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My Top 5 IBC 2010 Observations

Always a pleasure to visit Amsterdam, even though every year it seems the cab fares from the hotel to the RAI center get more random (€11 on the first day, €15 on the second, €20 on the third…I had to cry uncle at 25!)

This year’s event served as a predictably solid playground and portend of “What’s Big” for the foreseeable future. Here’s my quick view of the Top 5 IBC 2010 trends:

  1. Connectible Everything: TV isn’t just for TV anymore, that’s for sure. Little screens, medium screens, big screens – all with IP plumbing, all shouldering in for a shot at becoming a viable new way to experience television. From smart phones to iPads and tablets, to laptops, PCs and “old fashioned HDTV’s,” the way ahead is strewn with connected devices, all wanting to be video-proficient.
  2. Remote Control Variations: Sure, we’ve been seeing gesture-based navigation for a while now, but mostly as an oddity; a cool-but-expensive-looking side show. Seems more real now. Ditto for free-space remotes. Watch for this to pop even bigger in early November, when Microsoft releases its Xbox Kinect – think Wii without the handhelds.
  3. Point That Thing Anywhere: Speaking of remotes, it also seems like we’re on a brink, of sorts, in how the TV remote “talks” to the TV. Forever and ever, we’ve used infrared. Now, more and more RF, and even Blu-Tooth. It means this: We’ll no longer have to point directly at the set-top or TV. Aim the thing backwards over your head, still get a channel change. Not quite Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar behind his back, but close.
  4. Goodbye, Grid-Guide: More screens wanting to be video-proficient necessitates a navigation environment that’s suitable for different screen sizes. If you’re a service provider wanting to extend subscription video to those connected devices, you’ll need a way to keep your look-and-feel, on screens measuring 2.5 inches, up to the 50-inch flat-screen.
  5. Soft Landing, Please: Connectible everything is great, but not if it means ripping out and replacing the triple-digit millions of legacy digital devices, already installed in homes around the world. Migrating to IP video – not flash-cutting – is a big deal for anyone sitting on the giant capital investment that is legacy set-tops and modems.

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Online Video: Quality, Content or Both?

During IBC 2010, 3DTV dominated much of the conversation with most of the chatter centered around topics like market uptake, screen size and the technology improvements needed to improve image quality.

When you think of how far technology has come during the last 20 years, or even the last ten, it is extraordinary to think of the leaps-and-bounds we have seen when it comes to video delivery and quality. Many could not have forecasted the boom of the iPhone, flat screen HDTV’s and how magical movies like Avatar and other pixilated movies would become – real life and video life are getting ever closer it seems. It is becoming increasingly evident that video and improved digital imagery is here to stay – there is no turning back.

That got me thinking about what do consumers REALLY want? Is it the quality of video or the actual content itself? Certainly, there has to be a minimal threshold for quality, right? And, can we expect both?

Now I have to admit that I still have at least 2 “old school” TV sets, and the quality is far less superior than what is provided by my plasma. But truth be told, if I am desperate to watch my home team’s football game on Saturday (Hook ’em), and it conflicts with my son’s soccer game, I can prioritize and have many options that fit my lifestyle and viewing needs. While big screen is great, I must admit I would watch that game on my 2 inch iPhone screen or any screen for that matter no matter the size, black and white or color screen – it would make little difference. I could also DVR it and watch it when I get back home. If I lived in the UK, I could enjoy 7 day playback with BBC’s iplayer. Or, if I am a subscriber to any one of the Tier 1 operators’ TV service in the US, I can login with my laptop and view it online.

I have choices.

I like choices.

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Differentiated Services from the Service Provider Cloud

Service Providers have a growing opportunity in the delivery of cloud services, which Cisco IBSG forecasts as a $48.8 Billion worldwide in 2013. Service Providers who best differentiate their offerings to the emerging needs of their customers will take market share and out-compete other providers with a “one size fits all” approach to cloud services.

Cisco’s strategy for service providers is to use a common platform for all services; we call this Unified Service Delivery (USD). USD combines the capabilities of the Service Provider Data Center with the IP Next Generation Network to deliver secure virtual services. Unified Service Delivery combines virtual machines on our Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus networking in the data center with core routing with the CRS-3.  Cisco offers Service Providers a number of services  delivered over  USD which include Hosted Communications & Collaboration; Infrastructure as a service. 

Cisco’s Data Center Business Advantage architectural framework for enterprises, announced earlier this week, introduces new solutions, services, and infrastructure to enable rapidly deployable, scalable and reusable infrastructure. These capabilities will also be available for use by Service Providers in delivering differentiated cloud services as part of Cisco’s Unified Service Delivery Solution.

Services which were once delivered by a dedicated physical infrastructure are increasingly deployed on demand from virtual infrastructure.  Unified Service Delivery allows these virtualized services to be delivered by a common platform supporting end-to-end virtualized infrastructure, and for virtual appliances to be delivered on demand by our Unified Computing System.  Building on the success and capabilities of our Nexus 1000v virtual switch, new virtual devices and services are now available as virtual appliances including:

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IBC 2010: IBC Wrap Up & Key Takeaways

In a final post from the show floor (ok, really it’s the exit this time), I give some parting thoughts on the Cisco team’s past few days and some key themes and takeaways resulting from the more than 250 customer meetings, and yes, I do say that devices are becoming less relevant and I use the “e” word liberally.

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Validation of Cisco IP Next Generation Mobile Network

The mobile communications market is in a great state of transition.

Mobile operators’ are addressing a variety of new opportunities and challenges that are impacting their business architecture. To take advantage of the business opportunities and address the challenges requires a technical architecture that delivers high performance, high intelligence and high availability.

Cisco recently accepted a challenge from Light Reading and testing firm EANTC to submit to an independent, public test of a complete network capable of supporting all generations of mobile network technologies, while delivering the capabilities and attributes that are required in this evolving market.

Light Reading and EANTC test Cisco's next-gen Mobile NetworkThe second of the two part series Testing Cisco’s Mobile Core, Data Center & Business Services was posted last week by Light Reading.

The test looked at our comprehensive IP next-generation mobile network, including mobile backhaul, which encompassed solutions from cell sites to the mobile service nodes; the network core, which looked at connections among service functions and to the Internet; and the “mobile core” or in other words, the intelligent packet gateways.

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