Cisco Systems wants to make it easier for service providers to gain real-time insight into all of their mobile networks and to more quickly deliver the services being demanded by their customers.
At the Mobile World Congress 2015 (WMC) show in Barcelona March 2, Cisco officials announced Mobility IQ, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) analytics solution hosted on the networking vendor’s cloud that can collect and analyze data from across all of a service provider’s mobile platforms—from WiFi to 3G to LTE—enabling them to more quickly identify how their networks are being used by mobile customers, both inside and outdoors. They can then quickly leverage the data to jump on business opportunities and to quickly spin out services for end users.
Also at the show, the company will talk about its Virtualized Managed Business Services solution, and will introduce a number of telecommunications service providers who are customers of Cisco’s virtual managed services.
Service providers currently have analytics tools for their wireless networks, but too often they’re stuck in silos determined by the technology—such as 3G, 4G and WiFi—or by the data they’re collecting, such as traffic flow or management, according to Keith Day, director of marketing for Cisco’s Services Group.
The vendor’s Mobility IQ brings all of this together, giving service providers a single solution for finding out everything about all of their mobile networks, Day told eWEEK.
“It runs on a Cisco Cloud, pull information from WiFi, cellular and small calls, and then presents [the information to the service providers] in a highly visual dashboard” that can be configured in whatever way bests suits them, he said.
Such capabilities are going to become increasingly important as the number of devices connecting to these networks continues to ramp, the Internet of things (IoT) balloons and access to faster broadband networks grows. Cisco officials pointed to the company’s latest Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Traffic Forecast, released last month, that shows that global mobile traffic will grow 10-fold over the next five years, due in large part to more powerful devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.
In this environment, WiFi networks will become increasingly important, particularly as they’re asked to handle that is offloaded from already heavily burdened cellular networks. Overall, the amount of annual mobile traffic is expected to grow from 30 exabytes in 2014 to 292 exabytes by 2019.
Cisco’s Mobility IQ benefits not only network operators by giving them a single vision of their entire network, including identifying problems that need to be addressed, but also marketing professionals, who can use the information to ensure the delivery of the right service at the right time. Businesses also will be able to gain insight from their service providers’ use of Mobility IQ about their own end users.
Managed services increasingly will be important to service providers, according to Robert Barlow, director of marketing at Cisco, noting that the global managed services market is expected to grow from $44 billion last year to $62 billion in 2018. Some of that growth will come from being able to bring these services to smaller businesses, he said. Traditionally it was too costly to bring such services as VPN or collaboration to SMBs.
Now, with these services residing in software, the cost barriers are lessened, Barlow told eWEEK.
Cisco Expands Analytics, NFV Solutions for Service Providers
Also at the MWC, Cisco officials will talk about the vendor’s efforts around network-functions virtualization (NFV) for service providers. A number of telecommunications service providers will be on hand at the show to talk about working with Cisco in delivering virtual managed services.
In a post on the company blog, Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales, wrote about the vendor’s years-long effort—which included reworking Cisco’s internal workings to be able to more rapidly develop new technologies and services—to enable service providers to more quickly develop and deploy their own services.
“What I’m really excited about is going way beyond NFV building blocks (which, for the record, will number 80+ by year’s end) to delivering the profitable business outcomes that are our customers’ top priority,” Lloyd wrote. “I’m talking about service providers being able to rapidly roll-out on-demand VPN services to small and medium businesses—a massive market opportunity. I’m talking about enabling providers—with a few clicks—to create, automate and deliver a multitude of new connectivity services that save customers money and time, all delivered with amazingly simple end-user experiences.”
Cisco has built up its NFV capabilities, both through in-house development and acquisitions, such as Tail-f Systems last year. Cisco’s Virtualized Managed Business Services solution “combines the industry’s richest portfolio of homegrown virtualized network functions with the user experience of the Meraki Managed Cloud,” he wrote. “It incorporates innovations conceived by Cisco as part of the OpenDaylight Linux Foundation collaborative project and couples them to the service orchestration capability acquired from Tail-F and a new end-user portal we created to deliver outstanding customer experiences.”
Lloyd also noted that Cisco’s revamped internal development efforts enable the company to build the solution—from conception to the first shipment to a customer—in six months.