Mobile as the Foundation for Enterprise Innovation

October 31, 2014

Smartphones have been unprecedented in their impact on a wide range of consumers, from individuals to global enterprises. When coupled with mobile networks for ubiquitous coverage and capacity, smartphones have the ability to commoditize innovation. What is “commoditized innovation”? Very simply, it’s a concept that can be developed, at a relatively low cost, into an application and be shared globally in a rapid manner.

Commoditized innovation share these common factors:

  • Low cost mobile devices: Manufacturing volume drives down unit costs.
  • Apple iOS and Google Android platforms: Devices and associated App stores reach all corners of the globe.
  • Mobile Software developers and open development environments: The pool of global talent that can build Apps is very large and diverse.
  • Mobile Services: These low cost services are embedded in the mobile operator’s network, and have uses in both personal and business App roles.
  • Mobile Networks: Mobile operators reach all corners of the globe with their networks, meeting their subscribers indoor and outdoor coverage and capacity needs.

The Sun is Setting for Proprietary Communications Services

In many industrial and commercial environments, there can be numerous layers of communications technology like VHF/UHF walkie-talkies, pagers, VoIP handsets or badges, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other purpose built technology. Plus, each technology has an RF transmission medium that has it’s own coverage footprint within the facility they are used in, each footprint may cover all or part of the facility, and they all may be owned and managed by different departments.

This mix of communications technologies are impairments to innovation and, when the employees look at their smartphones, they believe that their existing communications technologies fall short of what they use in their personal lives. The impairments to innovation are numerous, but all of them revolve around failing to achieve economies of scale such that innovation is either impossible or too expensive to accomplish.

Innovation impairments include things such as:

  • High unit costs for the personal technology because the supplier makes 10’s of thousands, where a mobile handset supplier makes 10’s of millions.
  • Many of the personal technologies are single function. Just voice, paging or data. And there is no market demand for a higher function device at the price point that has to be charged to recover manufacturing costs.
  • With multiple RF mediums in-house, there is no easy way to improve indoor signals for all employee devices. Each one has to be uniquely dealt with, if at all.
  • There may be significant personnel overhead in “shadow IT”. “Shadow IT” are people who are performing an IT role (in this case, Telecom) who report to and are funded by a department.
  • Software developers, SDK’s, and other tools to do software innovation and integrate these proprietary systems into the back office IT systems that operate the business, are either not available or prohibitively expensive.

Mobile Platforms to the Rescue

Envision these same industrial and commercial environments with an RF environment that, in addition to global coverage, reaches every part of the facility (bring on the Small Cell technology!). Then add in common handset families (iOS and Android) that have a huge pool of off the shelf Apps, software developers and developer tools. It’s a recipe for innovation because these ecosystems conquer the economies of scale problem as they were always conceived – to scale to Billions of mobile devices.

Mobile innovation is fuelled by:

  • Low costs, high function personal technology in the form of smartphones and tablets.
  • The incumbent smartphone features, public Apps,and privately developed Apps with back office integration enable all employees to have much more power and information at their fingertips, along with fast access to any employee that they have to contact.
  • With a single RF medium in-house combined with Small Cell Networks, there IS an easy way to improve indoor signals for all employee devices.
  • All the funding allocated to “shadow IT” can be put to more productive use for the business.
  • Software developers, SDK’s and other tools to do software innovation and integration into the back office IT systems that operate the business are easily available and competitively priced.

Enterprise IT can best serve their employees and business units by consciously establishing a long-term innovation platform on mobile technology that enables the elimination of other legacy technologies that have inherent limitations that an individual enterprise cannot solve. The mobile platform approach, as it evolves over the next 5 years, will be become a competitive advantage for the enterprises that effectively embrace and exploit it. Mobility is the foundation for enterprise Innovation, if you let it be. Exciting times.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Part 1 of 5: Mobile Networks need to transform to handle large amounts of signalling and data traffic generated by smart devices inside the Enterprise

July 21, 2011

The advent of the Apple 3G iPhone and proliferation of wireless computing platforms are driving a new wave of mobile broadband service demands. Users are no longer satisfied with voice services only, and multimedia connectivity via mobile devices has become the new benchmark for every day interactions. As demand for multimedia interaction increases, the per-user bandwidth consumption also increases. The focus is no longer simply on improving mobile coverage for voice services; mobile operators need to find new ways to improve wireless capacity where end users consume mobile broadband services.

Existing mobile networks provide wide area services and broad geographic coverage outside, but suffer from the disadvantage that as the number of indoor subscribers increases, the overall network performance for all subscribers will experience degradation and compromised service quality. This degradation is accentuated when subscribers consume a lot of capacity while indoors at work. Serving high capacity indoor subscribers while maintaining or improving the quality of the network seen by outdoor subscribers is a significant challenge for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). With mobile data traffic doubling each year and currently representing 30% of the ARPU, MNOs need a viable, cost-effective and highly scalable indoor wireless system to penetrate enterprise segments to capture new customers, while improving the overall network capacity experience for all subscribers.

Limitations of existing technology solutions

Existing technology solutions range from the re-configuration of the macro cellular network and the addition of dedicated picocells, to the deployment of stand-alone femtocells designed primarily for residential use. These approaches do not scale to the demands of an enterprise deployment for various reasons. The re-configuration of the macro cellular network or the addition of dedicated picocells (with or without Distributed Antenna Systems, known as DAS) are both commonly used methods for providing additional coverage with an emphasis on voice services. Both of these methods in essence copy the existing macro network and direct it towards, or physically move it indoors. The decision for the mobile operator regarding which method to use is largely influenced by cost of deployment. The picocell approach requires that the same installation, commissioning and optimization procedures be applied, with some installations further requiring the use of DAS to meet indoor voice coverage requirements. DAS systems are essentially static deployments and any changes, such as adding or moving antennas to address new customer needs, are costly and complex. Although both approaches help address coverage issues, they are not scalable, do not solve the voice and data capacity issues and are costly on a per-square foot and per point of presence (PoP) comparison. Moreover they do not offer any benefits in terms of local data off-loading or reducing cost of backhaul links as all traffic still needs to be routed through the operator’s core.

An alternative approach is the use of multiple stand-alone femtocells or Femto Access Points (FAPs). Femtocells are low capacity network elements designed primarily for residential use. For the enterprise, a different and more scalable architecture is needed. There are many parallels to the use of femtocells with the issues encountered with the introduction of Wi-Fi into the enterprise: seamless handoff, scalability, security, RF interference mitigation and management, just to name a few. The requirements of licensed spectrum are stringent and the use of a mobile network operator’s spectrum requires a different set of features and a highly scalable architecture.

SpiderCloud Wireless has created an Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) class of systems for the delivery of cellular broadband services for the “Era of Capacity” for scalable enterprise deployments. The SmartCloud® architecture is a new system to enable this process of delivering targeted capacity at the point of demand and consumption –constructing the networks of the future “inside-out”. SpiderCloud Wireless is founded on the premise that without a centralized “controller-based” architecture, small cells deployed inside cannot scale to meet either the capacity and coverage needs of medium and large enterprises or the operator requirements in the context of manageability and core network integration.

Mobile Networks need to transform to handle large amounts of signalling and data traffic generated by smart devices inside the Enterprise. In the following blogs we’ll discusses the technical advantages of the E-RAN system architecture and highlight the limitations in deployments of current indoor cellular solutions.

Tassos Michail
Director of Product Management


Before you know it, the Future is here

July 21, 2011

When we were kids and watched Star Trek on TV the idea of the ‘communication screen’ was pretty amazing. “Put it on viewer,” Captain Picard (or Kirk, depending on how old you are) would say. It made for great TV.

Cellular technologies have come a long way since the first Motorola phones. Just last month Samsung premiered the Galaxy S that can shoot 720p video. In other words, HD-quality video in your pocket. Keep this in mind: The great majority of TV sets in peoples’ homes around the world make use of a lower-resolution than the Galaxy S. With a 5 megapixel camera, the image resolution is much higher quality than some of the $5,000 professional cameras available less than a decade ago. How about that for living in the future?

Most phones these days contain microprocessors that outpace the computers of yesteryear. For example—the iPhone’s processor is faster than most of the original Pentium 2 processors that powered your first dial-up experiences onto the Internet. Digital wristwatches are about as powerful as the room-sized computer that landed two men on the moon. When it comes to memory, most basic phones now have more portable memory than an IBM mainframe from the 1980s (which required a 1,000 square feet to house it all). The IBM 3090 had 64 and 128 megabytes of central storage, respectively. In 1985, the purchase price of a Model 200 was $5 million.

Which brings us to video. Yes, that’s possible too, and it’s just matter of months before video IM is in the hands of the first adopters (aka ‘the techies’).

More and more smartphones are supporting live video apps, and as networks get smaller, more targeted, go inside, become faster, and more robust, we’ll become empowered to connect face-to-face from anywhere in the world. Point in case: Cisco recently released an iPhone app of its popular WebEx videoconferencing software. With smartphones and Skype capabilities, all we need is a two-way camera function (oh yes, that’s coming too). Of course, the possibilities are endless. If you’re on a business trip, you could still see a live stream of your kids’ soccer game and cheer them on from the road. Or, if you happen to be ‘on-location’ when something big happens, you can just “beam it up to Scotty” (or CNN).

The bottom line is that ‘communication screen’ is no longer in the domain of science fiction and handheld videoconferencing is going to be pretty common in the near future. Cisco forecasts that “Almost 64 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2013. Mobile video will grow at a CAGR of 150 percent between 2008 and 2013.

The only question is: how will you use video communication as part of your daily life?

SpiderCloud will be speaking at Interop as part of the “Advanced Technologies: What’s Next for Wireless and Mobile?” panel taking place 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. PDT on Thursday, April 29 in Room 12 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The panel will be moderated by Tim Scannell, editorial director for TechnologyGuide.com, TechTarget.

Ronny A. Haraldsvik
Vice President of Marketing