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Femto Family Fun – the AT&T 3G MicroCell

Nothing says father-son bonding as much as spending part of your weekend afternoon installing a cell tower in your home.  And that’s what I did last weekend with my 8 year-old.  But instead of needing a crane, support crew, and OSHA certification, we managed to clear some Legos off of the table top and install it in our game room, courtesy of the AT&T 3G MicroCell solution.

It’s a cell tower in our house, easy enough for a marketing guy like me to install, and delivers a signal strength higher than we’ve ever seen in our hillside home.

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Three Key Factors When Selecting an Ethernet Exchange

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of an Ethernet exchange, it’s a fairly simple one. An Ethernet exchange is a place that enables service providers or large enterprises to interconnect on a neutral basis using Ethernet – instead of SONET/SDH – to provide higher bandwidth at lower costs. The real issue for a service provider or enterprise is not if, rather it is how to choose the right exchange to join? Or, at least which one to join first?

All of the major players offering an exchange are members of the Metro Ethernet Forum and are adhering to the latest standards. All seek to offer resilient carrier class services and a mix of Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet service rates. At first glance they might seem similar, but there are actually three critical factors that differentiate the experiences and that should be considered when evaluating an Ethernet exchange operator. 

  1. Does the operator take a network-based approach to extend its reach?
  2. Can it provide a personalized service portal?
  3. Is it able to help with end-to-end interconnect oversight and management?

The reason why each of these is important is spelled out in the white paper, “Fast Forward to Ethernet Exchanges,” but let me provide a quick summary here.

The network-based approach is critical to making it easier to offer Ethernet services. Consider that the value of an exchange is largely based on the number of possible connections enabled by membership in that exchange. For example, a service provider linked to a one exchange with five members means that up to five connections could be made. However, if that same SP was connected to a networked Ethernet exchange in five different cities, each with five members, then that SP could connect to (and buy from / sell to) 25 other exchange members with just one Gig-E connection. Some exchanges take care of this inter-exchange network for you.

exchange locatorThe second point is around portals. The whole point of the exchange is to make it faster and easier to connect disparate customer locations. Being forced to manually look up which buildings are “lit” wastes time and slows down the sales process. User portals that can be personalized and provide details on which buildings are “on network,” which cell towers are connected, and what circuits are available are just as important as the actual physical hardware itself.

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Packet or Transport? Get Your Questions Ready for October 5th

cisco webcast panel presentersThe OSI stack has long served the telecom industry as a model for engineering since the early 80’s (which IMHO was the best decade for music, but I digress). Nowadays the industry is abuzz with a host of developments in the lower layers of the OSI stack. Technologies like OTN and MPLS-TP are being built to extend transport characteristics in the packet domain. At the same time, bandwidth technologies continue to scale upwards to 100G and beyond. While discussions at layer 8 abound on some of them, the industry is largely converging on a standards-based path for development.

Earlier in May, Cisco hosted the IP NGN Virtual Summit where many of you got a flavor of the Transport Architecture evolution amongst various other topics. Following its success, we decided to expand on Transport Technologies in more detail in an hour-long event. The format is much more interactive, and those of you with burning questions can ask them live to our panel of experts. (Register Here)

The event will be held on Tuesday October 5, 2010 with two broadcasts to suit your schedule (each features the live Q&A):

  • First Broadcast: 0500-0600 PDT (San Francisco), 1200-1300 GMT (London)
  • Second Broadcast: 0900-1000 PDT (San Francisco), 1600-1700 GMT (London)

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Service Provider Network Advantage in the Cloud

At VMworld 2010, we were excited to receive the “Best of VMworld 2010” award in the Hardware for Virtualization category with our Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) technology. Running on the Cisco Nexus 7000 series, OTV allows Service Providers to bridge LANs between separate data centers in an intelligent, secure, and dynamic fashion. In essence, it brings layer 2 capabilities to layer 3 over a unified IP network and was designed for large networks. This enables SPs to use their scale to provide better services (i.e. resource utilization and optimization), decrease costs (i.e. workload balancing), and ensure service delivery (i.e. business continuity and flexible upgrading options).

We were also glad to meet and interact with customers at the Cisco booth. Our theater sessions were full, our demos were in high demand, and we had some great conversations. A recording of the full presentation of the opportunity for SPs in the Cloud is now available:

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Doobie Brothers Unique Premiere via TelePresence

Doobie Brothers - World Gone Crazy - new album release

The Doobie Brothers are the sound of my childhood as my Dad would seemingly wear out record player needles, playing albums over and over again. Now, the classic American rock legends, the Doobie Brothers, are back – with a new recording entitled “World Gone Crazy,” releasing on September 28. All of us at Cisco are really excited to partner with AT&T and Marriott to host the band’s live performance – broadcast via Cisco TelePresence and Ustream – on Monday, September 27th at 3:30pm PST from the CiscoTV studios in San Jose, California. In fact, I didn’t realize how many Doobie Brothers fans there were until we opened up a few seats in the studio audience to Cisco employees and were simply bombarded by, no kidding, thousands of requests. (Of note, my administrative partner is one of them…I need to get her in or else she’ll book my next flight to Boston with a connection in Bangladesh.)

The good thing is that you don’t have to be in our San Jose studio for the event. We invite you to join the live concert on Ustream – from anywhere in the world – to hear their classic and new songs. And many others, through various promotions, will be able to attend the concert via the AT&T TelePresence service and Marriott TelePresence locations. Together, working with our partners, we can help to transform how we all experience music and video, in a truly interactive online format.

Harnessing the Power to Bring People Together

You know, back in January, when Marriott announced their Go There Virtual Meetings facilities, I have to admit that I don’t recall discussing with them the possibility of launching an album over it or helping a band effectively create a “world tour” event in a single evening…

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