A few weeks ago, as part of the technology conference held in Santander, José Manuel Petisco remembered his early work in Sweden and the impressive transition our society is going through, riding on the development of new technologies that the head of Cisco Spain speaks about with real passion and, of course, with extensive knowledge
SCASC.- What is currently the biggest future challenge for Cisco?
JMP.- Our main challenge is to continue helping businesses and administrations to join the market transitions that are transforming the IT industry and accelerating the migration to a web-based economy quickly, easily and inexpensively. These transitions are the Cloud, mobility (including BYOD and Data in Motion), collaboration (including social networks), video and Big Data. All of these are based on intelligent IP networks and all fall within the new Internet phase we call Internet of Everything, where billions of connections between people, processes, data and connected objects (10,000 million today and a 50,000 million projected for 2020) turn information into actions that generate huge advancement opportunities for countries, companies and society. It is therefore a transition towards network-based IT and Cisco is at the centre of this transformation.
SCASC.- Do you think that we are witnessing the Third Industrial Revolution?
JMP.- Yes, without doubt, and it is a revolution facilitated by the Internet. We can distinguish four distinct phases in the history of the Internet, each with a greater effect on society and companies than its predecessor. First – Connectivity - comprising the first on-line connections, which were very limited in terms of speed, content and mobility. Second – the Connected Economy which resulted in e-Commerce, changing the way people buy products and services and reaching new markets. The third phase, in which we find ourselves today, is that of Immersive Experiences, dominated by social networks, collaboration, communication through video and unstoppable mobility, leading to a new way of working which is already consolidated in phenomena such as the Bring Your Own Device, Big Data and the Cloud.
In turn, we are entering the initial phases of the Internet of Everything, that are characterised by the connection of people, processes, data and objects to the network, and which are generating huge advancement opportunities for countries, companies and society.
According to our calculations, Europe could capture 30 per cent of the Internet of Everything's 11 billion euros of economic potential that will be "in play" for private sector companies globally over the next ten years, and with the consequent wealth and job generation. This value is the amount companies that take advantage of the IoE to increase the efficiency of their operations and deliver better customer experiences can reach.
SCASC.- The capabilities of devices and systems, in terms of speed and storage, are advancing every year and at a dizzying pace. Are we ready to follow the pace of technological progress? Is Cisco ready?
JMP.- People in Spain make advanced use of new technologies: for example, Spain is one of the countries with the highest penetration of smartphones in the world; fibre optics and broadband are available in most urban centres; social networks are common communication tools.
The next phase of progress is marked by the Internet of Everything, given that in 2020 there will be 50,000 million connected devices, which will offer multiple applications, such as the use of sensors to detect fires. The possibilities are endless, but it is essential to have smart networks that allow these connections to be supported and with the capacity to generate information that must be captured, stored, shared, analysed and displayed to optimise multiple processes such as manufacturing, transportation or utilities. With 30 years’ experience in Internet networking, Cisco has the necessary solutions to provide businesses and administrations with this intelligent platform that will take full advantage of the IoE.
With the Internet of Everything there is 11 billion euros of economic potential in play for private sector companies globally over the next ten years
SCASC.- What is the greatest competitive advantage that Cisco can provide?
JMP.- Our ability to help organisations solve their business challenges through intelligent networks is our strategic differentiator. No other company has such a strong presence in the most important market sectors and customers recognise this facet and value. Our leadership in networking, video, collaboration and the Cloud positions Cisco as a strategic partner for businesses and with the right strategy to become the number one Information Technology company in the world.
SCASC.- A common problem for consumers, when they visit companies’ websites is information overload on their computers leading to a slow connection. Can Cisco help consumers to access the information and services they want more quickly?
JMP.- Of course we can. There is a need for new generation networks to avoid problems of latency in a scenario where there are billions of connected devices. In this sense, the arrival of 4G or LTE to improve broadband (higher speed and lower latency) is one of the facilitators of the Internet of Everything, together with the exponential growth in the number of devices that support IPv6, which does not limit the number of addresses and therefore does not limit the number of connected objects either.
In this way, Cisco helps operators to evolve their networks to the EPC (Evolved Packet Core) LTE (Long Term Evolution) specification with solutions that take advantage of investments that have already been made in 3G networks, and allow them to get a multi-Megabit bandwidth, lower latency and optimised mobility. One of the most significant solutions is the family of Cisco ASR 5000 routers, which are able to simplify the migration to LTE EPC via a software update, without having to make significant changes or deploy a large number of computers.
SCASC.- Some cities in the world have begun to implement facilities and integrated computer systems which provide new possibilities to users and operators, such as parking systems in California, which operate with Cisco systems. Could this type of system result in partially self-regulated cities?
JMP.- Yes, provided that the systems or applications are based on intelligent IP communications networks. In a city the communications networks are the equivalent to the nervous system in a living organism and are, therefore, vital to the functioning of urban centres.
An example is the complete Cisco WiFi network and Streetline Parker app to manage car parks in the central area of San Carlos, California. Thanks to integrated sensors which provide real-time information about parking, drivers can find available spaces, encouraging residents and tourists to visit the centre of San Carlos for leisure.
But we have many other examples. In Spain, the most significant is in Barcelona, where Cisco contributes to the so-called Urban Reference Platform, which is composed of a physical network infrastructure present in the streets and public spaces that can be connected to multiple devices (sensors, access points to information and mobile devices) in a simple and safe way to improve the management of existing public services and adopting new ones (smart parking, self-sufficient energy blocks, and optimising the use of rain water, etc.)
Also, Barcelona has set up a Virtual Citizen’s Service Office where the use of high resolution videoconferencing systems allow the public administration to be closer to the people at a time and location that is much more convenient for them.
Another example is found in the Canary Islands. In April, the Cabildo Insular de La Palma and the Canary Islands Health Service introduced the first telemedicine service available in Spain. This is a pioneering project based on the Cisco HealthPresence software platform, which allows patients at the Hospital General de La Palma and the Hospital Universitario de Canarias to receive remote medical assistance, without the need to travel between islands. This leads to significant time savings and increased patient convenience, not to mention the potential economic benefit.
SCASC.- ¿What is Cisco’s commitment to Smart Cities?
JMP.- At Cisco we identify the Smart City concept with Smart Connected Communities or ‘connected smart communities’. That is, cities in which systems and services such as health, education, transport, security, energy, water and waste treatment must be interconnected and integrated in order to facilitate and improve their efficiency and quality as well as enabling the development of new services. The idea is to create a uniform and integrated platform capable of unifying these processes, reducing costs and optimising energy consumption and the key to achieving this platform is the Internet and IP networks. The network allows the uniting of transportation-related services, urban planning, security, utilities, education, health, sports and entertainment with the local government. In this way, Smart Connected Communities aim to transform the way cities are designed, built and renewed in order to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability.
SCASC.- Within the concept of Internet of Everything, can you see a time in the not too distant future where devices interact with each other (for example, a mobile phone operating a remote oven), or perhaps even operate automatically without human intervention being necessary?
JMP.- Yes, in fact devices are already interacting through what are called machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. According to the Cisco VNI Report, M2M traffic - such as that generated by GPS navigators, the active monitoring systems or medical applications - will represent 5 per cent of all global mobile data traffic and there will be 1,700 million M2M connections by 2017. In Spain, M2M connections accounted for 0.4 per cent of IP traffic in 2012, but this is set to increase to 4 per cent in 2017.
These communications can be extremely valuable in optimising production processes. For example, sensors in a refrigerated lorry can provide the temperature of the goods, but it will only be useful if we know in real time whether the temperature is correct or there is something wrong. Similarly, if a business discovers that a customer is in the shop through location-based services, you can offer him discounts or special offers through his smart phone, in a fully automated way.
Therefore, organisations must expand their traditional view of Big Data, analytical and processing systems and adopt an intelligent platform based on the network and capable of providing real-time information in order to make decisions instantly, and without forgetting that the historical analysis of data will remain relevant for predicting future trends.
SCASC.- Cisco’s NCS systems can move some functions from some servers to others to avoid overloads and slowdowns. How does this system technology work? Is there a risk that some information can be lost during the transfer?
JMP.- The Cisco Network Convergence System (NCS) is a routing platform designed to serve as a more scalable, intelligent and adaptable pillar of the new Internet. The Cisco NCS is therefore the first convergent and high-performance system in the industry for operators and is designed to virtualise telecommunications services, simplify operations and consolidate infrastructure with the ultimate goal of increasing service providers’ profitability and improving the consumer’s experience safely.
To do this, Cisco NCS provides a previously unknown level of performance, advanced virtualisation capabilities and a fully flexible and convergent fabric that allows service providers to quickly adjust network functionality and applications without having any impact on services. These capabilities are essential as operators try to respond not only to the massive growth of bandwidth to integrate video, Cloud applications and mobile traffic, but also the billions of interactions or programmable events generated by the Internet of Everything.
With more than 100 patents, the NCS platform’s power is the result of a significant R&D investment that has allowed us to integrate the most scalable and programmable network processor in the industry - the Cisco nPower X1 - providing the intelligence, scalability and programmability necessary to meet the demands of the Internet of Everything over the next decade and beyond.
Millions of connections turn information into actions that generate huge advancement opportunities for countries, companies and society
SCASC.- Cisco has contributed enormously to companies consolidating their infrastructures better through technological solutions. Is Cisco involved in, and supporting other Research, Development and Innovation initiatives?
JMP.- At Cisco, innovation is the way to productivity. For this reason, we have 21 R&D centres located around the world and more than 16,000 engineers developing new solutions and technologies. In the 2013 financial year we spent 12 per cent of the company’s total revenues on R&D, making us one of the companies with the most funds allocated to innovation in the world, according to the IEEE. Through acquisitions, Cisco has also been incorporating innovative technology developed by third parties, now totalling 150 in our nearly 30-year history.
This commitment to innovation has allowed us to have more than 13,000 worldwide patents granted as of today and to launch innovative systems such as Catalyst switches, ISR routers, TelePresence solutions, UCS servers or the collaboration tools Jabber and WebEx.
But some of these systems have been designed in collaboration with our technological partners. One example is the Cisco UCS servers, designed in collaboration with other industry leaders such as Intel. Launched just four years ago, Cisco UCS servers are already being used by over 26,000 unique customers and have reached second position in terms of worldwide market share (around 20 per cent) in blade servers, thanks to its innovative approach: the unification of the servers, computing, the networks, storage access, virtualisation and management all in one standard, modular system facilitates the leap to the Cloud. We believe that this collaboration with technological partners is essential, and therefore we focus on standards-based designs and participate in the most important research organisations in the industry.
SCASC.- What have been Cisco’s most remarkable achievements in recent years? What differentiates them from your competitors' products?
JMP.- Our ability to anticipate market transitions, providing the necessary technology so that companies and society can improve and move forward. Cisco has a proven track record in this regard: from 1997, when we considered that voice and video would be one, to 2000 when we defined the Network of Networks concept and until today, when we talk about the Internet as a platform, the transition to collaborative technologies, Web 2.0 and the new era of Internet of Everything.
To do this, we rely on heavy R&D investments (almost $5,900 million in financial year 2013, or 12 per cent of global revenues) and our experience in intelligent networks to guarantee our position against any competitor. Another differentiator is our channel, which is perfectly aligned with Cisco's strategy over the years and is ready to become the best technological consultant for the end customers.
SCASC.- From your experience at Cisco, what do think will be the future of telecommunications in the coming years?
JMP.- We are now entering a new era of telecommunications, where Internet networks are evolving to support the billions of connections between people, processes, information and objects, including programmable smart devices such as phones, tablets, TVs and much more.
This connection of multiple devices is creating new processes and promoting the creation of millions of applications that the devices will access so that the new era of telecommunications will be dominated by the 'app economy'. The importance of networks to support this whole ecosystem of applications is critical.