Mobile Growth Portends Channel Opportunity

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Cisco's predictions about the incoming wave of mobile traffic and mobility demands paints a picture of what the channel will look like in the next coming years. If partner's aren't gearing up for the cloud services market, the infrastructure technology space will be the next big space to demand trusted advisors.

Cisco_mobile_dataCisco Systems Inc. recently offered a long list of predictions based on a study on the future of mobility and mobile traffic from 2012 into 2017.  In short, it's going to be a challenge. Cisco predicts that more than half of cell traffic will need to be off-loaded to fixed connections or Wi-Fi networks, and 4G connectivity will account for 10 percent of all concurrent connections in 2017.

To meet the increasing demands on infrastructure from mobile devices, in both internal and external networks, the channel will be called to action. This will present a major opportunity for channel partners well versed in infrastructure hardware but also highly knowledgeable about the latest software technologies that will fuel the management and automation of  bare metal. Here are Cisco's biggest predictions alongside the channel-centric industries that represent the looming opportunity.

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  • Smartphones, laptops and tablets will create 93 percent of mobile traffic by 2017, with 10 billion mobile device connections: The general consensus has been that IPv6 doesn't matter. It lives on as a check-box feature that is needed for the future, but IPv6 on its own isn't necessarily a revenue generator or a business model -- but that is likely to change. 10 billion mobile device connections represent a very real expiration of traditional IPv4 numbers. Many mobile devices are IPv6 ready now and by 2017, carriers will have no choice but to use IPv6. Even if IPv6 connections are not in demand for internal networks, the management of external connections by 2017 will require -- at the very least -- translators and hybrid IPv4/6-ready appliances at the network edge. 
  • The average smartphone connection speed will reach an average of 6.5 Mbps by 2017: For cloud service providers that run either a local or hosted data center, faster mobile devices mean more frequent and regular usage of cloud services. To support that growing demand, providers must manage that traffic. F5 Networks recently kicked off a top-tier channel program built around their application delivery optimization technology, exactly the kind of solutions needed to support this demand.
  • Close to 50 percent of mobile traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi or hard lines by 2017, reaching 9.6 exabytes per month: Two key technologies will help support this impending load: optimization and software-defined networking (SDN). Optimization capabilities are hardly new, but the predicted rise in need meshes well with virtualized networking appliances from companies like Riverbed Technology Inc., alongside storage-based WAN optimization from companies like Dell Compellent. Once that data is crunched, it needs a place to go, which is where SDN comes in. While SDN is still relatively nacent, it's becoming a technology hard to ignore, especially if massive bare-metal systems are to hum along autonomously. To capitalize on this, Cisco has rolled out more SDN-capable offerings while rivals like Juniper Networks Inc., have bet the future of the company on it.

Like many things in the channel, the opportunity is there, but partners need to reach out and grab it. While it's easier said than done, Cisco's study offers a very practical reason to look at existing business models and uncover breathing room to adopt next-generation strategies and technologies. It's a small first step that can open more doors and preparing for the mobile revolution today will avoid costly catch up in the future.

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