Let’s not mince words: Cisco sells routers. Cisco sells a great many IP things but you’ve probably heard: Cisco sells routers. While Cisco has a massive portfolio of solutions and an M&A; trail that would make any MBA blush, the Starent deal is straight pool.
Mobile core in the side pocket.
Much of the analysis so far has been lacking in examination of the longer game that mobile represents. Like straight pool, the mobile market and the prized core network that will connect it all form the basis of a longer game.
Equally important to note is the mobile market as a world market and not one limited to North America. Mobile is about world wide growth and capturing the larger mind share of those taking heat as apologists and those wishing to innovate around the competition.
Just take one look at the CTO of AT&T; becoming an apologist and you quickly realize this isn’t a knee jerk upgrade path for mobile carriers. It’s not as if sticking in bigger boxes and adding bigger circuits now will solve the problems (perceived or otherwise) for everyone other than Verizon. That all takes time. Recall the AOL and Steve Case commercials back in the days of dialup ISP? The similarities are stark.
We’ve seen Navini trotted out as an example of Cisco turning away from WiMAX. What? This is mixing up things in terms of the routing capability and the access layer capability of wireless systems. It’s confusion for those that seek to understand how these companies, boxes, and bits ultimately fit together.
Starent gives Cisco instant access to the routing concerns, pains, hopes, dreams, desires, and roadmap expectations that will translate into a sales pipeline in mobile. More importantly, Cisco takes the Starent ball off the pool table.
While Juniper is mentioned, it is debatable that they have any play left outside of a piecemeal strategy such as putting together a wicked combination shot:
2G/3G optimization for 2G/3G on PDH via Force10 (Turin)
Purpose build packet optical transport via Cyan Optics
any number of applications or DPI enhancements for walled garden and billing integration platforms
In short, a much riskier shot to pull off cleanly… without scratching.
Cisco has called their shot and will continue to control the pool table until they foul.
While it might be tempting to call it evil… or stifling innovation… it’s not dirty pool. It just means that the game continues in the series of games.