Paul DeBeasi

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Paul DeBeasi
Research VP
5 years with Gartner
29 years in IT industry

Paul DeBeasi is a research VP within Gartner IT Professionals Research. Mr. DeBeasi manages the research agenda for the Burton Network and Telecom Strategies coverage area. Read Full Bio

BlackBerry Alternatives: A Migration Strategy for the Mobile Enterprise

by Paul DeBeasi  |  February 7, 2013  |  Submit a Comment

Although there is currently no pressing need to move from BlackBerry to other mobile platforms, employee pressure to use more “modern and cool” devices, the trend of consumerization and BlackBerry’s recent problems have combined to force scenarios in which a growing number of IT departments are evaluating alternative platforms. This trend causes many enterprises to ask the question “How do I migrate from BlackBerry to an alternative platform?”  Well, Gartner for Technical Professionals analyst Michael Disabato has answered that question with his recently published report entitled “BlackBerry Alternatives: A Migration Strategy for the Mobile Enterprise.” The report is excellent.  To access the full report, click on the title (above). I’ve provided an excerpt below to whet your appetite.  Enjoy!

BlackBerry — formerly Research In Motion (RIM), the corporate name was changed in January 2013 — has fallen behind Apple iOS and Google Android in developing and innovating devices that consumers want to buy. Financial setbacks and network outages have damaged its reputation. As a result, Gartner has received 30 inquiries during 2012 in which clients have expressed concern about BlackBerry’s situation, and those clients have stated that they are considering moving from BlackBerry to other vendors. Gartner believes there is no compelling reason to move off BlackBerry, and if the enterprise wants to stay with BlackBerry, Gartner believes that is an acceptable strategy for the next several years. However, Gartner also believes it is time to migrate from a single OS strategy to a multi-OS and multidevice strategy. Banking on a single device and OS is no longer a sound strategy in light of our long-term projections on platform market share volatility.

Although BlackBerry’s BB10 line may address the “modern and cool” problem, there is no guarantee it will succeed in the critical consumer market. Enterprises should treat moving from BlackBerry or adding additional platforms to their enterprise mobility strategy in much the same way they explore management solutions for bring your own device (BYOD) programs. The risk assessment, deployment issues, provisioning processes and acquisition strategy for the management system are identical. Enterprises should also leverage this opportunity to re-examine mobility policies and risk assessments before making any decisions.

Enterprises desiring to migrate from BlackBerry to an alternative platform should examine their current risk posture and mobility policies prior to selecting a platform and management tool. Gartner recommends that enterprises embark on a BlackBerry replacement strategy by following the guidance in this document:  Click here to read more…

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Category: Mobile     Tags: , ,

Cisco buys Meraki

by Paul DeBeasi  |  November 19, 2012  |  1 Comment

Cisco has announced their intent to buy Meraki. Meraki provides wired/wireless LAN and security products all managed via the cloud. What does “managed via the cloud” mean?  It means that the management server is in the cloud, rather than in the enterprise data center (see figure).

The benefit of such an approach is ease of installation and management. I’ve used the Meraki product for several years and I can definitely see a design tradeoff: ease-of-use versus enterprise-feature-richness.  That is not to say that the Meraki solution does not have very nice features.  It does. But, it does not have all the features seen in the products targeted at the large enterprise. For instance, the spectrum management capabilities only monitor the 2.4 GHz band and the AP must be placed into a monitor only mode (see figure). The point to remember is that the solution was designed to be simple to use and operate. If it had all the bells and whistles of a large enterprise wireless management system then it would also be burdened with all of that complexity.

Cisco talks about Meraki having an “agile model”.  What does that mean?  There are two perspectives here; agile sales and agile engineering. From a sales perspective, a Meraki deployment has much less complexity than a typical large enterprise deployment so it is much easier to sell and support using inside sales and channel sales. Meraki sales have quickly scaled up to a bookings run rate of $100M, and is sold in over 130 countries.

From an engineering point of view, the Meraki cloud management system allows the company to quickly deploy new software to 100’s of customers (1000’s of devices) overnight.  The Meraki products (wireless access points, switches, etc.) can communicate directly with the cloud management system.  So, the products can tell engineering when there is a problem.  This is a software developer’s dream because the model provides very fast feedback.  This model enables the engineering team to beta test and deploy new features more quickly than a traditional model where humans have to do the beta software installation and then provide feedback to the vendor.

Lastly, the Meraki Systems Manager feature, while not a Mobile Device Management (MDM) product (as Cisco states in their press release), provides the ability the monitor, wipe, and reset Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android devices.  Systems Manager provides a way for mid-market customers to have some visibility and control over mobile endpoints, without having to purchase a full MDM solution.

San Francisco based Meraki will form the Cisco Cloud Networking Group, report to Sujai Hajela, and will remain focused on the mid-market.


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Category: Mobile Mobility wireless     Tags: ,

Cisco Connected Mobile Launch

by Paul DeBeasi  |  November 15, 2012  |  2 Comments

Cisco launched their Connected Mobile solution today. What is it?  In short, it is a method by which hotspot providers can advertise and deploy services to mobile devices before the device authenticates with the network and with little or no user action.

Why should anyone care?  Well, think about what you have to do to login to WiFi at a retailer, hotel, or airport.  Typically, users must establish a time-limited user name/password and then must login to the network every time they visit the venue. In addition, the hotspot provider can’t easily alert a nearby user of relevant services and can’t easily push an application to the user. The new Cisco capability enables a hotspot provider to deploy services and applications to mobile users without requiring user pre-registration or pre-loading of applications.

For example, the Cisco solution enables a retailer to automatically alert a nearby customer of a sale, push a coupon to their device, and download a loyalty application to the user device. This capability will make it easier for users to access hotspots and easier for hotspot providers to connect to their customers.

What do you need to make this work?  

Enterprises need the following components to make all of this work.

  1. MSAP Client: The solution requires use of a Mobility Services Advertisement  Protocol (MSAP) client in the mobile device (see below for an explanation of MSAP).  The MSAP client will be bundled with future phones that use the Qualcomm SnapDragon client (see Cisco for a list of devices).  The MSAP client software can also be integrated into a mobile application.
  2. MSAP Server: The solution requires an MSAP server.  The server runs on the Cisco Mobility Services Engine and is embedded in MSE software version 7.4.
  3. Service configuration: The customer must configure the services they want to provide to users at their venues using the Cisco Prime Network Control System, which manages the MSE.  This does not require any programming.  The services themselves are links to URLs or other applications that the customer must develop. For instance, if a retailer wants to push a loyalty application to the mobile device then they must develop the loyalty application and add it to an App Store.   The mobile’s native procedures are used to download the loyalty application from the App Store. In a future release, MSE will also provide some pre-built services that customer can deploy out-of-the box (e.g., Where am I?).
  4. MSAP protocol is proprietary: The MSAP protocol is built upon IEEE standards but itself is not a standard. It would be great if the MSAP protocol (or some variant) was standardized by the IEEE, certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, and embedded in every mobile handset (am I dreaming?).  That would unleash the full potential of this solution.
  5. Wireless LAN Controller software.  The solution depends on the Wireless LAN Controller version 7.2 or higher. It does not depend on the AP type or AP software version
  6. Access Point:  This solution operates with all Cisco Unified Wireless Network (CUWN) APs.

How does this work?

The Cisco solution builds upon the new Generic Advertising Service defined by the IEEE in the 802.11u amendment (see figure).

Generic Advertising Service – The Generic Advertisement Service (GAS) is an IEEE 802.11u protocol that provides link layer transportation of frames for higher-layer advertisement services. GAS operates BEFORE the Wi-Fi device and the access point (AP) form an association, BEFORE the network authenticates the device and BEFORE the device receives an IP address.

GAS defines a generic container to advertise net­work service information over an 802.11 network.  GAS is similar to the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) in that both operate over the link layer, do not require an IP address, and provide a generic container transport service (EAP for authentication, GAS for network advertisement).  GAS is an important foundational element that enables higher layer services such as simplified network discovery, seamless network access, inter-provider hot spot roaming.

One of the protocols that GAS transports is the Access Network Query Protocol (ANQP).  This protocol provides support for determining roaming partners and authentication methods.  It also provides general information on parameters of the Wi-Fi access network.  The Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint Program certifies interoperability of GAS and ANQP.

Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol – The Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol (MSAP) is a Cisco Systems proprietary protocol that provides service advertisements to mobile devices.  GAS transports the MSAP frames (see figure). Therefore, MSAP also operates BEFORE the Wi-Fi device and the access point (AP) form an association, BEFORE the network authenticates the device and BEFORE the device receives an IP address. MSAP runs in the mobile device (MSAP client) and on the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSAP server).

When the MSAP client sees an 802.11 Beacon frame that indicates that MSAP advertising is available, then it asks the MSAP server what services are available. The behavior of the MSAP server depends upon what capabilities the Cisco customer develops.  For instance, the MSAP server can load an advertisement to a loyalty application onto the mobile device and then the mobile can download that application from its App Store.  A future version of MSAP will incorporate digital signatures and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for security.

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Category: Mobile Mobility wireless     Tags: ,

Mobile Architecture – Now live on

by Paul DeBeasi  |  August 16, 2012  |  Submit a Comment

As I mentioned on Monday, Gartner has launched the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture for enterprise IT organizations. The Mobile Reference Architecture is an integrated set of research that helps IT organizations make technology, infrastructure and policy decisions that support their mobile initiatives.  The Mobile Solution Path provides a summary of the mobile reference architecture. It helps enterprises “see the big picture” and it also provides hyperlinks to the other components in the reference architecture (see figure).

Screen Shot 2012-08-16 at 1.01.56 PM

We plan to devote Tuesday, August 21st, at the Gartner Catalyst Conference in San Diego, to explain the mobile architecture. However, if you can’t make it to Catalyst, then you should check out the Gartner for Technical Professionals website.  Click on the “Reference Architecture” tab and you will see titles and abstracts for each of the reference architecture reports.  Enjoy!

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Category: Architecture Mobile Mobility wireless     Tags:

The New Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture

by Paul DeBeasi  |  August 13, 2012  |  7 Comments

Summary: Gartner has introduced the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture for enterprise IT organizations. The Mobile Reference Architecture is an integrated set of research that helps IT organizations make technology, infrastructure and policy decisions that support their mobile initiatives.   The Mobile Reference Architecture will help IT organizations:

  • Accelerate mobile solution deployment
  • Satisfy a broad set of mobile requirements
  • Facilitate iterative decision making
  • Adapt to changing requirements
  • Increase institutional mobility knowledge

Mobility is about making the right tradeoffs

Over the past year I’ve spoken with hundreds of enterprise IT organizations about their mobility challenges.  These organizations often focus on a single overriding mobility issue (e.g., user experience). However, their focus on a single issue can mask other important issues (e.g., expense management) and result in unintended consequences (e.g., increased risk). Many enterprises don’t fully understand that the process of creating a mobile solution requires that they deal with numerous conflicting tradeoffs. These tradeoffs must address not only technical questions but also business and organizational questions, such as:

  • How do we analyze our mobile business requirements?
  • How do we define and prioritize our mobile use cases?
  • How do we establish mobile governance?
  • How do we manage human resources in a mobile culture?
  • How do we satisfy user needs while balancing security and usability?
  • How do we manage our mobile expenses?
  • What identity, privacy and security controls should we use?
  • Which application architecture should we use?
  • How do we choose appropriate wireless solutions?
  • How do we assess our management requirements?

Enterprises need to iteratively repeat the process of analyzing tradeoffs across all the relevant mobile questions so that they understand the consequences of their decisions. But many enterprises fail to consider all of the relevant questions because the mobility team:

  • Does not include all of the stakeholders (e.g., IT, legal, HR, sales, marketing and users)
  • Does not know which questions to ask
  • Lacks the experience to analyze conflicting, interdisciplinary trade-offs
  • Views mobility through a narrow lens (for example, mobile application development only)
  • Gets so entangled in the details of one question (for example, "How do I select a mobile device management tool?") that it fails to see a broader perspective

The risk of failing to consider all of the major questions is that enterprises may make choices that are in conflict with each other and that have unintended consequences (for example, unacceptable risk, excessive cost, poor user experience and unmet business requirements). It is easy for this to happen because the conflicts may be subtle, and, oftentimes, no single person or team completely understands the "big picture" of how the mobile solution is interrelated.

Introducing the Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture

On Tuesday, August 21st, at the Gartner Catalyst Conference in San Diego, Gartner will introduce the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture. The Mobile Reference Architecture is an integrated set of research that helps IT organizations make technology, infrastructure and policy decisions that support their mobile initiatives.

The reference architecture includes five research components (see figure):
Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture
Solution Path: The Solution Path helps IT organizations navigate the through the process of making choices to create a mobile architecture that satisfies business requirements and user needs (see figure) . It provides hyperlinks to the other components in the reference architecture.

Solution Path

Decision Points: Decision Points provide detailed technical research that helps enterprises make specific technical decisions.  Examples include:

  • Decision Point for Mobile Endpoint Security
  • Decision Point for Selecting a Mobile Application Architecture
  • Decision Point for Choosing the Right Mobility Management Options
  • Decision Point for Identity and Access Management in Mobility Projects
  • Decision Point for Mobile Cellular In-building Technology
  • Decision Point for Wireless LAN Technology

Template Diagrams: Template diagrams provide illustrative figures that identify the key mobile components and their interrelationships.

Mobile Research Reports: Mobile research reports help IT organizations use the mobile reference architecture by providing supportive research.  Examples include:

  • Creating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy
  • Data Mobility and The Information Requirements for Mobile Solutions
  • Creating a Defensible Business Case
  • Mobile File Synchronization Evaluation Criteria
  • Evaluation Criteria for Mobile Device Management
  • Confidential Email Delivery: Ready for the mobile age?

Mobile Solution Analyzer

The mobile solution analyzer (MSA) is a tool that helps enterprises understand the interrelationships among disciplines when creating a mobile architecture. The MSA is a simulator and is not intended to replace proper architectural analysis. The intent is for enterprises to use the MSA in conjunction with the Solution Path and other components of the Mobile Reference Architecture. The MSA can help enterprises understand the big picture by enabling mobile architects to perform “what if” analysis. It shows how decisions made in one area can impact (in most cases by limiting) options in other areas.

Enterprise benefits

The Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture provides a decision-making methodology that:

  • Accelerates mobile solution deployment by facilitating rapid decision-making using a repeatable process
  • Satisfies a broad set of mobile requirements by providing vendor-agnostic research that helps IT make architectural decisions
  • Facilitates iterative decision making by guiding the mobility team through a process of methodically making tradeoffs among conflicting requirements
  • Adapts to changing requirements by encouraging continuous experimentation and learning
  • Increases institutional mobility knowledge by using an auditable (and defensible) methodology to make key mobile decisions

If you can’t join us in San Diego then be sure to read my next blog post later this week where I’ll explain how you can learn more about Gartner’s new Mobile Reference Architecture.


Category: Architecture Mobile Mobility wireless     Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cloud Computing, Pervasive Mobility, and TV White Space

by Paul DeBeasi  |  January 27, 2011  |  4 Comments

Question: What do Cloud Computing, pervasive mobility, and TV white space have to do with each other?  Answer: Read this blog post and find out!

Virtually every customer conversation that I have these days is centered on the topic of mobility. Enterprise users want to communicate and collaborate anytime, anywhere, using any device. Most of my conversations focus on mobile device management, information security, and application architecture. Rarely does someone ask me about the wireless network. They just presume that wireless is everywhere and it “just works”.

Although I don’t cover cloud computing, I feel the influence of cloud computing everyday as I talk to customers, analysts, and vendors. Invariably, cloud computing is discussed in virtually every conversation that I have. This should not be surprising given the fact that, for most enterprise users, they will access the cloud using a mobile device. But again, when I talk with other folks about cloud computing, no one ever asks me about the wireless network.

By now you’re probably getting the impression that I am interested in the wireless network.  I am.  Wireless network performance, availability, and predictability will directly impact the experience of a mobile user accessing cloud computing services.

For instance, a user trying to download large files from the cloud to their iPad via an overloaded mobile cellular site may experience very long download times.   Similarly, a video web conference hosted in the cloud, that communicates with users connected to a poorly designed wireless LAN may experience degraded video and audio quality.

Wireless LAN capacity, density, and quality of service is usually under the control of the enterprise whereas the mobile cellular performance is not.  In this post I will focus on the mobile cellular network.  I’ll discuss wireless LAN performance and management issues in a future post.

The need for more wireless spectrum

Many of you have probably read about the problems that AT&T experienced when iPhone users began to overload the AT&T 3G cellular network (See  AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and many other operators have invested billions of dollars to upgrade their radio access network and their backhaul facilities.  But that is not going to be enough.  They will need more wireless spectrum.

This is because mobile cellular usage is increasing more quickly than operators can upgrade cell towers and backhaul facilities.  No longer is 3G cellular service good enough, users want 4G. The situation is analogous to adding memory to a personal computer.  The more memory you have, the more you use.   Cisco’s report “Hyperconnectivity and the Approaching Zettabyte Era” (see attempts to quantify that growth.  In that report, they make the case that global mobile IP traffic will grow at a CAGR of 108% from 2009-2014.  You just need to look at the shape of the curve to see what I am talking about.

I am not the only person to recognize the need for more wireless spectrum. In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released America’s first national broadband plan (see  In that plan, they stressed the need to (a) make 500 MHz of new spectrum available, and (b) expand opportunities for innovative spectrum access models.  Later that year, in October 2010, the FCC released another report stating that “the broadband spectrum deficit is likely to approach 300 MHz by 2014” (see

The TV White Space initiative

So, what does all this have to do with TV white space?  Well, TV white space represents the first significant increase in unlicensed spectrum below 5 GHz in over 20 years.  According to the FCC, it has the potential to provide:

  • Broadband access to schools in rural areas
  • Improved campus networks
  • Remote sensing of water supplies by municipalities
  • More powerful Wi-Fi hot spots (i.e., better range, fewer dead spots and improved individual speeds due to reduced congestion on existing networks.)
  • Support for the smart grid

Some have referred to the TV white space initiative as an opportunity to provide “super Wi-Fi”, or “Wi-Fi on steroids”.  But in actuality, it has nothing to do with Wi-Fi.  It is all about spectrum usage.

The FCC Second Memorandum Opinion and Order (see established the TV white space rules by which unlicensed devices, called TV Broadband Devices (TVBDs), can make use of specific TV channels in the Very High Frequency (VHF), and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands (see summary table).

(1) North American TV channels. Source:

(2) Spectrum accessible by unlicensed TV Broadband Devices.  Source:

The TV white space initiative makes available 300 MHz of wireless spectrum for new products and services.   What is also interesting here, aside from the new access to wireless spectrum, is that a TVBD can share the spectrum with other wireless transmitters.  For example, medical telemetry equipment is permitted to operate on any vacant TV channel in the range 7 – 46. These are the same channels that a TVBD can use. How is this possible?

The TV White Space initiative achieves this by using a new technique called dynamic spectrum sharing.   This technique is very important because wireless spectrum is a finite resource.  You can’t create more of it.   So, dynamic spectrum sharing is a way to make more efficient use of the existing spectrum.  If this works well, we are likely to see widespread use of dynamic spectrum sharing.

The other important point to make is that the low frequency bands (VHF and UHF) have much better propagation characteristics than higher frequency spectrum.  So, the TV white space spectrum will make it easier for mobile operators to provide in-building cellular coverage. In addition, better propagation means that it will be less costly for mobile operators to cover large rural areas.  Lastly, we are likely to see lots of new and innovative mobile broadband services because the barrier to entry of creating a broadband service using TV white spaces is low due to the fact that the spectrum is unlicensed. In contrast, licensed spectrum can cost billions of dollars.

Mobile access to cloud computing relies upon wireless networks.  These networks must provide sufficient performance, availability, and predictability in order for users to have a satisfactory experience, and will require additional spectrum due to the rapid growth in mobile traffic. Initiatives like TV white spaces will become increasingly important to satisfy the growing demand for more wireless spectrum.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about the TV White Space initiative, dynamic spectrum sharing, and future trends in wireless communication.


Category: wireless     Tags: , , , ,