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Summary:

Today Cisco Systems said it plans to spend $120 million to buy Seattle-based Pure Networks, a company that makes software to manage home networks. Pure’s network management software and underlying protocols, which make a connected device visible to a network, are becoming more important now that […]

Today Cisco Systems said it plans to spend $120 million to buy Seattle-based Pure Networks, a company that makes software to manage home networks. Pure’s network management software and underlying protocols, which make a connected device visible to a network, are becoming more important now that devices beyond computers and their peripherals are networked in the home.

Cisco has already tried to address this trend by using Pure’s technology in its Linksys Easy Link Advisor program, which was introduced on Linksys routers in April and is aimed at making it easier to manage multiple PCs and equipment. Today’s acquisition was driven, in part, by vendor and consumer satisfaction with those routers. It’s also because Cisco is trying to drive its vision of an intelligent network as the hub of the connected digital home. Pure’s software and HNAP protocol, which works with any IP network, from Wi-Fi to Ethernet, will underlie that intelligent network.

In contrast with Intel, which views the home network as a group of devices centered around a PC, Cisco’s Chris Dobrec, director of worldwide strategy for Linksys, says networked devices can and should have the level of intelligence built into them to recognize and talk to one another without using the PC as an intermediary. That’s a common enough vision, one that would allow you to take a photo with a digital camera and easily send it to your friend’s camera without ever using a PC. The days of standing there for 8 minutes at a family reunion while 10 people pass along their cameras to snag a shot would be over.

The problem with that scenario is that intelligence in devices doesn’t come cheap. In addition to a networking chip, certain protocols require a lot of CPU power or memory in order to identify and disclose themselves to a network. Dobrec says the HNAP protocol is light enough that it doesn’t need additional chips and could easily be embedded on existing hardware. Cisco plans to push the HNAP protocol as a standard and get device makers on board.

Eliminating the PC as a middleman won’t be easy with Intel pushing its own consumer networking technology, Cliffside, which uses Wi-Fi to connect devices and is scheduled to be introduced next year. The capability is already built into Intel’s Centrino chips, and will be activated with a software update in about eight months. Both HNPA and Intel’s Cliffside project will network Internet-connected devices as well as those that aren’t connected to the Internet.

  1. Historically we have seen that any hardware equipment (eg. memory, storage space, etc) has a steep reduction in cost over a period of time. (Remember those days when we had PCs with 1MB RAM and no hard disk and RamDisk as temporary hard disk?)

    Going along these lines, I believe Cisco’s plan to eliminate PC as the middleman might work, once the cost of these smart devices/technologies are driven down over a period of time.

    Stacey, your thoughts are right..adoption in current day scenario might be difficult.

    Again, time is the answer – lets wait and watch.

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  2. [...] before Scientific Atlanta) to buy consumer-focused companies — Linksys ($500 million), Pure ($120 million) and KISS technology — not to mention some investments in CE startups like Akimbo. With the [...]

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  3. [...] Linksys router, it can offer PC-free telepresence to consumers. This combines Cisco’s hope of wresting control of the digital home from the PC and putting it in the network with its love of video [...]

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  4. [...] large technology vendors, such as Intel, Microsoft and Cisco, are playing to both sides of the home networking divide, trying to provide tools and products that allow service providers a [...]

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