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Deep Thoughts with Dr. Ken: Virtualization & Videoscape

Dr. Ken MorseContributed By Ken Morse, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group

It’s probably not all that surprising, given the state of the video marketplace these days, that what’s top of mind for me is the migration of video to IP (Internet Protocol) everything.

At this point, I think we’re all fairly clear on what the end game looks like – pick any definition you favor about “TV Everywhere” and “the four Anys” (anytime, anywhere, any thing, any device). I think we can all agree that that’s where we’re headed.

The challenge now is that so many different paths exist to get there. As usual!, right? Differences between service providers exist for understandable reasons: Starting position (which options were selected for bandwidth creation/preservation?), plant configuration (switched or not?), and economics (what’s the budget?)

As a vendor, one of the bigger challenges in building products for the IP video migration is identifying which elements to put in the toolbox, to support all of the different ways service providers are considering. There’s the QAM termination approach, there’s the “run high-speed data to the hilt” approach, and several other options in the middle.

My view is, serve them all by gradually “virtualizing” the elements in the toolbox.  Encapsulate the functionalities of a particular component – whatever it is – and then instantiate those same functionalities on another device.

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Super. Simple. Introducing the Cisco ASR 9000 System

The industry’s flagship Edge router, the Cisco ASR 9000 Series, just got bigger and better.  Today, we’re announcing  an expansion of the series with the Cisco ASR 9922 and the Cisco ASR 9000v.  But this is far more than just adding some cool new boxes to the family (though they are quite cool…)  Rather, this is about how they all work together as one, creating a Cisco ASR 9000 System…which has massive capacity of up to 96 Terabits per second – that’s more for the edge of the network than the original CRS-1 delivered to the core when it was introduced.  To put this capacity in perspective, with 96 Tbps, a single Cisco ASR 9000 System:

  • Could  stream recordings of all Super Bowls, World Cup, and Cricket World Cup matches ever played in less than one second – in high definition;
  • Every man, woman and child in Beijing, London and Moscow (~43 million people) could watch a HD video movie – simultaneously;
  • 180,000 DVD’s could be downloaded every minute, and
  • the entire library of congress could be downloaded in 4 seconds

Truly Super.

It’s able to achieve such an incredible level of capacity – more than 36x that of the competitive offerings – because of the new nV technology which helps the various ASR 9000 units act as a system.  This Cisco innovation connects all of these different units – two primary the Cisco ASR 9922/9010/9006 units + over 1900 Cisco ASR9000v units – together, and operates them as a single “super” unit, breaking the boundaries of the Edge, Aggregation and Access parts of the network.  Like, say a bank with ATMs, all the intelligence resides centrally in the primary units but is able to service the needs of many different, disparate remote locations with the same high quality of experience.  This unique systems approach makes it easier for the operator to manage because it acts not as 1900 different unit but rather as a single, integrated one.  New software update?  No problem – nV technology distributes it easily from the central location, preventing operators from having to individually update 1900 different ones.

Truly Simple.

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CMAP, CESAR, Whatever It Takes

By Mark Palazzo, VP/GM, Cable Access Business Unit, Cisco Systems

One of the more nuanced aspects of hard-core technological developments in the cable industry these recent months is the “CMAP v. CESAR” debate. Haven’t heard of it? Boiled way down, it’s a different set of viewpoints about the best way to migrate to a converged CMTS and universal edge QAM architecture, in conjunction with cable’s HFC (hybrid fiber-coax) plant migration.

To put this in historical context, cable operators “went digital” in phases. Digital video was first, followed by broadband data via cable modems, followed fairly shortly after by voice over IP. Operators use a form of modulation called “QAM” (quadrature amplitude modulation) to get video, data and voice signals over the plant to subscribing homes and businesses.

At issue was simple market timing: Digital video vendors built QAM products specifically to support video; broadband-side vendors built different QAM products, for high-speed data; and voice equipment vendors built QAM based TDM products for voice. The proprietary data and voice products where later replaced with the standardized DOCSIS CMTS platform. Read More »

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IP Traffic to Quadruple by 2015

Cisco VNI InfographicOne of the busiest times of the year for my team comes every June when we release the Cisco Visual Networking Index which forecasts IP Traffic growth around the globe.  Now in its 5th year, the forecast, which initially started as a internal project to guide our own engineers as they innovate the next generation of networking infrastructure, has now grown to be an innovation in its own right, helping to provide data for our service provider customer and regulatory bodies alike (not to mention press, analysts, and IP groupies like yours truly.)

The top level finding of this Cisco VNI Forecast, which spans from 2010 to 2015 is that total worldwide IP traffic will increase 4x by 2015, reaching 966 exabytes or just under 1 Zettabye (which is 10 to the 21st power)  To put context to rising demand of IP over the last several years, we have had to change the unit of measurement several times just to keep up with the growth…. First it we measured traffic in terms of Petabytes… then moved to Exabytes… and now are embarking on Zettabytes…(looking ahead, we’ll eventually start to use the term Yottabyte…)

Factors that are driving this growth, include:

  • Video, as it is increasingly a part of nearly every networked experience.  By 2015, one million minutes of video – nearly two years worth – will cross the network every second.
  • More devices are connecting to the network – we forecast more than 15 billion will be on the network by 2015, making it on average more than two devices (whether it be a PC, phone, TV, or even machine-to-machine) per person for every person on earth (and if you’re like me, you’re an “overachiever” on this number, with well over a dozen devices connected to the network…by the way, just how many network connections are you responsible for?) Read More »

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Cisco Unified Computing System Achieves a Major Milestone

Infographic: Cisco UCS Market ShareIt’s been an exciting two years since we introduced the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) solution to the world. UCS provides virtualized compute and networking with simple management. I want to congratulate our service provider customers on their successes in delivering differentiated services, with UCS as the foundation, in their markets. I would also like to extend our thanks to our business partners, both channel partners and those with complementary product offerings, for their expertise and ability to help accelerate this truly innovative idea across the data center and cloud industry.

In two short years, Cisco has risen to the #3 player in the fastest growing segment of the x86 server market.

Released yesterday, the IDC press release on Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker Q1 2011 highlights the UCS uptake by our customers and partners and shows a great start to our vision for UCS in every SP, enterprise, and public sector organization looking for a world-class scalable, flexible, and powerful converged server platform. The rapid growth from launch to #3 in the industry for x86 blade servers in such a short time indicates two points:  First, that the data center industry was crying out for real technology innovation and, second, that innovative customers are willing to embrace a new paradigm when the business benefits delivered are compelling.

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