March 2009 was an exciting time for both for Cisco and for me personally. Cisco launched the revolutionary Unified Computing System, with many observers across the industry doubting if we’d stay the course (and if we’re honest, some truly misplaced derision -- I wonder who is on Planet Zircon now!). And I joined the Cisco Data Center Services team from the Cisco R&D organization! So with the recent third generation launch of Cisco UCS, described very well by my colleague Todd Brannon, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on our data center services portfolio around that time, and where we are now. My previous blogs chronicle part of this journey, however I have to say, the direct comparison I draw here I personally think shows that we have indeed brought a new transformational experience to the data center for our customers. And I’d like to give you my personal recollections on how and what I found out about Cisco’s approach to shaking the incumbents’ lack of innovation in the blade server market.
Only a few years ago, the challenges facing mobile providers seemed well within the realm of their traditional expertise. Their vast and complex infrastructures, built around towers, antennas, core networks, and the like, focused on providing the bandwidth and signal quality necessary for providing clear voice signals. Early mobile Internet applications were limited to services like weather, news, and stock quotes. As video entered the picture, it was mostly limited to a quick, manageable snack here and there on YouTube. After all, on a tiny, phone-sized screen, the prospects for a sumptuous two-hour movie feast were limited.
The situation, however, is being radically transformed. And at this years’ Mobile World Congress, which I attended last week in Barcelona, a clear focus was on a prime disruptor: the tablet and vast, media-rich applications. For with the sudden and phenomenal growth of the iPad—along with its Android-based counterparts—end users who had been limited to quick bites on YouTube are ready to indulge in long-form video buffets, anytime and anywhere. And while those game-changing tablets don’t quite provide an IMAX experience, their larger screens nevertheless offer the perfect mix of visual quality, mobility, and convenience.
For mobile service carriers, however, this has created a certain amount of havoc. Read More »
Musings and mutterings from the just-completed Mobile World Congress 2012 . . .
Darned if this still isn’t the only place in the universe where there are waiting lines leading into the men’s rooms but not the ladies’ rooms . . . Obviously, the planners did not heed my carefully crafted suggestion for improvement made in the wake of the 2011 event.
Barcelona did get the weather right this year, though – Each day was darned sunny and fairly warm . . . a decided contrast to the last two Februarys.
The show was held two weeks later this year than in previous years, so no one had an excuse for being away on Valentine’s Day. “Sorry, honey, but I ‘have’ to go to Barcelona this week . . .” didn’t work this time.
All that aside, MWC continues to enhance its position as the largest, most important service provider-focused show of the year.
The projected attendance was 65,000, about 12% more than in 2011. It will be a few days before the official figure is posted, but, judging from the traffic inside and outside the Fira de Barcelona all four days, the estimate seems reasonable.
The most prominent theme this year was SP Wi-Fi/small cells . . . which just happened to align perfectly with Cisco’s key messaging and announcement. Not to mention numerous customer-focused mentions this week and last. Cisco focused “not only on what we make, but what we make possible.”
Other consistent themes included monetization, optimization, reducing capex and opex, and cloud applications.
ARPU continues to stagnate . . . a real problem for operators.
Another theme often heard is that service providers are more and more looking for advice from vendors. There was a time when that was not true. “They’re looking at the situation and saying, ‘We need some help figuring out what to do with all this stuff,” one analyst remarked. Another added, “It’s VERY important for a vendor to be considered a trusted advisor.” Hmmm – Does Cisco’s consulting arm – the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) – ring a bell?
Mobile World Congress has evolved – as it must – in its approximately 15 years of existence. Real old-timers remember when it was small and very clubby. Particularly in the last few years, it has changed and broadened as the concept of mobility has become more ubiquitous. “Three years ago, it was more of a pure infrastructure show with the Huaweis, Ericssons of the world holding forth,” said one. “Last year, companies like Samsung and Google got much of the attention. This year, it’s WiFi and small cells.”
“Four years ago here, a Hotspot was an oddity,” one analyst said. “Now, it’s the norm.”
In a Cisco analyst/media event about small cells, Telstra CTO Dr. Hugh Bradlaw said, “It’s the network, stupid. That’s what makes the cloud possible.”
Machine-to-machine continues to grow in importance. One analyst firm characterized it this way: “M2M = M3 . . . Make More Money”.
Overheard while standing in line at the men’s room: “Operators are chasing the consumer too much and not realizing that a lot of SMBs and mid-market companies are dying for solutions that are right in their [the operators’] sweet spot.”
“Terrific! Fantastic! Cisco have delivered yet more innovation and data center switching and unified fabric leadership. All these new features and capabilities!” …. BUT … (and you may be asking this question) …. “How can we exploit these new features quickly? I’m just too busy!”
Let’s face it -- these new data center capabilities are not much use sitting on your loading dock or drawing board. You’ll know this better that me -- it’s one thing to have new features available, it’s another challenge to exploit them by designing them into your architecture -- that is where the real skill comes in. But you’re busy, are unbdoubtedly overloaded, and wondering how you can get it all done.
So how can we help you translate these excellent new features into your production data center? How can you get access to our Cisco experts who have (each!) architected literally dozens of unified fabric designs? Perhaps you don’t need or want a full multi-week design exercise -- what other options are available to you? What can Cisco do that is small, quick and provides you with the key expertise to guide your direction on unified fabric adoption and evolution?
Let me continue the theme of my previous blogs and show how Cisco Services can help you exploit these latest market-leading innovations. I’m going to focus on how Design Reviews with our data center experts, through our Cisco Data Center Optimization Service (discussed previously here), could really take the pressure off you and your team and deliver real business benefits at the same time.
The “information superhighway” metaphor is more appropriate than ever for mobile networks today. There are increasingly more and different types of traffic, drivers, and vehicles. And the focus on speed, cost, and efficiency in mobile backhaul is akin to moving more cars through freeway on-ramps and exits faster and with less overhead.
As outlined by Cisco’s Next-Generation Internet architecture, Cisco is working to optimize the service provider roadway with innovative and cost-effective solutions like the new ASR 9000 System. And just as a better car can offer an improved experience, better safety, and more miles-per-gallon, Cisco’s Unified RAN Backhaul solution provides greater performance, reliability, scale, and power efficiency. Read More »