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Virtualization Technology for the Real World, Today

A few years ago at Mobile World Congress (well more than a few, perhaps…), I was speaking with the CTO of a top tier Mobile Operator about a newly emerging technology called IMS.  It seemed that every vendor was promising how IMS was going to change the world.  This very wise CTO stated that he needs to see a tangible benefit or value from a new technology to be interested.  “I will only buy a new technology if you can show me how it can (a) do something I cannot do today, or (b) improve the way I am doing something today.  I will not buy technology for the sake of technology.”  This simple axiom is a great lens to look through as one views all new technologies – and that is certainly the case for the current industry discussion around Virtualization – or more accurately from Cisco’s perspective on the topic, Virtualization and Orchestration.

But instead of joining in with the multitudes talking about the wonders of the technology, arguing around technical specs or nomenclature, the lesson from the CTO instead guides me to talk about what it can do for the service provider business.

That’s why our announcement today of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform has a decidedly business bent.  Yes, it is a Read More »

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Cloud DVR: Reaching back in time for the shows you’ve missed

Some of us still remember, in the pre-DVR days, when missing an episode of your favorite show meant it was lost forever -- unless you chanced upon it in reruns. Even when technology allowed us to book content for recording, whether by VCR or DVR, you had to plan beforehand what you intended to record. The next generation of TV recording technology allowed us to “pause” live viewing and resume at our leisure, thanks to a review buffer that knew to record in the background whatever we happened to be watching. But what if you could spontaneously decide to go back in time – minutes, hours or even days – and view whatever content you missed?

Cloud DVR, one of the latest offerings from Cisco Videoscape Solutions, brings the latest time-shift technology home. An extension of Videoscape Video Everywhere, Cloud DVR leverages cloud technology to store content on a scale impossible for traditional DVRs to replicate. How much content can be stored? Enough for a viewer to browse the programming grid and view any program broadcast over the previous three days.

Enabling this technology is a Content Distribution Network which continually stores broadcast content with high availability and performance. And it’s not just for traditional TV viewing. Because Cloud DVR runs on the multi-device Video Everywhere platform, recently broadcast content can be made retroactively available on any device.

Several new Cloud DVR features take advantage of this technology. Restart TV allows you to view any event from the beginning, no matter when you tuned to it. Catchup TV, a souped-up version of Restart TV, makes available the previous three days of broadcasts. A complementary product, Reverse EPG allows you to search back in time for content previously broadcast. And you can now Pause Live TV even if you don’t have a DVR, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected viewing interruptions. . Because the content is derived from the same cloud-based source, you can pause viewing on one device and resume viewing from the exact same point on a different device.

Cloud-based storage offers several additional advantages:

  • Storing more content -- storage capacity is no longer limited to the disk size of your DVR.
  • Storing multiple shows broadcast simultaneously – no need to worry if your DVR is tied up with multiple recordings
  • Scheduling, managing and accessing stored content from multiple devices
  • No need for a hardware upgrade

Sound good? This solution is on its way. The biggest hurdle to implementation, however, may not be perfecting the technology, but rather the legal implications. One particularly thorny issue, particularly in US markets, is the legality of retrieving content that has already been broadcast. Under current US law, individual customers must request their own copies of a recording. As a result, VOD content can be viewed, but copy-protection arrangements severely curtail the amount of broadcast content that a viewer can legally retrieve and view. Resolution of the legal issues surrounding the viewing of recently broadcast content is shaping up as a major factor in how soon and to what extent we’ll see Cloud DVR introduced to our homes.

Link: An analyst discusses the future of Cloud DVR (posted on YouTube by Cisco):

For more information about the Cisco Cloud DVR, click here.

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Behind the Scenes of Cloud DVR

In the three months that passed between this year’s Cable Show, in Washington, D.C., and this week’s IBC conference, in Amsterdam, one thing is certain: Cloud DVR. It’s on.

Comcast started the buzz, with its X2 platform. Ever since, we’ve seen a surge of interest in cloud DVR from service providers around the globe.  Directionally, it’s gone from “that sounds interesting, let’s keep an eye on it,” to “we need to do this — let’s get a proof of concept going.”

That’s all good news for us, of course, and seems a good reason to share a few observations we’ve made along the way, as cloud DVR services go to market.

One: Linear parity matters, especially for advertising. If ever you want to create an instant imbroglio, tell the people in the ad sales department that the new service – cloud DVR, in this case – doesn’t provide linear parity. Put another way: Support for basic ad zones is a table stake, when it comes to cloud DVR.

So: Putting DVR services in Read More »

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The Cloud, the TV, and The Cable Show

ConradBy Conrad Clemson, VP of strategy, Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group 

Well, we’re nothing if not patient. For those of us who’ve been active in cable VOD (video on demand) since it began, 12+ years ago, it’s totally great to finally see glimmers of acknowledgement for the category. It’s like knowing your kid is truly gifted at something, but not seeing validation of it until a dozen years after it seemed “time.”

I’m talking about this item, from the May 20 edition of the New York Times. Titled “Viewers Start to Embrace Television on Demand,” it plucks out all kinds of killer data points — like the fact that VOD views of ABC shows are up 32% (without fast-forward) over the last year. Cisco’s own VNI forecast issued 5/29 shows that VOD will be the fastest growing and highest penetrated residential TV service globally, with 402 million subscribers, reaching 29% of digital TV households globally by 2017.

Of course what started as movies on demand has changed over the years. It’s now more like Read More »

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