Commentary
5/22/2007
01:21 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
Commentary

How Do We Get To The World Of Seamless Mobility?

Mobility continues to dominate the agenda here at Interop. John Chambers electrified the crowd this morning with his vision of a new mobile workforce, while yesterday Avaya, Citrix, a



Mobility continues to dominate the agenda here at Interop. John Chambers electrified the crowd this morning with his vision of a new mobile workforce, while yesterday Avaya, Citrix, and others launched new solutions with mobility at the forefront. That's all great, but I'll ask the same question I asked yesterday: How will all of this proposed mobility work when the wireless carriers don't seem ready to cooperate?Let's take a look at the vaguery. As my colleague Rick Martin pointed out about Chambers' keynote this morning:

"Command and control is not the future," Chambers said. "Group innovation and collaboration and presence is the future. ... This is about innovation, the next wave."

That's fair enough, but Chambers was short on not only controversy but specifics, particularly about the new "mobility vision." Saying you evolve a business hierarchy into a blended version of the two models -- command/control and group innovation -- is not really immediately useful to IT pros who are making day-to-day decisions on the fly. Chambers talked more about what Cisco is doing internally (growing emerging market revenue at 42% a year while preserving margins comparable to developed markets, for instance) than about how it's going to enable growth and change for its customers.

So, how does Cisco plan to get us to this world of seamless mobility? Is it going to make the carriers open their networks and make all the smartphone makers embrace open standards?

My real beef with this notion of seamless mobility -- i.e., the workers who can use their smartphones on campus through the WLAN, go on the road with 3G, and then roam to another WLAN -- is that no one seems capable of making this vision a reality. Frankly, this scenario is next to impossible with the current level of wireless carrier service. It's not that we don't have the technology, we just don't have enough openness. And while the carriers talk about offering dual-mode access and catering more to business users, there hasn't been much action.

Vendors seem eager to offer these services, but they seem scared of annoying the carriers for fear of losing their business, so no one ever rocks the boat.

Well, I am sorry, but it's time to raise some ruckus. If we don't, there won't be any seamlessly mobile future, and we will risk making the current generation of business mobility every bit as big a flop as the first wave mobile enterprise six years ago.

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