The State of Cisco Wireless at Cisco Live 2022

CiscoLive 2022 is just around the corner, and we are ready to welcome everybody back to the annual in-person gathering with some of the world’s biggest nerds. While technology, innovation, and buzz words will be rolling as smoothly as the Vegas dice, there are a couple of things I’m keeping my eye on.

Why Go to Cisco Live?

I took the jump to attend CiscoLive this year to understand more about what the future of wireless looks like for Cisco. There are exciting things that have been happening over the last year, and being able to have one on one conversations and see the products and product managers in person, as well as participate in an incredible Tech Field Day Extra, is what led me to punch the register now button.

The State of Cisco 5G

There’s a lot of talk from everyone about what they can do with 5G, and there’s no shortage of it when it comes to Cisco. They make a slew of products for every part of the 5G ecosystem, but what I am most interested in is their announcement of the 5G Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) they dropped earlier in the year.

Since they announced it, and after Amazon made their announcement in 2021, I’ve been curious to see if there has been any feedback or press on it, any use cases they’re trumpeting, and what the overall success is.

Cisco+ and 5G NaaS

Here’s the thing, I think Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is one of the strongest offerings that any organization can offer moving into the future. Cisco announced Cisco+ last year at CiscoLive to launch their Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offerings centered mainly around security and hybrid cloud. In February, they started to push the OT vs. IT messaging into wireless and introduced Private 5G packaged as 5G as a Service. Same story as others here: consumption-based, OPEX model, low to no cost to get started, they take care of all of it, etc. It’s exciting to me (what it means for IT jobs is a great topic for a round table .. and whisky!)

I see a great opportunity for managed service providers and operators to capitalize on the innovation of technology like advanced Wi-Fi through Wi-Fi6E and Wi-Fi7 through 5G, and around IoT, specifically using Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), as opposed to that archaic process of actually purchasing any hardware and software. I think this represents the next shift in how customers will change from consuming content to blurring the line between content and services.

Why do I think NaaS is so strong, specifically in wireless communications? Because as technology gets more complicated through innovative features, frequencies, coordinations, deployments, and support, you have large enterprises and small businesses alike moving more towards a “just make it work” mentality, rather than investing in the people and service plans to get up and running. I’ve said it time and time again: end-users and CTOs don’t care what frequency their device is using, what its channel size is, what modulation scheme it’s using, or why color codes are important. They don’t have the time, desire, or capacity to take all of that in, nor do they want to. People want it to work, and they want it to be easy. If a NaaS provider can do that, send the invoice.

If Cisco follows in the footsteps of companies like HPE, which has been making serious waves with Green Lake, they can take all the lessons learned from my buddy Antonio’s push to have everything literally as a service. A few years in, and they’re showing great success with storage and compute, and I can’t wait to see what other companies can do with it as well!

Cisco+ and Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) have the opportunity to drastically change the landscape when it comes to system integrators, resellers, distribution, and more. Managed service providers can embrace this and drive their revenues up while taking advantage of opportunities like Cisco+ and Cisco’s 5G as a service. I’m curious to see if they double down on it at Cisco Live, start producing some great reseller models, and what the specifics of that look like.

Learn more about Cisco 5G Network-as-a-Service on Cisco Champions Radio Season 9, Episode 15 with Ian Campbell and Jonathan Mahady:

That new industrial AP

Let me be clear; I really dislike the idea of anything being called “ultra-reliable.” I vented about it when it first came out, so instead of referring to it as Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul, I’ll just use their acronym, CURB. CURB is a technology that rewinds me like a VHS tape back to the old-school meshing days, but with a new twist. After the acquisition of FluidMesh, it seems like Cisco took the best of that technology and integrated it into other parts of Cisco wireless.

The quick explanation of CURB is that it creates multiple paths to network resources and facilitates high-seed handoff at the radio device level to seamlessly maintain session persistence across mobile deployments. Less than 10ms latency, massive amounts of throughput (they claim 7.8 Gbps), and zero packet loss. Lots of great marketing statistics.

This new access point, the Cisco Catalyst Industrial Wireless (IW) 9167, combines the CURB technology with Wi-Fi6 and Wi-Fi6E into one package. This is another deep lean into the OT vs. IT mentality (think about Operational Technology or OT as the foundation for how devices get business done vs. IT or Information Technology as moving data to and from people.) The IW9167 gives you both. OT on the backhaul and BLE for device interfaces and OT + IT via Wi-Fi6E on the device and user-facing radios.

I was hoping to see some LoRA included in it and maybe an option for 5G backhaul because that would just be the icing on the cake.

I’m not sure who specifically the market is geared towards with this radio or device, I guess since it has multiple radios, but mining vehicles, trains, buses, and so on are the first things that come to mind. I’m not necessarily a fan of using something like this for point-to-multipoint microwave comms, although that’s one of the things that they say they’re great out. I just know what the cost of that equipment is, and compared to someone like Cambium or even Ubiquiti, you’re paying a premium to solve a problem that could be easily taken care of by another more purpose-built piece of equipment.

That being said, we’ve got a ton of federal funding flowing into communities, so I would imagine there are salespeople out there who will convince some communities to stick these in parks, on street light poles, or across the city. It could be a use case for some really cool results of lighting up immediate hotspots, but man, it’d be expensive.

So, yeah, I’m excited. I think it’s gonna be great.

Overall I think CiscoLive is gonna be great this year. Reconnecting with people, the vendor, the Cisco ecosystem, and the crew at Tech Field Day is gonna be awesome. Being in the same room with people always leads to incredible conversation and problem-solving. I’m really looking forward to it.

The obvious huge elephant in the room is Dave Matthew’s band. Just kidding; definitely not a fan … plus I hear FLO RIDA is gonna be at another private vendor party that same week!! Shawties gonna get low low low low low low low low. haha

If you’re at CiscoLive and want to chat about wireless, drop me a note on social media @wirelessnerd and come meet up!

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