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Cisco, Apple partner to optimize mobility in the enterprise

The two companies at the top of their markets realize they are better together.

Apple Cisco partnership iPhone iPad BYOD mobility networking
Credit: Thinkstock

Back in 2005, Jack Johnson released a wonderful song called Better Together that's one of my favorites from that artist. Today, at Cisco's Global Sales Meeting in Las Vegas, Cisco's Executive Chairman John Chambers and Apple CEO Tim Cook sang their own version of this song, and it went something like this:

"There's no combination of devices I could put on your network,

No content I could download, that would impede the way people work,

Our dreams, and they are made out of technical things,

Like a cloud drive filled with videos accessed from an iPhone…

… Mmm, it's always better when we're together"

Now, they obviously didn't sing this song, but they should have. Instead, the two industry luminaries announced a partnership that will address three areas:

  • Optimizing networks to improve performance for the iPad and iPhone.
  • Creating an even better experience for Cisco voice communications on iPhone.
  • Reinventing teamwork and meetings with Cisco collaboration tools. 

This partnership is an absolute no-brainer, as Cisco and Apple are both the 800-pound gorillas in their respective markets. iOS devices are pervasive across businesses large and small, and almost everyone company I have talked to about mobility has an Apple strategy. There may be other mobile OSes, but Apple is always a significant part of the plan. Cisco is the industry's de facto standard and market leader when it comes to the enterprise network, communications, and collaboration, so the two working together and jointly engineering solutions to make the Apple-on-Cisco experience better can only be a huge positive for most businesses today.

Also, over the past few years, Cisco has been much more aggressive in its partnerships with other technology providers, and this is further proof of that. As for Apple, the company hasn't exactly been the most corporate-friendly vendor, but that tide is changing and this partnership shows that Apple is looking to give its customers what they want and need.

Details of the bullets above are as follows:

Optimizing networks to deliver improved performance for the iPad and iPhone

Apple users will have superior performance when running on a Cisco network through the following:

  • iOS devices will automatically and dynamically select the optimal network or the Wi-Fi access point based on the application or user requirements.
  • Custom and App Store iOS apps will have priority to perform better on the Cisco network.
  • Improved performance and response time by optimizing how content is downloaded. For example, iOS and application updates can be cached, so it's only downloaded once to significantly reduce network traffic. Another example is that a company video might be downloaded and stored locally, giving users faster access.

Creating an even better experience for Cisco voice communications on iPhone

The partnership will seamlessly integrate iPhone into Cisco's communications and the data network, the details of which are:

  • Lower mobile costs by leveraging Cisco Enterprise UC infrastructure to enable businesses to avoid roaming charges and toll costs. Anyone who travels internationally knows that this can be a significant cost, as much as several thousand dollars per user per month depending on the country.
  • Enforcement of policy and compliance by giving IT visibility and an audit trail for workers. For example, a company may choose to restrict international calling when a worker is roaming until they are on the company network.

Reinventing teamwork and meetings with Cisco collaboration tools

The two companies are working together to enable unique collaboration experiences for the iPhone and iPad. Cisco will enable a distinctive experience across mobile, cloud, and premises-based tools such as TelePresence, Cisco Webex, and the hot Cisco Spark. For example:

  • An optimized, custom experience available on iOS for UC, Spark, and video-enabled rooms.
  • iOS devices will easily be able to quickly join, interact, and participate in meetings, whether virtually or physically, using Cisco's tools.
  • The ability to have a truly mobile workspace by using iOS devices for the best all-in-one experience of Cisco collaboration tools with the same experience in or out of the office.

Customers of Apple and Cisco can be assured that their IT and employees will have the best possible experience without having to dedicate IT time to continually tweak and tune the network.

Given the popularity of BYOD plans today, through which Apple devices are coming into the workplace at an unprecedented rate, the partnership can help businesses regain control over many network costs and deliver a quality experience through optimization and policy enforcement. From what I understand, some of the features, such as caching, can be enabled today, but much of what was announced will be available in 2016 because of the significant engineering resources required from both sides.

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