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World, Meet Thor – a Project to Hammer Out a Royalty Free Video Codec

Video codecs remain an area of active research and development. The current generation video codec is H.264 – in widespread usage on the Internet. Cisco has actively worked towards making H.264 the foundation of real-time communications on the web. The next generation codecs are just beginning to emerge. There are two of note – Google’s proprietary VP9 codec, and the industry standard H.265 (HEVC) codec, which is the successor to H.264 (AVC).

Unfortunately, the patent licensing situation for H.265 has recently taken a turn for the worse. Two distinct patent licensing pools have formed so far, and many license holders are not represented in either. There is just one license pool for H.264. The total costs to license H.265 from these two pools is up to sixteen times more expensive than H.264, per unit. H.264 had an upper bound on yearly licensing costs, whereas H.265 has no such upper limit.

These licensing terms preclude usage of H.265 in any kind of open source or freely distributed software application, such as web browsers. They also preclude its usage in freemium products – like WebEx or Cisco Spark – which have versions that users can use for free. Thus, while H.265 is still a good fit for hardware products like our telepresence room systems, it is not something that can serve as a universal video codec across hardware and software. Thus, we believe the industry needs a high quality, next-generation codec that can be used everywhere. Read More »

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What Happens When You Put Cisco Spark on a Bus?

What happens when more than 100 entrepreneurs embark on a 72-hour bus journey to concept, design and pitch the next big tech thing?

With the right flow, pretty much anything they can imagine.

StartupBus is one of the most unusual startup competitions around. In a nutshell, the competition invites the best “Hackers” (programmers and coders), “Hustlers” (business and marketing minds) and “Hipsters” (designers and other creatives) to board a bus and form teams to conceptualize and design a tech-focused prototype or app with all of their hard work culminating in epic pitches to StartupBus judges and investors.

And they only have 72 hours to do it.

Earlier this summer, five buses in North America were a flurry of activity as “Buspreneurs” neglected sleep, overcame motion sickness, and tapped into strong competitive spirits to embrace the intense collaborative energy needed to perfect their pitches. The buses, originating from five regions (Mexico, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West Coast) headed to Nashville for Accelerate, the ultimate “unconference” where the Buspreneurs would make their pitches.

Read More »

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Fog Computing: Bringing Cloud Capabilities Down to Earth

When we think of “cloud” we think of a vast collection of compute, network, and storage capabilities that resides somewhere high above us—a massive repository of functionality that can be accessed from anywhere and any device with enough bandwidth to handle the data flow.

With practically unlimited power and scalability, cloud technology has been a key enabler of the Internet. But the Internet of Things (IoT) demands something more. IoT is a broad collection of sensors, cameras, smartphones, computers, and machines—all connected to and communicating with applications, websites, social media, and other devices. To maximize value, much of the data generated by these “things” must be processed and analyzed in real time. For example, sensors and cameras in and around a large retail store may continuously collect data about customer volume and traffic flow. The store can derive some value from all this data by sending it back to the cloud to analyze long-term trends. But the value is multiplied if the system can process the data locally, in real time, and then act on it immediately by sending more cashiers to the check-out line just before a surge in customer traffic.

This sort of real-time, high-bandwidth application requires a new distributed cloud model that brings cloud networking, compute, and storage capabilities down to earth—to the very edge of the network. My friend Flavio Bonomi has worked tirelessly with both academia and other industry partners to advance the concept of fog, inspired by the way the San Francisco fog extends the cloud to the ground. Fog computing creates a platform—what we call a fog node—that provides a layer of compute, storage, and networking services between end devices “on the ground” and cloud computing data centers. Fog is not a separate architecture; it merely extends the existing cloud architecture to the edge of the network—as close to the source of the data as possible—to enable real-time data processing and analytics. Read More »

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The shifting approach to solving problems

Cisco Live this year in San Diego was full of paradigm shifts for many technologists this year. The overall tech industry is going through many changes that affect all of us. My experience was not unique in that sense. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to Dev Ops and automation to ACI/SDN it is a very exciting time.

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View of the conference center and sky line from the Hilton.

 

With the explosion of connected devices comes the challenge of not only connecting all of these devices but connecting them Read More »

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20th Annual XChange Conference Kicks Off in DC

Gaylord Harbor

One of the many views from the Gaylord National Convention Center, home to the annual XChange Conference for 2015.

I made it into DC yesterday, one day later than intended but happy to take a plane and not make the admittedly short drive from North Carolina. It’s great to be back with The Channel Company for the annual XChange Conference this week.  XChange brings together influential technology vendors, solution provider executives and industry analysts for a three day event each summer.

Each XChange Conference provides valuable insight and advice on what is needed to adapt and succeed in today’s marketplace.  This event is also where the CRN Annual Report Card (ARC) awards are announced each year. Fun side note: This event is also the first one I ever covered as a blogger for Cisco two years ago!

I enjoy these events a great deal because it provides me with an opportunity to meet with Cisco partners in person. I don’t always get a chance to sit down with our partners face to face and it’s always great to catch up and hear what’s important to their business as we move through the year. Much like everyone else at Cisco, I understand that Cisco partner success is Cisco success.

Oddly enough, these events are often a great way for me to meet folks from Cisco who I have worked with but never met. That was the case this week as Cisco’s Peder Ulander, VP, Cloud and Managed Services Partner Organization delivered an opening keynote speech on how to open new doors as a partner.

Peder Presentation

Peder Ulander, VP, Cloud and Managed Services Partner Organization presents at XChange 2015.

Peder clearly showed how disruption in various marketplaces is changing businesses across the board. The world is changing fast and it’s only getting faster. Customers are looking to our partners on how to make those transitions, and our partners need to be prepared to step and lead those transitions.  If you don’t move with the transitions, you’ll end up in a “digital vortex” that sweeps you right out of play.

Cisco offers end-to-end solutions that help our partners move customers through the transitions. With everything in the world becoming connected, partners are becoming software shops that are key to keeping customers viable. Read More »

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