Cisco Systems at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show this week unveiled new and expanded partnerships that underscore the networking giant's efforts to supply the infrastructure for driving everything from software-based telecommunications and smart cities to cloud video services and targeted advertising.
The expanded partnership with Proximus, a Belgian telecom and IT service provider, illustrates Cisco's push to move beyond simply selling networking gear and become an enterprise IT solutions provider, with capabilities in everything from software-defined data centers to the Internet of things (IoT).
"Proximus sees the benefits of transforming networks to a software-based, agile platform," Cisco CEO John Chambers said in a statement when the partnership was announced Jan. 8. "We are expanding our collaboration to embrace the benefits of the Internet of Everything (IoE) with cloud-based video solutions, virtualized managed services solutions and much more. Together with Proximus, we will co-develop a transformation roadmap towards more agile and cost efficient infrastructure that can sustainably cope with growth in volumes, rightsizing of operational resource and changes in skills and competencies."
Cisco is rapidly building out its capabilities in a broad range of areas, from its Intercloud strategy of being the technology that can link multiple clouds to its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative around data center resources to its work around the IoE, which Chambers and other executives have said includes the Internet of things as well as people and applications. At the same time, the company is continuing to work on its products around video, which featured prominently in some of the partnerships talked about at CES.
The expanded work with Proximus is designed to leverage Cisco's technology to enable Proximus to transform its capabilities to offer faster and more customized services. The two companies are focusing on three areas in particular: video delivery for consumers, smart city services for governments, and service orchestration and software-defined networking (SDN) for business-to-business customers. For example, Proximus will use Cisco's Videoscape technology to enable a telecom vendor to move digital TV functionality from a customer's DVR to its cloud infrastructure, which will make it easier for the vendor to deliver new services, the companies said.
Proximus also has created a connected cities framework that will take advantage of Cisco technology, and through the partnership, customers will be able to configure their network services online.
Cisco on Jan. 6 announced a partnership with Charter Communications, through which Cisco will provide its cloud-based security suite—including a downloadable security system for set-top boxes—and digital rights management technology for IP devices to support Charter's new cloud-based video delivery system, called Spectrum. Cisco also will provide new set-top boxes, all part of Charter's "Worldbox" effort to leverage legacy set-top systems for its new cloud-based video delivery system.
In another video-focused announcement a day earlier at CES, Cisco said it is partnering with Kabel Deutschland (KD) to help the largest cable provider in Germany develop its next-generation video service, which essentially will be a video hub for the home that converges TV content and Internet video. The two companies are working together to develop KD's TV platform, which will migrate control and functionality to the cloud. The move will enable the German company to quickly update features and offer new services. More details about the platform will come in September at the IFA 2015 show in Berlin.
Also at CES, Cisco and Sky, a European entertainment company, showcased the AdSmart targeted advertising technology. Through AdSmart, satellite operators can enable advertisers to target different ads to different households watching the same programming based on more than 150 demographic criteria. Service providers can leverage AdSmart to create more revenue streams, the companies said.
Cisco's contribution to AdSmart came through its Videoscape portfolio of cloud offerings, including metadata creation and generation, DVR disk storage and filing control, channel scheduling and payout automation interfaces, and video presentation.