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Cisco advances video agenda with Cius tablet

Adds new refrain to collaboration theme song

Wireless Alert By Joanie Wexler, Network World
July 02, 2010 10:57 AM ET
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Industry analysis by expert Joanie Wexler, plus links to the day's wireless news headlines

So Cisco has gotten into the tablet business.

There's been quite a hue and cry in the hours since Cisco surprised the industry with its announcement of an Android-based Cius tablet computer -- designed for business users -- at its Cisco Live! customer education and training event in Las Vegas.

Many compare the Cius to the Apple iPad and scoff that it will never make it. Others protest that the devices target entirely different audiences. I think the Cius represents simply a vehicle for pushing Cisco's video agenda -- to help spur lots of videoconferences that fill up network pipes and require more switches and routers.

How Cisco Cius stacks up against the iPad

After all, Cisco CEO John Chambers has been predicting at recent trade shows that video will account for 90% of all Internet traffic by 2013. Frost & Sullivan estimates the videoconferencing market growing at a CAGR of 18% and expects it to be a $5 billion market by 2014. In that spirit, Cisco acquired videoconferencing company Tandberg last year and WebEx a couple of years before that.

The company has been singing the unified communications/collaboration refrain -- of which videoconferencing is the ultimate adjunct -- for several years now.

There are plenty of places where you can read about the Cius's specs, among them a 7-inch touch screen, front and back cameras, alleged eight-hour battery life, 802.11n connectivity and 3G/4G support. Among the most interesting and/or controversial:

* The Cius will be supported by Cisco Unified Communications Manager (formerly CallManager). Given the trend toward mobility, could Cius be the death knell (finally) of the wired deskphone -- at least in new procurements? Wired phones have largely been on their way out since the invasion of smartphones in the enterprise.

* Telepresence support. Eek! It will be lovely for a mobile user to be able to tie into a high-def, lifelike online meeting, but how will we accommodate the necessary mobile bandwidth? Get to know your Wi-Fi hotspots, because 3G/4G networks will be straining. And over-the-air telepresence could cost you and arm and a leg if your provider doesn't offer an unlimited data plan. See the last newsletter for more on this issue.

* The virtual desktop client integration (VDI) support. Security in general, and intellectual property protection in particular, are quite challenging in a mobile world with pliable network boundaries. Using VDI, these devices could be very safe -- allowing data to remain safely in the data center while viewed and/or manipulated from afar via the device but not stored or saved on the local device.

The Cisco Cius is expected to be available in the first quarter of calendar 2011. Its price hasn't been confirmed, but has been reported to be in the neighborhood of $1000.

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

Joanie Wexler is an independent networking technology writer/editor in Silicon Valley.

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