Cisco Snags Scientific Atlanta, Lays Out Vision for IP TV

With the purchase of Scientic Atlanta complete, Cisco hopes to deliver to service providers and carriers the platform for a variety of IP TV services.

Cisco Systems on Feb. 28 outlined its vision for Scientific Atlanta a day after its mega-acquisition closed, but product integration roadmaps wont follow for another couple of months.

In one of its largest acquisitions to date, Cisco is going after service providers who are ultimately building next-generation applications for the consumer market.

The traditional enterprise networking giant, although not a stranger to the consumer market, will be charting unfamiliar waters in its bid to become a leader in consumer-focused IP TV.

Despite the challenges, Cisco officials believe that the company can deliver to service providers and carriers the next-generation platform required to create a range of different IP TV services.

Demand for such services is being fueled by the rise of more active entertainment, the connected home and more varied user experiences with access devices and services.

By leveraging the combined expertise of Cisco with IP, home networks with Ciscos Linksys unit and now video, "we can deliver a better user experience with a platform to support many services to many screens," said Paul Sanchirico, senior director of video and IP TV Network Systems Group at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.

In Ciscos vision, there are five architectural elements required to deliver next-generation services that improve the user experience.

Those include the connected home, where Cisco can now offer home gateways, routers and now set top boxes with Scientific Atlanta. The second element is the network; the third is the video head end, provided by Scientific Atlanta with satellite receivers, encoders and digital content managers.

The fourth is a video control infrastructure and the fifth is Business Support Systems/Operational Support Systems. For BSS/OSS, Cisco intends to partner with systems integrators such IBM Global Services and Accenture.

Such architectural elements must be linked to insure that problems for latency-sensitive video applications are avoided when demand on over-subscribed links exceeds available bandwidth, according to Sanchirico.

Matching Ciscos vision with a roadmap and timetable for integration wont come until late spring or early summer.

"Its going to take time to map it all out in a solid way. If they had a solid map right now, Id wonder. Scientific Atlanta is a big company with a lot of products," said Deb Mielke, principal at Treillage Network Strategies Inc. in Dallas.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about Ciscos recent strategy shift.

"Cisco people are still learning what Scientific Atlanta has. But at least Cisco knows where theyre going. At least everybody says the same thing," she added.

But whether Cisco can effectively apply its acquisition integration skills to such a large acquisition remains to be seen.

"Cisco is good at making the people feel comfortable, and thats the biggest asset. They retain the people. I think thats another big plus for them, even though theyre eating a big fish," she said.

That big fish in the last year generated revenues of just under $2 billion, according to Bob McIntyre, CTO at Scientific Atlanta in Atlanta.

Beyond product integration, the acquisition offers new channel opportunities for the combined entity.

"It gives Scientific Atlanta a new distribution point for their products. Instead of relying solely on cable providers/carriers, it lets them attack new markets in concert with the Linksys channel," Mielke said.

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