When it comes to making collaboration technology such as high-definition video open and broadly available, it’s clear that the web browser plays an important role. The question is, how do you enable real-time video natively on the Web? It’s a question that folks are anxious to have answered.
WebRTC--a set of enhancements to HTML5--will address the issue head on. But, there is an important hurdle that must first be cleared, and that’s standardizing on a common video codec for real-time communications on the web – something the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will decide next week.
The industry has been divided on the choice of a common video codec for some time, namely because the industry standard--H.264--requires royalty payments to MPEG LA. Today, I am pleased to announce Cisco is making a bold move to take concerns about these payments off the table.
We plan to open-source our H.264 codec, and to provide it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Cisco will not pass on our MPEG LA licensing costs for this module, and based on the current licensing environment, this will effectively make H.264 free for use in WebRTC.
I’m also pleased that Mozilla has announced it will enable Firefox to utilize this module, bringing real-time H.264 support to their browser.
“It hasn’t been easy, but Mozilla has helped to lead the industry toward interoperable video on the Web,” said Brendan Eich, Mozilla Chief Technology Officer. “Cisco’s announcement helps us support H.264 in Firefox on most operating systems, and in downstream and other open source distributions using the Cisco H.264 binary module. We are excited to work with Cisco on advancing the state of interoperable Web video.”
The first time I met Jim Barton (DVR pioneer and TiVo co-founder) I was a young man looking at the hottest company in Silicon Valley in the day: SGI, the place where Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg just arrived to visit, the same building in Mountain View as it were, that same week in late Spring, 1995.
The second question that Jim asked me that day was if I knew H.263 – a fledgling, new specification promising to make video ubiquitous, affordable over any public or private network – oh, those 90’s seem so far away…
For a hard core database, kernel and compiler hacker, that was a bit too much telco chit-chat for me, though remembering this was supposed to be an interview, and that the person who asks the questions is in control, not knowing the answer, I managed to mumble a question instead of an answer. Jim liked the conversation and obliged me with an explanation equally encrypted, that one day, we will have these really cool, ubiquitous players on all sorts of video devices, not just “geometry engines” running workstations in “Jurassic Park” post-production studios (actually, come to think of it, the scene itself), but over all sorts of networked devices and maybe that should be a great opportunity to dive into and change the world.
Open standards and open source live in an entangled relationship, or so I wrote about it years ago, the Yang of Open Standards, the Ying of Open Source. Never has it been more intertwined and somewhat challenging than with the case of H.264, MPEG4 and the years old saga of so-called “standard” video codecs.
Almost a generation later, even if H.263 and its eventual successors H.264 and MPEG4 came a long way, we still don’t have a truly standard and open source implementation of such a video codec, though we are hoping to change that now!
My colleagues announced today that we are open sourcing our H.264 codec. We still have a bit of work left to do as we start this new open source project and I am counting on both communities to receive it with “open” arms. It is meant to remove all barriers, to be truly free and open, as open source was meant to be.
Please join us this morning in a twitter chat covering this event. We are convinced no matter how one looks at this, it is a positive move for the industry.
I talk to customers virtually everyday as part of my job, and even though they thoroughly believe in the operational and transformative benefits of video collaboration, they tell me there’s still more we can do to help simplify the process for implementing video pervasively. So, at Cisco’s Collaboration Summit last week, we unveiled a host of technologies designed to do just that – grease the skids for driving video collaboration everywhere using an intelligent approach that is connected, adaptive and intuitive.
Cisco’s strategy for enabling pervasive video is aligned around three key strategies and, as such, so do our product innovations:
At Cisco, we’re committed to evolving and enhancing the collaboration user experience -- connecting you to the experts you need, regardless of location. But user experience goes beyond that. It’s also thinking about ways to delight you -- with a simpler AND superior user experience. Whether that’s with high-definition voice and video on “every pane of glass”, to sharing content in meetings using your device of choice, to bringing the worlds of personal mobile devices and corporate IT owned and managed closer together.
Given the proliferation of mobile devices that have entered the workplace, you probably don’t find my comments around a focus on user experiences for the mobile worker too surprising. However, what I think might be surprising to you is that we’re placing an equivalent level of commitment to drive innovation on user experiences for the worker at the desk.
Why would we do this? I’ll tell you. Consider primary research we commissioned this past summer of 2300 global enterprise and mid-sized company end users and decision makers. The study indicated 70% of users work primarily from a desk 4-5 days per week. Read More »
The collaboration market is on a transformational journey. Workloads and use cases such as web conferencing, telephony, video, and file sharing that started as separate islands at first, are now rapidly converging. With those islands come complexity of integration and interoperability, which means experiences can suffer.
Two key things Cisco is focused on is making collaboration simple to use, deploy, and buy; and pervasive by reducing cost and extending the value of existing investments. This week we announced Collaboration Systems Release 10 (CSR 10), the first time Cisco is converging voice, video, and content sharing across our portfolio to provide the best possible user experience whether you choose an on-premise, cloud, or fused model.
I’m excited about the fantastic new experiences we are enabling. Here are a few scenarios to help highlight what is now possible:
First Day on the Job
My first day at Cisco, I was told “everything is on the web,” Read More »