By Mark Long / CIO Today. Updated March 28, 2012.
In a move to bolster the tools offered to broadband service providers, Cisco Systems said Wednesday it acquired ClearAccess, which provides cloud-based management for home networks. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The management and software capabilities of the ClearAccess 2.4 platform will become part of Cisco's network management software portfolio, which is known as Cisco Prime.
"We acquired ClearAccess to enable service providers to better manage the multitude of connected devices," a Cisco spokesperson said Wednesday. "Mobile is part of that equation, but not the entire story."
"ClearAccess provides a critical technology that will advance Cisco's mission to offer service providers a complete set of tools to manage their networks, within the home and across any connected device, amid the ongoing proliferation in network traffic," said Cisco Systems Vice President Jamie Lerner.
ClearAccess' technology is expected to help Cisco Systems to accelerate the company's development of software architectural advancements in the areas of mobility, cloud and managed devices, and video.
Reducing Mobile Traffic
One acquisition aim is to offer broadband service providers a complete set of tools for managing the connected home -- including monitoring and managing bandwidth usage, parental controls, diagnostics and analytics. Another goal is to help mobile network operators reduce data traffic congestion.
ClearAccess' software technologies are expected to complement Cisco's Videoscape architecture for mobile devices, which is designed to help service providers deliver the video resolution and frame rate that best matches the particular mobile device destined to receive it.
"By reducing the traffic at the edge, it helps to relieve some of the congestion going through the network," said Cisco SP Mobility Marketing Manager Jim O'Leary.
For service providers, the traffic reduction capabilities of mobile management architectures such as Videoscape will grow even more important over the next few years. According to O'Leary, for example, video content is forecast to exceed 70 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2016.
Given the proliferation of mobile devices entering the workspace, Cisco sees ClearAccess' management and software capabilities as a mobile asset for business professionals -- "especially for SOHO workers," a company spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
A recent Cisco global survey of college students and young professionals demonstrates that younger job applicants and workers are particularly concerned about having the ability to use the mobile device of their choice -- "even more than salary, flexible device and tele-work arrangements matter to young prospective employees, said Cisco Marketing Manager Janet Lyons, in a blog post.
Tools for Broadband Providers
On the broadband side of the market, the ClearAccess 2.4 platform is designed to enable service providers to automatically activate subscribers and their remote consumer premise equipment as well as generate new incremental revenue streams. Moreover, the technology provides service providers with greater visibility into "unmanaged" devices at the IP level, Cisco said.
ClearAccess 2.4, which combines a TR-069 management system with a flexible applications engine, includes cloud-based home network management tools and services for enhancing the broadband customer experience. The new platform also will give service providers the means for offering and delivering new consumer apps.
With ClearAccess 2.4, the ultimate goal is to help service providers reduce their support costs as customer churn rates. For example, the company's platform delivers the requisite tools for helping consumers cope with various home networking issues related to firewalls and Wi-Fi as well as other basic broadband connectivity problems involving devices in the home.
Cisco's acquisition of ClearAccess is expected to close in the company's fourth business quarter, at which time the ClearAccess software development team will be integrated into Cisco's network management technology group. By contrast, the hardware side of ClearAccess' business will become an independent company to be known as SmartRG Inc.