The Nexus of the Internet of Everything? It's in the Palm of Your Hand

On a typical day, we hold in our hands a portal to our civilization’s entire trove of information and entertainment — and a window into our finances, our health, and the lives of our friends. Not to mention, the ability to make a purchase anywhere and anytime the whim strikes us.

To say that our personal devices have become an integral part of our lives is a vast understatement. But get ready for an even bigger wave of change. Mobile is poised to become ever more ubiquitous. But the focus will be less on the device itself, and more on its role as a critical enabler in the connected world of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

IoE is the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. And those “things” are gaining an increasing ability to talk to one another — and orchestrate events on our behalf. In the expanding universe of connections that is IoE, your smartphones and tablets will find an accelerating number of things with which to interact. In turn, those mobile devices will evolve from simply holding our apps to becoming highly intelligent devices that enable us to communicate with all manner of things in exciting new ways.

Mobile will also be more defined by wireless, network-connected sensors. These cheap, ubiquitous sensors will be embedded in our everyday world — in objects, in our homes, in “wearables” attached to our clothing, and throughout our cities. The emergence of standardized ultra-low power wireless technology such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Cellular NFC, provide the ability to achieve data transfer between nodes and devices — the core connectivity that will enable IoE. Adidas, for example, offers a smart ball with a sensor that integrates with an iPhone to show information on the trajectory and speed of the ball.

Once our devices are connected to wearable technology, they can sense our mood, know our behaviors, then course correct in real time. At this year’s, Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Billie Whitehouse unveiled a GPS-enabled smart jacket that integrates with the mapping app on your phone. Type in a destination and the little vibrators built into the shoulder pads tap out directions for which way to turn.

But that is just one example. As the digital understanding of our behaviors, our moods, and our emotional involvement deepens, it will enable a new level of self-knowledge that will improve our productivity, health, and wellness. For example, Stress Tracker, created by a team of psychologists and researchers, tracks your moods and tensions and learns what makes you anxious. Google Now and the Sherpa personal assistant remember past behaviors to predict a user’s next move. With AutoPebble, you can automate your life from your wrist, and perform a multitude of daily tasks by simply changing the screen to align to your current location and time.

Meantime, some of the functionality once contained only in your mobile devices is shifting to a multitude of other devices and connection points. The Nest Learning Thermometer, for example, contains a sensor that monitors your home temperature but can be controlled through your mobile device. And Aloft smart check in lets you zoom into a hotel, right past the check-in counter. The hotel sends a message to your mobile device with your room number; then you simply touch your RFID-embedded loyalty card to the door, and it will unlock.

In effect, your phone is becoming the master controller, holding your preferences and profile while enabling access to data in real-time

In a retail setting, smart devices will detect wireless signals and receive content as you walk through the door, or even before. The store’s network will share offers and information on what services and products are available at that location at that time. And your phone will enable you to control the interaction, blocking unwanted solicitation and allowing you to choose whether you want to reveal your identity for a more personalized experience. Not all shoppers are comfortable with opting into a system that enables retailers to track their moves, even in exchange for value-added offers and services.

Over time, more data will be leveraged for predictive analytics, combining and analyzing data from various sources in order to anticipate your behaviors. This means, for example, that your local coffee shop could sync with your phone to know you are on your way — and start brewing a made-to-order beverage before you even arrive.

Combining data from all these sources will certainly pose challenges. For marketers, the challenge might be even greater: figuring out what provides the most value for customers. Early studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Business Review, have determined that the success of such real-time discounts depends on parameters like distance and time. If done well, however, such offers have the potential to truly delight customers.

Mobile’s ability to enable interaction with the connected world is driving disruption across a wide swatch of industries. And new business models are emerging at an ever-faster pace.

So, remember the mantra: disrupt or be disrupted. And start thinking about how mobile will transform your core value proposition.

Tags: Big Data, brand loyalty, Cisco, Cisco Consulting Services, innovation, Internet of Everything, internet of things, IoE, IoE Value Index, IoT, retail, value at stake

Running Out of Bandwidth? Take a Fresh Look at 100G

Today’s service provider customers expect more. Their customers have grown accustomed to the quick ramp-up speeds, flexibility, and personalization of services no matter how they connect. To stay competitive, service providers need to do more than just re-engineer their networks. Service providers need to rethink how they engage with their customers to meet their business needs.

  • That is easier said than done. Service providers already face enormous demands on their network and data center assets from exploding mobility, video, and cloud-based applications. We are now in the era of the Internet of Everything that will drive new metrics of scale never seen before. How can service providers reduce costs and improve efficiency and resource utilization, even as they expand their business for new revenue-generating services?
  • The Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP) is a comprehensive virtualization and orchestration software platform that creates, automates and provisions services in real time, across compute, storage and network functions, to deliver desired business outcomes for applications running across multiple domains and facilitates the shift to new business models. It allows service providers to deliver prepackaged services from a flexible pool of resources that can be reused and personalized for each customer, automatically and on demand. With the Cisco ESP, service providers can confidently automate innovative new cloud service offerings, efficiently harnessing their network and data center assets and helping to reduce their current operating expenses up to 45 percent, while accelerating new revenue growth at up to five times their current rates. This platform supports faster and more effective ways to facilitate agile business processes and innovation, for a better return on investments (ROI).
  • Many vendors are working on pieces of the overall solution that is needed, whether in the data center, the wide-area network, or in services orchestration. However, success will be defined by solutions like the Cisco ESP,which offers an important advantage: It can flexibly combine best-in-class capabilities from an open ecosystem of technologies from any vendor to deliver services in the ways that customers prefer. Imagine being able to respond to market opportunities with the business models you need and greatly reduce the total cost of capturing those
    new revenues.

Cisco Evolved Services Platform Overview

  • The Cisco ESP uses software-defined networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and advanced orchestration capabilities to forge a flexible and modular platform. With the Cisco ESP, service providers can quickly deploy new personalized offerings through services modules. Imagine offering prepackaged tiers of enterprise services with default features, security, and service-level agreements (SLAs), that customers can select from an online portal and activate with a click of a mouse. Service providers could engage their customers in new ways, allowing the customers to add new network services, upgrade to cloud digital video recording (DVR) in their home, or activate a new premium mobile broadband (PMB) service using a self-service platform that automatically provisions them in minutes.
  • The Cisco ESP allows all of this, making network services and applications easy to consume by providing the following essential functions (Figure 1):
  • Orchestration engine: This engine automates the creation, monitoring, and assurance of all required physical and virtual infrastructure, resources, and functions, when they are needed. It uses open APIs to connect applications to infrastructure, and it provides a common policy and unified subscriber management framework to deliver all services. The role of each service profile is to provide a comprehensive set of service attributes and policies linked through the orchestration engine that allows the operators to dynamically deliver personalized services
  • Catalog of virtual functions: This extensible and modular set of virtualized network and application capabilities links to services profiles to create the “offers” that can be deployed anywhere and scaled on demand.
  • Service broker: This element functions as the service provider’s storefront, translating business intent into actionable service initiation and chaining in the orchestration engine.

Figure 1. Cisco Evolved Services Platform Elements

  • Together, these elements remove many of today’s restrictions from your network and data center operations, and you gain a platform that is:
  • Open: It flexibly combines extensible best-in-class capabilities across a multivendor ecosystem accelerating innovation and fulfillment of personalized services.
  • Extensible: A comprehensive set of modular capabilities and prepackaged end-customer offers provides a powerful tool set, allowing operators to optimize their networks, and create and automate new services as business needs dictate.
  • Elastic: It dynamically scales existing services while optimizing network and data center assets, when and where they are needed.
  • The Cisco Evolved Services Platform acts on personalized service profiles, automating the programming and provisioning of virtualized services across the network and data center infrastructure. It can program any physical or virtual device through SDN controller software modules using open APIs. Cisco participates in OpenDaylight software development efforts and has contributed the SDN controller software to accelerate the open programming of network and data center infrastructure.
  • With these capabilities, Cisco ESP provides the platform to dynamically translate business intent into tangible services, on demand. It allows operators to respond to market opportunities with the business models they need, using capabilities that are easy to buy and deploy, creating services that are easy to consume and manage.

Flexible Deployment Models

  • Service providers can take advantage of the Cisco ESP in a number of ways, depending on their business needs (Figure 2). There are four possible deployment options:
  • Virtual functions: Service providers can choose from a wide array of individual software, hardware, and advanced services components, and they can integrate those that best complement their existing software and infrastructure to support their service deployment requirements. The virtualized functions are hardware- and hypervisor-independent, so they can operate on any general-purpose compute platform.
  • Orchestrated: This option combines selected virtualized functions and orchestration software modules that are “networked” together using standards-based “service chaining.” By prepackaging virtualized elements with orchestration, service providers can build and deploy new personalized offerings faster.
  • Turnkey “POD”: A complete turnkey and integrated service module, known as a “POD,” includes all the software, hardware, and associated advanced services required to deploy a particular service offering.
  • As a service: With this pay-as-you go model, Cisco integrates and operates the turnkey solution PODs as a cloud-based offering to support the specific services that service providers bring to market and sell to their customers.
Figure 2. Flexible Deployment Models

Capitalizing on Network Functions Virtualization

  • NFV is an essential capability for enabling new business models and cloud-based service offerings. Cisco is a leading member of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which is shaping the standards-based approach for NFV. The goal of NFV is to take network functions normally built into hardware and implement them in software on standardized compute platforms. Cisco has developed an extensive set of virtualized network functions (VNFs) across all technology domains. These VNFs are integrated into the Cisco Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) architecture, providing an elastic and flexible fabric that allows the real-time shifting of physical and virtual capabilities across the network and data center. The Cisco Evolved Services Platform aligns with the management and orchestration aspects of NFV to harness all of these networking capabilities as they are needed. The Cisco ESP helps to create business value efficiently automating service delivery on demand.

New Services Modules

  • Services modules play a central role in the ability of the Cisco ESP to transform service provider business models. In today’s environments, many services require a complex operation of hardware, management tools, and business processes. As a result, deploying new services often takes many months. Cisco ESP services modules provide prepackaged, end-customer solutions that can be turned up in minutes and scaled elastically, as business needs dictate. The modules also provide a unified, transparent services environment that allows service providers to collect and derive untapped business value with rich, real-time, and long-term analytics.
  • The following sections describe some of the new Cisco ESP services modules that may be deployed today.

Virtualized Mobile Internet

  • Many enterprise customers require high-performance wireless services with guaranteed low latency. These services are especially important in certain industry sectors, such as mining, transportation, oil, and public safety. Due to the nature of their deployment environments and applications, these customers would be well served by a private Long Term Evolution (LTE) radio network based on Cisco Virtual Packet Core software, combining macro and small-cell technologies, as illustrated in Figure 3. The solution’s self-organizing network (SON) technology, access network discovery and selection function (ANDSF), and policy software modules help ensure the highest quality and consistent service, along with seamless handoff between licensed and unlicensed small cells.
  • Drawing on the automation made possible by the platform’s virtualization and orchestration capabilities, Cisco ESP for virtualized mobile Internet can generate up to 43 percent operational cost savings for the operator compared to current solutions by reducing complexity and using fewer tools to deliver these services.

Figure 3. Virtualized Mobile Internet

  • In this example, the service request supported by Cisco ESP would proceed as follows:

1. The enterprise IT employee accesses the mobile service portal to request the virtualized mobile Internet offering from the active service catalog.
2. The service provider ships the required hardware and software modules to the enterprise site to be installed and provisioned.
3. The service provider uses the service orchestration software module to initiate the mobile Internet workflow.
4. The resource orchestration software modules automatically bring up the service on the Cisco Virtual Packet Core, based on the service profiles that provide the linkage to the associated mobile VNFs.
5. Small cells are deployed and the virtualized mobile Internet service is activated.

Multiscreen Cloud Digital Video Recording

  • Consumers want the freedom and flexibility to arrange their video content viewing around their own schedules, inside or outside the home. Service providers can meet this demand by using Cisco ESP to deliver Cisco Videoscape™ Multiscreen Cloud DVR Solution, as illustrated in Figure 4. The solution scales the ingestion, recording, management, and delivery of any type of content, over any network to any device, instead of requiring customers to use a physical DVR located in their homes.
  • Using the Cisco ESP for multiscreen cloud DVR delivers significant business advantages for the video operators, compared to the current deployment model. This solution helps operators increase revenues up to 7 percent from higher penetration rates. The Cisco Videoscapeämultiscreen cloud DVR solution is also easier to implement as a cloud-based “try and buy” offer along with tiered services. Service providers can also achieve TCO savings of up to 15 percent from shared pooling of resources, along with optimized content and streamer positioning made possible by real-time analytics, policy, and orchestration.

Figure 4. Cisco Videoscape Ô Multiscreen Cloud DVR

  • In this example, the Cisco ESP handles the subscriber request as follows:

1. A subscriber goes to the video service provider’s web portal and requests the addition of a Cloud DVR offering to his or her service tier.
2. “Check-out” action initiates the subscriber order.
3. Cisco ESP resource orchestration software automatically sets up the new service, based on the subscriber service profile, and links to the virtualized video applications and network functions.
4. The new Cloud DVR service menu is activated on the customer’s device user interface.
5. The subscriber may now record and view content from any device.
6. The subscriber schedules recording of a favorite show.
7. The Cloud DVR software queries the video cache and determines whether the user is authorized for local storage on their device or for cloud only.
8. As the scheduled recording occurs, the system verifies content rights and applies the appropriate content storage policy.
9. When the subscriber accesses a prerecorded show from any device, the video content streams from the closest location in the appropriate format.

Cisco Open Network Environment

  • The Cisco Open Network Environment is Cisco’s vision for an open, programmable framework that allows service providers to harness untapped network value, improve business agility, and simplify operations, while setting the stage for new business models, revenues, and profits. The Cisco ESP and the Cisco EPN foundation on which it runs, are based on this logical software framework, which uses standards-based SDN, NFV, and innovative service orchestration to bring the value of the network to the applications.
  • The Cisco Open Network Environment encompasses three functional layers, as illustrated in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Cisco Open Network Environment

  • The applications layer at the top represents end-user applications, as well as system applications, that service providers may use to provide additional business value to their consumer and enterprise customers. The Cisco ESP serves as the modular orchestration engine, which provides business logic and policy application software modules to automate service delivery, while optimizing the use of network and data center assets. The Cisco EPN architecture is the foundational layer that integrates the physical and virtual network and data center infrastructure across a flexible and elastic fabric. Standardized, open APIs create bidirectional feedback loops between and across these layers to simplify programming and accelerate innovation of new applications and services.

Why Cisco?

  • The Cisco ESP provides the essential capabilities that service providers need to expand their business models and accelerate time to revenue for new services. The platform is:
  • Easy to buy: The Cisco ESP provides flexible buying models packaged according to service provider needs that allows their services to be delivered in the way that their customers and subscribers want to consume them.
  • Easy to deploy: The Cisco ESP requires fewer tools and is based on entirely open interfaces to enable multi-vendor deployment.
  • Easy to sell: Cisco ESP automation and orchestration capabilities help simplify the creation of new services, accelerate the sales process, and improve time to market, while increasing revenue growth from personalized high-value services.
  • Easy to manage: Service providers using the Cisco ESP can dynamically shift application and service workloads between resources to reduce costs.

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Telstra Building the Foundation for Premium Cloud Services

Internet traffic in Australia is set to grow 3-fold from 2013 to 2017 according to the latest data from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI). However, if we “look behind the curtain” there is more to this story beyond just greater bandwidth demand as both consumers and enterprises are increasingly adopting cloud-based services. This move to the cloud provides a new opportunity for traditional service providers since they can uniquely combine network infrastructure and data center capacity to deliver premium cloud services with an SLA guarantee. Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, Telstra, has established itself as a trusted provider of cloud services, such as collaboration and management applications, to customers. They’re achieving this with a new architectural approach that enables a next generation Internet experience combining networks, data centers and applications together while ensuring resiliency, low-latency performance, and programmability.

Telstra recently announced extending partnership with Cisco to provide scale, innovation and improved global reach with a network that can manage multiple applications across hybrid, public cloud environments. The scale and intelligence of this cloud will provide the reliability and reach that Telstra customers demand. With cloud-ready capabilities such as providing service level assurance and dynamic network services for workloads and applications, business can now shift more to the cloud with confidence.

A key milestone in partnership was the inauguration of live traffic on Cisco’s Network Convergence System (NCS) 6000. With the Cisco NCS 6008 at the core of their network to provide the capacity and intelligence to allow customers to shift more workloads to the cloud with confidence, Telstra has led the industry in building a scalable and resilient programmable network. A network that can easily virtualize services, simplify and consolidate network layers and automate and provision services real-time across multiple domains. The Cisco NCS6008 underpins a new Evolved Programmable Architecture from Telstra that will see the network dynamically adjust to provide the required capacity and SLA for the application or service being delivered.

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