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Enter the Era of Pervasive Mobility

Today closes my first week at Cisco. Starting a new job is always momentous, but this one is even more so. I’ve been in the wireless industry for 10 years -a virtual dinosaur -and for the bulk of that time, Cisco has been the networking force in wireless. The acquisition of Aironet in 1999 set the industry on a growth curve that hasn’t slowed since.And that brings to me why this job is so interesting. For 10 years, I’ve been with small companies fighting to gain mindshare in the shadow of Cisco. I’ve done a lot of interesting things and I’d like to think along the way helped a lot of customers, analysts and press understand the exciting new world of wireless and what possibilities it brings. But I sense that the opportunity is bigger now.While there is still plenty of innovation in Silicon Valley start ups, the era of wireless as I knew it has ended. When I started, there were four ‘major’ players in the wireless LAN space -Aironet, BreezeCOM, Proxim and Symbol. That’s it. Now, when you look at the wireless landscape, there are literally hundreds of companies. Wireless LAN, mesh, point to point, point to multipoint, WiMAX, RFID, Zigbee, 802.15, sensors, security, management, voice over Wi-Fi, etc. And that’s just technology companies. When you look at the extended space of application providers that are building their businesses on mobility and wireless, the number explodes. Companies like Jambo http://www.jambo.net that are using the ubiquity of Wi-Fi combined with the popularity of social networking to bring people together. My kids will grow up with capabilities like this in their personal mobility devices (I don’t even want to call them smartphones as who knows what they will be able to do in 10 years) and will wonder how mom and dad used to meet people ‘in the old days.’One era has ended, and I hope to help usher in the new one. An era of pervasive mobility. Not just voice calls. Not just the ability to connect. That you can do today from almost anywhere. But so many times that connection is barely usable, and certainly not enjoyable. How many of us have tried websurfing for simple things -like the nearest Italian restaurant -on our phones and given up. The speed, the device, the information display, the lack of context -so many things that limit the experience.But the ability to have the same experience -be it professional or personal -as you would if you were ‘wired’; that is the promise of pervasive mobility. To be in the company meeting while in a taxi riding from the airport. To collaborate on a powerpoint presentation while on the train commuting to work. To download direct to the HD player the kid’s movie you left behind while driving to Tahoe. (My personal dream to eliminate the stacks of DVDs we currently bring-.)Much of this is in sight, but so much more remains to be done. And this brings me to why I’m at Cisco. Of all the companies in the world, only Cisco has the means and the wherewithal to usher in this new era. No other company can deliver both the vision and the products that will enable the enterprise, the public sector and the individual to grab an IP pipe anywhere -indoors or out, still or in motion -- bringing life’s experiences to them wherever they may be.

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