February 22, 2016
"Quantity has a quality all its own," according to an old saying. That seems to be the inspiration for Cisco's Mobile World Congress strategy -- to overwhelm attendees with a volume of announcements so vast that, if printed out, they would require several supertankers to transport them from Cisco's California headquarters to Barcelona.
I spent the weekend sorting through the announcements. Every time I thought I had this article nailed down, a new assault of information came in, until my email software sobbed for mercy.
Here's what we have so far, hours before the doors open in Barcelona:
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) on Monday will introduce a big service provider push with a focus in mobile network virtualization, 5G, its Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) partnership, and carrier customers.
More specifically, Cisco will introduce virtual mobile service core software, announce a joint project with Ericsson, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to develop a 5G router, and strut a beauty pageant of service provider customers. (See Cisco Launches Ultra Services Platform to Automate Mobile Cloud and Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Verizon Building 5G Router.)
Ultra Services Platform software is designed to automate both the virtual and physical service core to increase agility and revenue potential for service provider networks.
The technology is designed to help service providers automate their networks for greater agility and customer self-service. It can also help service providers simplify network engineering and deployment, and provide flexibility and elasticity for new services and new types of services, Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider products and solutions, tells Light Reading.
Cisco refers to this transformation as "digitization" -- enabled by taking previously manual processes and making them software controlled. This transition is also known as the New IP.
Operators need this new agility to capture revenue from new demand on their networks, says David Yates, Cisco director, service provider marketing. Network traffic is growing 53% year-over-year but revenues are flat. Service providers need tools to fund that extra traffic.
Service providers can also expect more than 4 billion extra machine-to-machine communications in the next five years as the Internet of Things matures. And they face competition from OTT providers. (See Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, 2015 - 2020 and Cisco: 40% of Mobile Users Will Be on 4G When 5G Hits.)
Find out more about 5G at our upcoming Big Communications Event in Austin, TX, May 24-25. Register now!
The telecom industry industry is "at an inflection point" with the push toward 5G, Internet of Things, cloud and digitization, a Cisco spokesman said in an email. "We view this as a bit of a coming out party because while Cisco is not a traditional mobile telecom player, we certainly are a complete player now with the new technology innovations like Ultra, key partnerships with the likes of Ericsson (which gives us gives us the 3G/4G and eventually 5G RAN), and very strong global customer traction (many of the main global operators are announcing deployments with us this year)." (See Cisco Buys IoT Cloud Provider Jasper for $1.4B, Cisco Looks to Jasper Acquisition to Transform Enterprises – & Itself and Service Provider & Cloud Help Cisco Beat Expectations.) Cisco is developing technologies in the areas of 5G, the Mobile Packet Core -- including Ultra -- LTE, service provider WiFi, unified RAN backhaul, and small cells, in addition to SDN, NFV, other service provider networking and virtual managed services. "Service providers need network as a service -- network on demand," Ahuja says. For example, an enterprise might want to connect to devices in a home, connected car, or other locations. That enterprise should be able to connect to a service provider that can manage the link automatically, using APIs or a web interface. "Service providers, through Ultra, can have the network configured without having to manually configure it." And the connectivity can be reconfigured on the fly. "You can stitch it up for whatever period you need it and then stitch it down for the period you don't need," Ahuja says. Next page: Cisco claims 5G first Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders chatted with Cisco's Ahuja about the company's service provider business recently:
Ultra Services Platform provides a distributed SDN architecture for scalability, NFV deployment, and to prepare networks for 5G, Internet of Things, and cloud, Cisco says. The software decentralizes service cores to reduce latency. The service core is split into a management and control plane, which remain centralized, as well as user plane distributed to the edge of the network. The user plane includes packet processing, user management, and Gi-LAN, as well as packet core, NAT, and firewalls from Cisco or partners. Ultra can integrate third-party components, and is deployable over public, private, or hybrid clouds, Cisco says. Cisco claims "massive scale" for the software - over 2 terabytes per second traffic handling capacity and over 20 million connections. Other claims from Cisco: The software will reduce time to revenue for new services, reduce time to deployment from "months to minutes" by allowing automated deployment through an easy to use interface, reduce deployment costs by 30% or more, and reduce TCO by 30-35%. Ultra is designed to bring 5G capabilities such a control and user plane separation and network slicing to today's networks, without having to wait for 5G standards to be set, Cisco says. The Cisco announcement sounds similar to a software mobile core announced by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) last week. But Cisco says its technology is broader -- including the Gi-LAN packet core, NAT, firewalls and automation framework -- and also differs in that the Brocade product is centralized while Cisco's is decentralized. (See Brocade: 5G Is More Than Just an Air Interface.) Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) are using the Ultra Services platform. DT is using it to create a multi-country mobile cloud, and SK Telecom is automating new service creation in minutes rather than days, and centralize network control, Cisco says. (See DT's Pan-Net Plans Need a Pick-Me-Up and SKT Adopts Ericsson's Telco Cloud Platform .) Ericsson partnership Also at MWC, Cisco and Ericsson will provide updates on their broad partnership, announced in November, with nearly 200 customer engagements "resulting in multiple customer wins," Cisco says
Cisco is working with Ericsson and Intel to develop a 5G router, which Cisco says will be an industry first. The three companies are partnering with Verizon on this, as part of the Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) 5G Technology Forum. (See Verizon & Partners to Field Test 5G in 2016, AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials, AT&T Wants to Start 5G Tests in Austin and 5G: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?.)
The product will offer gigabit speeds based on Cisco enterprise networking, Ericsson's 5G mobile networking, and Intel 5G silicon.
Cisco and Ericsson also plan on Monday to introduce the jointly developed Ericsson Dynamic Service manager, for managing transport services, initially focused on multivendor mobile backhaul networks, inter-data center connectivity, and enterprise VPNs.
Also, Cisco plans joint announcements this week with at least a dozen or so carriers. In addition to SK Telecom and DT on Ultra Services Platform, Cisco will announce wins with Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) on Cisco's Cloud Services Portfolio, as well as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon and Verizon Wireless , Orange (NYSE: FTE), Vodafone Germany and Vodacom Pty. Ltd.
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