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Services – the Missing “S” in the SDN Debate

While I’ve been writing about Cisco Domain TenSM, I’ve been watching the SDN debate evolve in our industry, and I have to say, I’ve had my concerns.  Don’t get me wrong – I personally see SDN as an important and very much required evolution (and note: ‘evolution’ – not ‘revolution’) of the networking industry.  Being able to extract more value from the network – through, for example, a consistent and broad network API – I mean, who wouldn’t be excited about that!  And especially for us in Cisco, with the largest by far networking installed base, the ability to uncover and exploit additional value for our customers from the network can only be a good thing!

As I say, over the past year or two, I’ve been perturbed about lack of discussion across the industry about the adoption and deployment challenges associated with SDN.  There is – bluntly – too much “nirvana” or “marketing promises” out there,  too much focus on the end result (e.g. “look at our use case, wow isn’t it great”) without discussion of steps required for a success, and too little discussion on the costs and challenges of the design and implementation of SDN solutions (e.g. “took us X man years + $M of investment”).  It’s now time to change the discussion.

I was therefore delighted to see Jim Meltzer’s discussion of the issues he was seeing with his clients regarding SDN.

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The Heartbeat of the Small Cell Network

We were pleased to accept a Small Cell Industry Award last night for small cell design and technology innovation for the Cisco Management Heartbeat Server (CMHS). We were particularly pleased because the CMHS is an example of a solution our engineering team developed in response to some real world issues we were seeing in our customer’s small cell network – one of the largest small cell networks deployed today.

Above: Partho Mishra,VP/GM, Small Cell Technology Group, Cisco

When small cells are deployed in the hundreds of thousands, there’s a need to scale the monitoring of the access points so that operations are simplified while customers are kept happy.  The CMHS monitors connectivity and service status in real-time with ongoing heartbeats, and provides Read More »

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The Programmable Network: Advanced Flow Control

The increasing diversity and complexity of traffic traversing the Internet of Everything­ today can be imagined as a three-dimensional collection of intersecting highways of different kinds (e.g., corporate WAN, Internet, mobile, Wi-Fi, cellular, cable, cloud), with a wide array of vehicles (e.g., PCs, tablets, smartphones) carrying various types of passengers (e.g., data, voice, video, email, SMS, Web).   Emerging traffic from the new category of machine-to-machine communications is scaling exponentially and introducing new policy triggers.

In this new environment network operators must become master traffic controllers to deal with all of the volume, diversity, and complexity. The most innovative and forward-looking experts are aggressively looking into providing more open programmatic access to their network functions and services. The goal is easier and faster control, in order to make them more agile, flexible and application interactive while at the same time optimally aligning costs with potential new revenues.

Cisco ONE Building Blocks: Controllers and Agents

Software Defined Networking (SDN) plays a key role within Read More »

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How Service Providers Can Capture Seven Times Their Mobile Investment

By Henky Agusleo, Vertical Manager, and Neeraj Arora, Director, IBSG Service Provider

With nearly a billion smartphones and tablets in use today, the time is ripe for service providers (SPs) to invest in cloud-based Connected Life services for mobile devices. The Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) projects a direct mobile cloud service opportunity of more than $60 billion worldwide by 2016. So far, the first-mover advantage has gone to over-the-top (OTT) players such as Google, and device makers such as Apple. However, service providers (SPs) are well positioned to capture significant revenue in the growing market for cloud-based mobile services. With the right investment and implementation strategies, they can more fully realize this crucial avenue for growth and cost savings.

Cisco IBSG sees consumers demanding mobile-cloud services that fall into four key categories:

  1. Learn and Play: Gaming, video, information, productivity-enhancing services
  2. Communicate: Video calls, social networking
  3. Shop and Pay: Payments, healthcare, travel, location, context-based ads, mobile retail
  4. Monitor and Control: Home automation, surveillance

Sevenfold Revenue Return on Investment

Despite the $60 billion opportunity, mobile operators have been slow to make the investment necessary to develop these cloud-based services. One reason for this lag could be concern about profit margins, which tend to be significantly lower than for traditional mobile services. A number of factors could explain the lower profit margins, including: Read More »

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The Path to Wi-Fi Profitability

The insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating staggering amounts of mobile data and placing a crushing burden on networks. One barometer is the recently released Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), which predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month. The study also predicted that two-thirds of all mobile traffic will be video by 2015, and an additional 20 percent of this traffic will be devoted to both the mobile web and mobile data.

In parallel, we are witnessing a “perfect storm” in both Wi-Fi availability and customer acceptance that is resulting in a worldwide rise in the popularity of Wi-Fi. Consumers can now readily use their numerous Wi-Fi enabled devices in their homes, offices and increasingly in many of the other places where they spend their lives. Mobile users are actively searching out Wi-Fi connectivity as a cost-effective and adequate substitute or complement to mobile access to the Internet.

Based on this Wi-Fi “perfect storm” and the explosion of mobile data traffic traversing their networks, Service Providers realize that they now need to pay attention to Wi-Fi. In our conversations with SPs around the world they now recognize that that Wi-Fi is more than just data-off load and needs to be Read More »

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