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The Coming Converged Experience

We’ve talked about convergence for some time now. It’s been one of the most popular buzz words for our industry over the past decade and even spawned a few tradeshows of the same name to capitalize on the trend. First, it referred to networks, with some of the largest service providers in the world bringing together dozens of service-specific networks to a single IP Next Generation Network. (Come on now, you can’t deny IP is cool when it can do that!)

Now with a single platform, providers were able to more cost-effectively expand their offers to include those of other segments -- the converged service provider could grow by not just offering, say traditional voice but move into video as well. Cable companies moved into voice, and just about everyone wanted a piece of the mobility gold rush.

Then, once that industry evolution gained traction, convergence was largely used in reference to services. New offerings such as Cisco TelePresence and others were no longer just a voice service, a video service, or a data service -- but in actuality all three at the same time. This blended offer by a provider the worked against our nicely defined industry segmentation of cable, mobile, wireline providers, and led to an increased focus on converged technology of which Cisco spend quite literally billions of dollars each year to develop.

Converged platforms such as the ASR 1000 eliminated the need to have a half dozen different platforms doing separate functions and, instead, allowed a single platform to do them all at once, in a form factor only a few inches high.

Lately, the convergence theme is getting more and more buzz around devices. The iPhone gets credit for much of that, because after all, “there is an app for that” tagline does ring true. My phone now doesn’t just give me an ability to do email or rudimentary web surfing but allows me to track flights/listen to my music/find restaurants/occupy the attention of my bored 4 year old in the back seat of our car…..and it makes calls. Quite a bit of value.

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IP Video: Bridging Legacy to Now

In this brief interview shot on the floor of the Cable Show in Los Angeles, Cisco CTO of Service Provider Video Technology Group, Ken Morse discusses the elements of making the IP video transition.

Personal computers, laptops, game consoles, portable screens -- feeding them video means plumbing the pipe for Internet Protocol.

For cable operators, it’s a big transition, but an entirely feasible one. After all, it uses the broadband infrastructure they put in place more than a decade ago that gave rise to broadband and high-speed data services via cable modems.

In other words, transitioning more traffic to IP doesn’t mean building entirely new infrastructure. Rather, it means augmenting one of the several distribution mechanisms operators already employ, to carry video.

Cisco is a big part of the traditional and IP-based equipment foundation used by cable providers, and we have been there supporting our cable partners through analog television, standard definition digital television, and HDTV. IP is but another chapter in the video timeline.

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The Future of IP Video and DOCSIS: John Chapman, Part Two

John Chapman, Cisco Fellow and Chief Architect, discusses the viability of DOCSIS 3.0 versus all-fiber implementations, in this Part 2 interview from the floor of The Cable Show in Los Angeles.

What’s a better roadmap: DOCSIS or all-fiber? It’s a complicated debate. Our view is that the wide-ranging cable modem specification known as DOCSIS will continue to be foundational to advanced IP services.

Ultimately, the progression goes like this: Today’s DOCSIS-based cable modems are capable of 10′s of megabits per second (Mbps), in residential broadband services. DOCSIS 3.0 expands that range to hundreds of Mbps. Laboratory experimentation at Cisco suggests that a Gigabit per second DOCSIS offering is entirely feasible.

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The Future of IP Video and DOCSIS: John Chapman, Part One

As multichannel video providers beeline toward an IP-based service infrastructure, they seek capacity, efficiency and QoE, notes John Chapman, Cisco Fellow and Chief Architect, who was interviewed on the floor of The Cable Show, in Los Angeles.

If you’re thinking about how multichannel video shifts to IP transport, from MPEG transport, you’re probably already well-versed in the language of DOCSIS 3.0, and its channel bonding features.

Bonding multiple 6 MHz channels together is the foundation for a multicast, IP version of today’s linear broadcast offerings. In doing so, cable operators dramatically expand their shelf space for multi-screen, multi-format video offerings.

Likewise, by converging video services into one, IP-based pipe, cable operators save in operational and capital expense. And, over time, as more MPEG-based video streams shift into the IP domain, their bandwidth can be recovered and applied to other applications.

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Managing the Cloud

Since my last posting on Real Time Services, I have been thinking about the Internet being at an inflection point, specifically, the impact to sustainable architecture development due to content distribution that is relevant for consumers. Recall, from the April blog post that characterizing “real time” could be in the form of video, telepresence, voice, on-line games as examples, where mitigating latency is a must e.g. between clients-servers; agreement on what the optimal communications protocol should be and so on in order to deliver these services as expected by the consumer.

No doubt that managing the user experience is pivotal for customer retention.

As we shift the discussion to cloud computing, what are the implications to “cloud management,” to SLA management and so on? Let’s not forget the implications to security.

Next week I will be speaking at the TM Forum Management World on May 20, 2010, and on June 3 at Cloud Telco 2010 in Paris France.

I expect that these topics of management and security will be at the core of discussions in the above venues.

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