed online is also a great help for our community”, she added.

Cisco Hungary contributed HUF 1,000,000 to the launch of the new academy, as part of the company’s vocational training contribution.

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Getting Closer to Customers in Central Europe and Beyond

Which Central European city has more than twenty universities, with the oldest one founded as early as 1364? As a little help, it is also the second largest city of the country which currently holds the European Union Presidency.

Views of Krakow. Source: wikipedia

Cisco continuously evaluates potential sites for support operations around the world and the availability of educated talent and an excellent communications infrastructure were key to the decision to choose Poland, and in particular Krakow, as the site of our next support center, to be opened in early summer 2012. This will be a shared services center supporting customers across the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) region. It will complement existing locations and will provide services across multiple functional groups including Cisco Services, Finance, Operations and others. 

 The Krakow support center is an important part of our strategy to enhance the way we serve our customers, partners and internal stakeholders across EMEAR. By establishing a shared services center in Central Europe, our aim is to get closer to our customers, in terms of geography and timezones while offering the convenience of multi-language support. 

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Malaysia Embarks on Smart+Connected Communities Journey

Nusajaya is a nascent city located on the South-western tip of Peninsula Malaysia and just a short drive away from Singapore. Nusajaya is also one of the crown jewels of Iskandar Malaysia, the special economic zone in the state of Johor and one of the flagships of the Malaysian Government’s national development plan.

Soon, Nusajaya could also become the catalyst for Smart City development in Malaysia and beyond. Yesterday, two of the area’s largest property developers, UEM Land Holdings Berhad and Iskandar Investment Berhad, signed agreements with Cisco to develop a master plan for a Smart+Connected Nusajaya.

“We’re seeing smart cities being built around the world and we think that Nusajaya has the potential to become a benchmark for smart cities. This is just the beginning, we want Cisco to help us plot the path for us towards a Smart+Connected Nusajaya,” said Dato’ Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, managing director and chief executive officer of UEM Land Holdings.

Anil Menon, President for Globalisation and Smart+Connected Communities, shared with the Malaysian media the forces that are driving smart city developments around the world:

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Smart+Connected Community Services to Roll-out Shortly in Songdo

Residents in Songdo International Business District will soon be able to learn a new dish or take a yoga class in the comfort of their homes. A managed services company called U.Life Solutions has been set up by Cisco, Gale Internatonal, POSCO E&C and LG CNS to deliver Smart+Connected Community Services in the newly established city.

At the launch event for the new entity on July 4, 2011, celebrity Korean chef and restaurateur, Soojin Choi (picture below), taught the audience how to make a chicken salad over Cisco TelePresence.

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