Cisco today moved to take wireless networking to another level by striking alliances with providers of mobile computing device chipsets that more tightly integrate those devices with Cisco wireless networks.
According to Prashanth Shenoy, senior marketing manager in the Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networking Group, the overall goal is to not only increase the quality of the end-user experience, but also give enterprise IT organizations more control over that experience.
To that end, Cisco is also adding location services and analytic features to the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) that are based on technologies the company recently gained with the acquisition of ThinkSmart Technologies. Cisco MSE will now be embedded inside mobile computing devices from chipsets manufactured by Qualcomm, which Shenoy says will give enterprise IT organizations greater ability to analyze traffic patterns on their network. Armed with that information, an organization may then choose to adjust available bandwidth, or even send specific messages to a particular device based on the location of that user, says Shenoy.
Obviously, organizations will have to tread lightly when it comes to privacy. But Shenoy says the idea is to give IT organizations the same level of control over a wireless network that carriers can exercise today on a cellular network, which is a trend that Cisco collectively refers to as HotSpot 2.0. As part of the effort, Shenoy says that Cisco will expose the Cisco MSE engine to developers as part of a “Smarter Blue Dot” initiative via a series of open application programming interfaces and an associated software development kit.
The degree to which Cisco can enlist other providers of mobile computing chipsets to enlist in this effort remains to be seen. Cisco in recent years has been making a series of efforts to tightly couple 802.11 wireless networks with carrier networks. This move now looks to expand that effort to include the mobile computing devices themselves to create a set of capabilities that IT organizations can’t ignore. Of course, other providers of wireless networks are likely to pursue a similar path and there may even one day be standards in this area. But for the time being, Cisco is creating an ecosystem around its wireless technologies on a scale that is going to be difficult to match.