BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2015 -- Cisco is to rebadge and resell the entire wireless small cell portfolio of specialist vendor SpiderCloud, the two companies announced here at MWC Monday morning.
The partnership looks particularly significant for SpiderCloud Wireless , as it gives the privately held company, which has developed multimode small cells designed to provide wireless coverage in large buildings, stadiums and office blocks, another major validation from one of the biggest names in networking and opens up a massive new market for its products through Cisco's global sales channels.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), meanwhile, gets a ready-made and already operator-validated small cell portfolio to sell alongside the rest of its enterprise networking systems. The move does, though, call into question how well Cisco's own small cell developments are going and shows just how hard it is to develop such a system from scratch. (See Cisco's Small Cell Boss Is Gone.)
Cisco will brand SpiderCloud's portfolio as its Universal Small Cell (USC) 8000 Series, which it will sell globally. The first customer to take the USC from Cisco is Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which is already familiar with SpiderCloud's technology. (See Vodafone UK Launches Sure Signal Premium and Vodafone Deploys SpiderCloud's Small Cells.)
The networking giant is offering SpiderCloud's technology either as branded standalone units or, eventually, as plug-in modules for Cisco's Aironet 3600/3700 WiFi access points.
The move makes sense and fits in with Cisco's market approach, says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown. "My immediate thought was it was a climb-down from Cisco's in-house small cell product development. But then I thought, kudos to Cisco for recognizing it has a gap in its solution that customers want," he notes.
"Not just the small cells, but the system, including the services node, is close to how Cisco presents and delivers enterprise and venue services. And the SpiderCloud product is mature, in-demand and actually very suited to Cisco's enterprise mobility model," Brown adds.
So is the first step towards Cisco, which already has picocell player Ubiquisys under its belt and which has been trying to develop its own cellular small cell technology, swallowing SpiderCloud in a takeover? (See SpiderCloud: Cisco 'Naïve' on Small Cells.)
SpiderCloud's chief marketing officer Ronny Haraldsvik says there have been no such discussions and that the specialist company is focused on building itself into an independent company generating $200-300 million a year in sales. It already has a resale partnership with NEC that has been delivering business, including a new deal announced Monday with Turkish operator Avea.
And while NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) is an investor in SpiderCloud, which has raised $125 million to date, Cisco is not, notes Haraldsvik, who says the company doesn't expect to need any further funding. "We have the money we need to support our existing accounts and to expand internationally," says the marketing man, who appears hell bent on beating Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and other major network equipment suppliers (but particularly Ericsson) to as much small cell business as he can.
Ericsson has for a few years been talking up its Radio Dot small cell solution but has struggled to bring it to market and gain traction. It has been making small steps, though: Verizon Wireless just announced that it is installing the Radio Dot small cell architecture at its regional headquarters building in metro Detroit. (See Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas .
But SpiderCloud previously announced a much more wide-ranging deal with the same operator. (See Verizon Taps SpiderCloud for Dual-Band 4G Small Cells.)
"As usual, wherever we go Ericsson turns up," says the bullish Haraldsvik, who believes his company has the edge in terms of ease-of-deployment. "With us, Cisco gets to accelerate its time-to-market. Before this deal Cisco was behind Ericsson and Huawei but now they've just leapfrogged them."
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading