Arris Shows Off New Mojo
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Cable Show -- This year's Cable Show is turning into a big coming-out party for the new Arris Group Inc., an organization that combines the classic Arris business with the company formerly known as Motorola Home.
At the top of the vendor's highlight reel for the show are two big announcements with Comcast Corp.. The MSO is taking Arris's flagship Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) product, the E6000 Converged Edge Router, from the trial stage to commercial deployment. In addition, Comcast will launch the Arris XG1 home media gateway, starting in the third quarter, as part of the MSO's nationwide X1 rollout.
Besides announcing major new customer wins, Arris also brought out the big guns Monday for a media roundtable showcasing both legacy Arris and former Motorola Home executives as part of a single, unified leadership team. Headlining the event were: Bruce McClelland, head of Arris's new network and cloud division; John Burke, who is leading the company's new strategy and converged services group; and Larry Robinson, president of the new customer premises equipment business unit. (See Arris Forms New Top Team.)
Arris has been working diligently to integrate its classic and inherited product lines across the network, CPE (customer premises equipment), software and services categories. Company executives emphasized the progress they've made in just 60 days. From CCAP to CPE, and from Motorola's products to the Arris portfolio, McClelland, Burke and Robinson answered numerous questions that have surfaced since the two companies joined together in the spring.
On the network access front, Arris and Motorola had some significant areas of overlap across their product lines. The two companies competed both in traditional cable modem termination system (CMTS) hardware and in next-generation CCAP technology. McClelland made it clear that Arris will continue supporting legacy hardware and that it has a strong roadmap for ongoing development with both the Arris C4 CMTS and the Motorola BSR 64000. He even went so far as to predict that those products will likely be in the field for the next seven years. "The installed base is an important asset for us," said McClelland, emphasizing that it's easier to migrate existing customers to a new platform than it is to recruit new customers. Moving on to CCAP, McClelland noted that the company will try to integrate some of the technology from Motorola's Video Services Platform (VSP) in the future. (See Hey, Motorola! Your CCAP is Showing.) But he stressed that the company's main focus is indisputably on the E6000. Combined with the Motorola APEX3000 edge QAM for near-term video needs, the E6000 is Arris's answer for cable operators seeking to migrate to new CCAP architectures. On the CPE front, Arris has less overlap to worry about. Prior to the acquisition, Arris had no plans to invest in QAM set-tops, while Motorola brought plenty of those to the partnership. Going forward, Robinson said Arris is "in the process of evolving our portfolio of … traditional CPE … to a world that's really focused on gateways … [with] the gateway really becoming the hub inside the home." Arris has developed both headed and headless gateway options for MSOs. The company has been heavily focused on building to Comcast's Reference Design Kit (RDK) platform for IP set-tops, gateways and other video devices, which Robinson says is "really intended to help accelerate the rate of innovation." One product that isn't sticking around is Motorola's Televation box, which was initially in trials with Comcast for its AnyPlay service, converting QAM video into IP streams for in-home video playback on mobile devices. (See Comcast Uses TV Streamer to Pump Mobile Bundles.) Burke confirmed that there aren't "ongoing plans for [Comcast] to continue with the hardware," noting that there may be a more cost-effective approach to gateways that include the same functionality. The software
On the software front, Arris is focusing much of its energies on multi-screen video delivery. Motorola's Medios+ multi-screen architecture will continue to evolve under the Arris moniker. Here at the show, Arris is demonstrating several updates to its existing software modules alongside new integrations with its classic products. Within Medios+, the DreamGallery interface now ties closely with both Motorola's Merchandiser storefront platform and VideoFlow content management software. Arris is also integrating DreamGallery with its VIPr (aka Viper) encoder/transcoder platform, and the broader Medios product suite is getting a new advertising component with the addition of Arris' award-winning SkyVision advertising platform. Previously, Motorola had no home-grown advertising software, a gap that SkyVision can fill. As for the Moxi TV interface, Burke made it clear Arris will continue supporting that UI alongside DreamGallery. But he said the industry will likely see the "Moxi platform becoming more of an application" in the broader multi-screen framework. Also within Arris's multi-screen portfolio, Burke emphasized the importance of SecureMedia, which is currently in use by a number of cable operators in Europe, as well as by Verizon Communications Inc. for its Flex View product and Redbox Instant service. Burke noted that operators are growing more comfortable with software-based digital rights management (DRM) technology. With SecureMedia, he said, Arris can offer an integrated solution covering both traditional linear television and new multi-screen services. Motorola's home automation offering, which it acquired from 4Home in 2010, finds itself something of an outlier in the Arris software portfolio. While the product isn't disappearing, Arris isn't lavishing much public attention on it either. Burke said the company continues to see interest from cable operators, but that MSOs have "yet to see a viable business model emerge" for home automation software. He added that "perhaps it's an issue of prioritization." Service assurance is a different story. Arris's WorkAssure, ServAssure and EventAssure products match up nicely with the old Motorola Edge Manager line. Between the two portfolios, Arris now has solutions to address system monitoring and network troubleshooting all the way down to the home gateway. A united front
The Monday media roundtable kicked off a big week for the new Arris as it seeks to prove that the merged company's "whole" is greater than the sum of its parts. Arris has two booths on the exhibit floor here (the result of dual commitments from Arris and Motorola) and is featured in the NCTA Observatory, Imagine Park, and CableNET sections. The old Motorola, meanwhile, is rapidly fading into cable history. — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable