This is the second part of a 3-part blog. In the first part, we discussed the challenges of deploying many different rich media applications in the enterprise.
So what is the path ahead for the rich media enabled enterprise? Many of the challenges, well documented in other blogs, are not without network based solutions. Automated configuration via protocols such as CDP and LLDP to simplify deployment and bandwidth reservation through the RSVP protocol to maximize bandwidth usage have all been around for some time. The problem has not been the lack of network solutions but instead the lack of consistent adoption of these services across the range of rich media endpoints. If we are to expect diverse applications to optimize the usage of an increasingly precious and shared resource such as bandwidth its imperative that they leverage the network functions available and do so in a consistent manner. Up until this point network services and rich media applications have effectively been ships in the night as application vendors have designed their systems to work independently of the network services. This can work but only up and until a point. Network only solutions lack the contextual awareness of the endpoints. To the network divorced from its applications the traffic flows are barely distinguishable from each other and therefore applying services that optimize the experience and the network resources becomes impossible.
A bit extreme, arguably requiring some technology that doesn’t exist yet, but similar things can be said about businesses. Replace the planet with an office and Stephen Hawking’s theories start to fit.
Let me explain.
Here at Cisco, we not only believe in teleworking, or working from home, but we also manufacture equipment to support such efforts, such as our Cisco Virtual Office package. Just like humanity with all of our eggs in the Earth basket, in the past, businesses used to place all of their eggs in the office basket. No office, no work, no company. Fire? Blizzard? Flood? Pandemic? Sorry, you are down, perhaps out of business.
Solutions like the Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), where the teleworker has wireless data, IP telephony and video protected with encryption and QoS, allow businesses to provide employees with the bonus of being able to work from home. This is a competitive differentiator from the HR perspective, but it also allows companies to hedge their bets and put the company in a far stronger disaster recovery/risk management/business continuity position by ensuring that no single event outside of a comet strike or a nuclear war would completely shut the business down because the people doing the work are geographically dispersed, safe, sound and able to work from home.
Professor Hawking (who by the way, is said to have enjoyed not only appearing on the Simpsons but also his rap alter ego the MC “Mighty Stephen” Hawking) is a smart guy. He worries about things like dinosaur killer comets. The rest of us may be tempted to leave the big thinking to others, but winter is coming and brings snow storms and bad weather. Remember swine flu? Sure, the world is unlikely to end tomorrow, but how unlikely is a flood, a blizzard or a bad flu variant this month, this winter or next year?
Enterprises have become increasingly dependent on their networks to deliver applications and data access to users throughout their organization, not only at corporate headquarters but also to branch offices and locations around the world. As employees become increasingly dependent on access to applications to perform their job functions, it is paramount that the Wide Area Network (WAN) provides the highest level of performance possible.
The emergence of WAN optimization in recent years has resulted in significant gains to the enterprise in terms of application performance, reduced network costs, and improved employee productivity and customer satisfaction. To date, the majority of WAN optimization efforts that have been concentrated in branch offices deployments were available primarily as dedicated appliances.
IDC research has found the demand for WAN optimization to be broad based among a large variation in the types of users, types of traffic patterns, and geographical mix of remote offices. As a result, in addition to evaluating the immediate benefit of WAN optimization, customers evaluate a number of factors within their own unique network configuration, including the cost to deploy and manage appliances as well as their relationships and contractual obligations with service providers.
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?
Brad Boston, Cisco Senior Vice President in the Global Government Solutions Group, discusses the recent milestones in Cisco’s Internet Router in Space program, including the first-ever software upgrade of an Internet Protocol router aboard a commercial satellite while in orbit, as well as completing the industry’s first VoIP call made without the use of any terrestrial infrastructure to route the call.