Let’s give thanks for the cool, whizzy future

You won't believe what's in store. Nor should you

By the time you read this, you’ll be stuffed on T-day leftovers -- hope you still got some cranberry and gravy left! While leftovers may get old, IT never does; at least it doesn’t seem so from a peek into Gartner’s crystal ball, entitled “Predicts 2006: Emerging Trends Drive New Opportunities.”

Consider this: “By 2008, the cost of sensor mesh network nodes will fall below $10.” Or this: “By 2015, more than one million mobile robots will be attached to enterprise networks.” Excited yet? I am. Of course, it doesn’t say what exactly the robots will be doing (let your imagination run wild). But it does say that GPS, SOA, and other IT TLAs will enable many new capabilities -- like auto insurance prices based on actual driving behavior and eyeglasses that can call your cell phone when they get lost. Beam me up, man -- I’m ready!

And Cisco Buys the Cable Guy Infonetics: Research just came out with a with a series of reports showing that routers and switches sold briskly in third quarter 2005, both to the enterprise and service-provider (telecom carrier) markets. Specifically, the carrier market was up 3 percent from the previous quarter, and the enterprise market was up a whopping 8 percent. And, so-called secure-router revenue jumped 21 percent.

So, if the router business is so good, why is Cisco paying $6.9 billion to acquire dominant cable set-top-box maker Scientific-Atlanta? First of all, how do they come up with a price like $6.9 billion, anyway? Couldn’t they just throw in the extra hundred million to make it an even seven bills?

Anyhow …. Cisco is buying Scientific-Atlanta because its traditional enterprise markets, while still growing, have matured, and the fast-moving water seems to be on the consumer side these days. In a research brief, Forrester analysts Josh Bernoff and Robert Whiteley say the Scientific-Atlanta acquisition, aside from helping Cisco get into the cable side of the service-provider market, will also help the cable industry move more quickly to an IP-based infrastructure as it tries to position itself as a one-stop communications provider.

“Cisco and S-A combined can provide the intelligent network components needed to sell an IP multimedia subsystem strategy to eager cable companies,” say the Forrester analysts. The deal will also help give Cisco’s credibility selling IPTV (Internet protocol television) gear to the telephone companies, they say, thanks to S-A’s video experience. For enterprise IT, the cable world has never much mattered. But consider the roughly 56 million set-top cable devices in the United States. As more of those boxes become access points for logging on to the Internet and enterprise applications, it will matter big time.