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Cisco on Cisco: The Video Avalanche is here… Medianet to the rescue!

Cisco’s business is going through a transformation and the company is relying on Rich Media tools such as Collaboration and Video to cut costs, increase employee productivity and improve operational efficiencies.

As of July 2011, there are a total of about 1250 high end Cisco Telepresence systems and another 6000+ Tandberg based Telepresence and video endpoints. The total number could grow to 25,000 in the next 18-24 months. Also, the use of video with WebEx is growing every day. The company is also leveraging video technologies for live meetings such as the Global Sales meeting that brings together 20,000+ employees virtually for two days. Use of Video on Demand technologies is increasing through video blogs, show and share and other employee and customer engagement applications. Digital Media Systems have become a key part of the employee communication strategy and the Safety and Security team is also upgrading several thousands of new security cameras.

 All of these bring tremendous challenges to IT, especially to the Infrastructure teams. Architecting, Designing and Operating the network for this large scale, global video deployment has made the IT Infrastructure teams think through their plans.

Cisco IT is rolling out the Medianet architecture to address many of these challenges.

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New approach to ensure quality user experience for rich media applications: use routers, switches and ‘smart’ endpoints to monitor the real traffic flow

User satisfaction is the ultimate metric for performance evaluation of rich media services. The only way to be sure of delivering highest quality of experience is by actually measuring quality of experience. Therefore, it is not surprising that most IT managers identify application performance as their single most critical problem.

Many traditional performance monitoring solutions are delivered as appliances. Although an increasing number of solutions are deployed on virtual machines or in some cases cloud offerings are available, there are nevertheless ongoing administrative  overhead. Monitoring is best done pervasively unless you already know in advance where all the problems are going to be. Deploying these traditional monitoring solutions  typically only provide partial view as it is not possible to deploy probes everywhere.

With IOS Performance Monitor, first made available in IOS 15.1(3)T, we introduced a new innovative approach to performance monitoring. A Cisco network element is embedded with native monitoring capabilities. It can collect packet loss, jitter, delay and response time information for performance evaluation of data, voice and video services. This approach effectively turns every network element as probe providing the most extensive visibility because all the flows must go through the network. This approach eliminates the need for deploying flow data collection solutions external to the network devices which would lead to increased costs for data collection and operation expense.  Now, network managers can continue to leverage their Cisco IP network assets, resulting in substantial savings.

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Must read for getting started on medianet media monitoring!

For network operators who want to get started on the Medianet features Mediatrace and Performance Monitor the QuickStart Guide is a must read!
 
The Quick Start guide takes you on ‘tour de CLI’ and walks you step by step through the configuration of Mediatrace and Performance Monitor. It contains many show command examples and explains how to read them.
 
Furthermore, the guide provides insights under the hood of Performance Monitor and Mediatrace. This information about the mechanics of Media Monitoring you will not find in a manual!

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Medianet Service Discovery and Auto-Registration: Building the dynamic media system – Part 2

August 9, 2011 at 10:40 am PST

In the first part of this blog we discussed the transition from unified communications to pervasive video and the use of service discovery mechanisms and auto-registration.

Over time, the use of service discovery and registration protocols will become pervasive across rich media endpoints to simplify and automate deployment. It provides the foundation by which applications can then automate other aspects of configuration on the endpoints. One example would be to have a set top box not only automatically discover and register to its nearest content server but also to provide other information such as location to enable the automatic selection and streaming of the right content for that particular set top box. Network service discovery and registration provides the basic infrastructure to enable a fully automated application deployment; achieving true plug and play deployment.

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Medianet Service Discovery and Auto-Registration: Building the dynamic media system – Part 1

August 3, 2011 at 10:09 am PST

We’re already seeing the beginnings of the transition from unified communications to pervasive video. Companies are not only starting to leverage video to enhance their communication experience but also they are finding new and innovative ways to leverage video to improve business operation and improve customer interaction. You only have to walk into a retail store or get on public transport to see video being used at the heart of the customer experience. As video becomes more ubiquitous this will drive two trends that impact how video endpoints and applications are deployed.

The first is the need to simplify deployment of those IP enabled endpoints. Deploying large numbers of video endpoints, often in a diverse range of locations and by personnel who are not skilled in IT and network deployment. We’ve already seen enhancements in earlier versions of medianets that enable devices such as surveillance cameras and digital media players that enable the installer to plug the devices in and have the network configuration automatically applied to the switch port. This simplifies the network configuration but challenges still remain in configuring the endpoint or application to connect to and register to application services. To address this issue, there are a number of service discovery mechanisms that can enable a newly deployed endpoint or application to automatically discover and register to its application server.

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