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Cisco Boosts Network Management Portfolio With ClearAccess Acquisition

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

ClearAccess’ technology will enable Cisco to offer service providers better management of increasing Internet traffic

Cisco Systems is bolstering its network management tools for service providers in its bid to buy the software business of ClearAccess.

The giant networking vendor announced the acquisition plan saying that the new products it would inherit will help service providers deal with issues of rapidly growing Internet traffic, increasing network complexity, and a proliferation in the number and types of mobile devices connecting to their networks.

Critical technology

“The ClearAccess acquisition reinforces Cisco’s commitment to service providers by accelerating software architectural advancements in mobility, cloud and managed devices, and video,” Jamie Lerner, vice president and general manager of service provider applications for Cisco’s Network Management Technology Group, said in a statement.

“ClearAccess provides a critical technology that will advance Cisco’s mission to offer service providers a complete set of tools to manage their networks, within the home and across any connected device, amid the on-going proliferation in network traffic,” he said.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed. It is expected to close later this year.

Through its ClearVision broadband network management platform, ClearAccess uses the TR-069 protocol to make it easier for service providers to see into subscriber home networks and mobile devices; monitor and manage such aspects as diagnostics, analytics, bandwidth usage, firewalls and bandwidth use; and offer new applications.

Cisco is looking to buy the software portion of ClearAccess’ business, and fold the products and employees into its Network Management Technology Group. ClearAccess’ technology will support the Cisco Prime network management software portfolio. Cisco officials said ClearAccess’ cloud-based services will give them new capabilities that will make it easier for service providers to test services and deploy them.

ClearAccess’ hardware business, which sells Smart RG Gateways, will continue on as SmartRG, according to Cisco.

Cisco executives have been aggressive in offering service providers products and platforms to help them deal with the trends that are putting greater pressure on their networks. For example, the ClearAccess deal dovetails with Cisco’s acquisition in May 2011 of newScale, which among other things helps service providers add self-service capabilities to their offerings.

Cisco is predicting Internet traffic to grow exponentially over the next few years. In its annual Visual Networking Index Forecast released in June 2011, Cisco said it expects Internet traffic worldwide will hit 966 exabytes per year by 2015, with growth between 2014 and 2015 alone being 200 exabytes – more than the total amount of traffic generated worldwide in 2010.

Key drivers of this growth are the number of Internet users and network-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets and smart appliances. Cisco is predicting that by 2015, there will be three billion Internet users and 15 billion network-connected devices.

Bandwidth-eating video also will play a role. Within the next few years, Cisco predicts that video will account for as much as 90 percent of all Internet traffic.