Enterprises are beginning to take video seriously and its integration into every day business is starting to become commonplace. Rich media collaboration is no longer just about video conferencing, it now covers everything from Telepresence to desktop video with existing web conferencing solutions adopting video as part of the user experience. Added to this, we have digital signage in retail stores and sports stadiums and corporate TV solutions to get messages out to the troops. Even long standing solutions like surveillance are migrating from their closed circuit environments and migrating to IP based infrastructures to gain the benefits of cost reduction and a common physical security platform. The common denominator to these trends is the converged IP network. Just as it was for unified communications and the migration of TDM voice to IP voice, the same transition is occurring for rich media applications. But the question is how ready are today’s Enterprise networks to support these new demands and what will the industry need to do to deliver multiple concurrent rich media applications on the same infrastructure?
At first glance the lessons of IP telephony seem to provide the answers. Latency and delay sensitive, IP voice raised the bar for network performance and introduced new considerations for enterprise network architects. Simplified deployment requirements spawned innovation around line power and the need to guarantee low latency for voice traffic in comparison to data led to renewed interest around network quality of service (QoS). However there are two distinctions between the impact of IP voice and the demands that are being placed on networks by the plethora of rich media applications. The first is that voice was largely homogeneous and was essentially part of a single system and hence the network requirements were relatively uniform. The second was that although the latency demands placed new requirements on the networks the relatively light traffic load meant that networks could, with some modifications adapt to the demands. In today’s modern network the range of applications with the varying and often more demanding bandwidth requirements has made deploying a network capable of delivering the necessary service considerably harder. In fact, the bandwidth intensity of many of the applications raises the very real prospect that the network could become the bottleneck that either reduces the business value of rich media applications or even makes the deployment and operations outright impossible.
This is the first part of a 3-part blog. In the next part, we discuss what is the path ahead for the rich media enabled enterprise.