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Open-Sourced H.264 Removes Barriers to WebRTC

When it comes to making collaboration technology such as high-definition video open and broadly available, it’s clear that the web browser plays an important role. The question is, how do you enable real-time video natively on the Web? It’s a question that folks are anxious to have answered.

WebRTC--a set of enhancements to HTML5--will address the issue head on. But, there is an important hurdle that must first be cleared, and that’s standardizing on a common video codec for real-time communications on the web – something the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will decide next week.

The industry has been divided on the choice of a common video codec for some time, namely because the industry standard--H.264--requires royalty payments to MPEG LA. Today, I am pleased to announce Cisco is making a bold move to take concerns about these payments off the table.

We plan to open-source our H.264 codec, and to provide it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Cisco will not pass on our MPEG LA licensing costs for this module, and based on the current licensing environment, this will effectively make H.264 free for use in WebRTC.

I’m also pleased that Mozilla has announced it will enable Firefox to utilize this module, bringing real-time H.264 support to their browser.

“It hasn’t been easy, but Mozilla has helped to lead the industry toward interoperable video on the Web,” said Brendan Eich, Mozilla Chief Technology Officer. “Cisco’s announcement helps us support H.264 in Firefox on most operating systems, and in downstream and other open source distributions using the Cisco H.264 binary module. We are excited to work with Cisco on advancing the state of interoperable Web video.”

Why is Cisco Doing This? Read More »

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Innovative Collaboration Tools for the Desk Worker

October 25, 2013 at 10:10 am PST

At Cisco, we’re committed to evolving and enhancing the collaboration user experience -- connecting you to the experts you need, regardless of location.  But user experience goes beyond that. It’s also thinking about ways to delight you -- with a simpler AND superior user experience. Whether that’s with high-definition voice and video on “every pane of glass”, to sharing content in meetings using your device of choice, to bringing the worlds of personal mobile devices and corporate IT owned and managed closer together.

Given the proliferation of mobile devices that have entered the workplace, you probably don’t find my comments around a focus on user experiences for the mobile worker too surprising. However, what I think might be surprising to you is that we’re placing an equivalent level of commitment to drive innovation on user experiences for the worker at the desk.

Why would we do this? I’ll tell you. Consider primary research we commissioned this past summer of 2300 global enterprise and mid-sized company end users and decision makers. The study indicated 70% of users work primarily from a desk 4-5 days per week. Read More »

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Fantastic New Experiences with Collaboration Systems Release 10

The collaboration market is on a transformational journey.  Workloads and use cases such as web conferencing, telephony, video, and file sharing that started as separate islands at first, are now rapidly converging.  With those islands come complexity of integration and interoperability, which means experiences can suffer.

Two key things Cisco is focused on is making collaboration simple to use, deploy, and buy; and pervasive by reducing cost and extending the value of existing investments.  This week we announced Collaboration Systems Release 10 (CSR 10), the first time Cisco is converging voice, video, and content sharing across our portfolio to provide the best possible user experience whether you choose an on-premise, cloud, or fused model.

I’m excited about the fantastic new experiences we are enabling.  Here are a few scenarios to help highlight what is now possible:

First Day on the Job

My first day at Cisco, I was told “everything is on the web,” Read More »

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Collaboration Summit 2013: Don’t Forget the Kids!

Ask Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s new SVP/GM of collaboration, what industry execs he identifies most with these days and he just might say “those running toy companies”. After all, toymakers can’t build just for buyers (aka parents) or for users (aka kids). These groups tend to define “fun” a little differently, so favor one over the other and your business is headed in the same direction as T-Rex.

The same holds true in Enterprise Collaboration; design solely for “the parents”—the business, IT—you stand a really good chance of totally losing “the kids”— not just Gen Y-ers, though they are a huge force in the business world today, but anyone who is getting work done with colleagues, partners and customers around the globe and around the clock. These are savvy users—even the least technologically inclined spend half the day on pocket-sized supercomputers (smartphones, tablets). They’ve become accustomed to personal tech that is beautiful to look at, simple to use and simply works—right out of the box.

Just like kids have a huge say in what toys parents buy, today’s users have a huge say in what collaboration tools get used to get the job done. With this in mind, Cisco is totally-completely-wholly committed to delivering collaboration tools that appeal to “kids” and “parents” alike. From now on we’ll delight end-users with beautiful, simple products while at the same time delivering the security, scalability and manageability the business and IT demand.

So what did we announce? You can read the full press release here; below is some additional color commentary on my favorite of the newly announced innovations:

No more “let me call you right back.” We’ve all done it: arrived in the office mid-smartphone-discussion and suddenly the desk phone with its oh-so-ergonomically correct speakerphone Read More »

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A Generation X Perspective: Collaboration My Way?

I was recently digging through a closet at home and happened upon some boxes with old tech gadgets from years past.  As a Gen Xer who grew up with a Commodore 64 and whose first personal workplace productivity tool was a US Robotics Palm Pilot in 1997, it made me come to two realizations.  First, technology has really changed – and for the better.  And second, I need to start parting with things that no longer work in the current state of the working world.

My generation is described as highly individualistic.  We’re supposed to be technologically adept, flexible and value work/life balance.  And I can assure you I am all of those things.  But when I think about my career and how my generation’s cultural values have translated into the technological culture of the places I’ve worked in years past, it hasn’t always been rosy.  I used to be tethered to a cubicle with a desktop computer and telephone.  Things got slightly better with laptops, but there were no Apple products or personal devices allowed on the network.  One supported choice for a smartphone?  Not so smart, really.  But as new generations are entering the workforce after me, I’m seeing a dramatic shift occurring in thinking and approach.

I’m noticing that both organizations and technology providers alike are recognizing the need for change and designing for a new way of working – giving employees access to technology like never before. Whereas I used to have difficulty getting collaboration tools to do the job, now there is a plethora of them at my disposal.  But be careful what you wish for. Read More »

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