Cisco Adds Collaboration To Wireless, Mobility Play

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking powerhouse on Tuesday debuted its "Collaboration In Motion" initiative, a collection of products and services that leverage the network to deliver collaboration capabilities through mobile and wireless solutions.

Collaboration in Motion ties together products and services from Cisco WebEx, Cisco Unified Communications, Cisco Unified Wireless Networks and Cisco Advanced Services product lines. The goal, said Chris Thompson, Cisco's senior director of mobility solutions, was to remove the latency caused by distance and time to enable the network and the applications that run on it to cross boundaries.

"Collaboration pares down the barriers of distance and time," he said, adding that Collaboration in Motion looks to bridge the gaps between the on-premises wired network, off-premises cellular network and the premises Wi-Fi network with a new set of devices, a new wireless platform, new applications, new technology partners and a new set of professional services. Altogether, the technologies work together to unlock collaboration from any workspace.

For the channel, Thompson said Cisco's new mobility and wireless offerings will lead to new deals.

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"There's a world of opportunity for the channel," he said. "They can bring the collaborative story to customers and turn that into a business opportunity."

First, Cisco unveiled a new wireless network platform, rounding out its 802.11n Wi-Fi offerings to incorporate new access points, controllers and management while also exposing network services through an open API.

The new platform includes the 5500 Series Wireless Controller, which is optimized for 802.11n networks to deliver video and rich media collaborative applications and boost performance over Cisco's previous generations of controllers. The 5500 is built as a replacement for the 4400 Series Wireless Controller, can support up to 250 access points and thousands of clients with line-rate security.

Cisco also updated its Wireless Control System (WCS) wireless management platform, enhancing the user interface to simplify how information is accessed. The interface now offers historical trending and reporting and enables widget-like customization.

In addition, Cisco launched the Aironet 1524 SB Mesh Access Point for added scalability to extend wireless coverage across a variety of indoor and outdoor workspaces.

The new OfficeExtend solution, which complements the Cisco Virtual Office Portfolio of teleworking solutions, extends the corporate wireless network to remote locations, delivering wireless data, voice and video services to mobile employees. Thompson said OfficeExtend works with Cisco's Aironet 1130 and 1140 Series access points and the 5500 Series Wireless Controller to deliver wireless connectivity at home or on the road.

Cisco also unveiled the Cisco 3310 Mobility Services Engine, a SMB platform that supports existing mobility services, including context-aware and adaptive wireless IPS, and interfaces via an open API for third-party mobility applications.

On the devices side, Cisco launched WebEx Meeting Center version 1.2 for the Apple iPhone. Expanding on version 1.0 of WebEx for the iPhone, the updated application enables the host to schedule meetings and invite attendees before and during the meeting from an iPhone. The application is available as a free download in Apple's App Store.

Cisco also evolved the Cisco Compatible Extensions Program (CCX) to adapt to the changing device landscape. The new program modularizes features into four services: foundation, management, collaboration and context-aware to let device manufacturers, including Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, Intermec, Nokia, Polycom, Summit DataCom and Texas Instruments, select only the service that is relevant for the specific device for certification.

Along with new wireless gear and device advancements, Cisco also launched new applications for network assurance, PCI compliance and wireless video surveillance. Working with technology partners, Cisco is opening up an API to let those partners bring applications to the market. For network assurance, Cisco is working with ArcSight, RSA and NetScout, which are adding new capabilities using the Cisco Mobility Services Engine. The application integrates location information from the Mobility Services Engine with security and network performance correlation engines to identify and resolve security and network performance events. Cisco's new wireless PCI solutions leverage Cisco's Adaptive Wireless IPS, and Cisco's new video-surveillance applications use the Cisco Unified Wireless Network and IP networks to support Cisco IPS' own video-surveillance gear, along with cameras from Pelco and Sony.

To accommodate the growing wireless and mobility landscape, Cisco on Tuesday also revealed a trio of new professional services to help in the design and deployment of wireless networks to accelerate ROI and reduce TCO. The 802.11n Readiness Assessment Service helps users evaluate the current state of devices and existing networks and align their business objectives with network architectures before deploying a Wi-Fi network; the Mobility Services Readiness Assessment Service helps users evaluate real-time collaboration applications like voice and video, and offers recommendations to ensure those applications are optimized on the wireless network; and new Planning and Design Services evaluate the unique physical characteristics of every deployment so coverage and security is guaranteed.

Finally, Cisco launched a new cross-technology developer community to enable technology partners to build applications that leverage the network platform. The Cisco Developer Network Program is a community to simplify and speed the development of mobility solutions between Cisco and its partners. The program also includes solution verification, which lets users know it has been preintegrated and will work on Cisco's network.

Chris Kozup, Cisco senior manager of mobility solutions, said the new mix of devices, applications, services and platforms, will help the channel unlock applications in the customer environment, while also helping them decrease costs through collaboration.

"To be effective, partners have to deliver on the wireless platform and offer new technologies," he said. "Collaboration is front and center for many customers."