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Mediascope

March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am PST

A few weeks ago, we introduced a new tool for network operators called mediatrace. On the router and switches, a mediatrace report presents several stanzas of data collected along a particular path. While the report is useful, there is a very high information density and the network operator could overlook an important item at a casual glance.

Mediascope was created as an intern project at Cisco to help in the visualization of mediatrace data. Mediascope uses the IOS Web Services Management Agent (WSMA) interface to execute mediatrace commands. As a flash based tool, mediascope can be hosted on a regular web server in your network and be available for general users (well except for ipad/iphone!).

The user initially logs into the mediascope tool with a mediascope specific password. Then the target router is identified and credentials for that node are provided. At this point, the user can ask mediascope to dynamically configure IOS performance monitor to discover the flows traversing the target router. The discovered flows are dynamically displayed in a list allowing the user to select the interesting flow and then continue on to the specific metrics to be gathered (lower part of Figure 1 below).

Figure 1. Mediascope Flow selection and Data Retrieval Selection

Figure 2. Mediascope Result Visualization

In Figure 2, we can see the result of the mediatrace run. Note from Figure 1 that the y-axis in the chart is selectable, as are the meanings of the color. In our example, the height of the circles conveys number of IP packets seen for the monitored flow, size conveys CPU utilization, and conditional coloring based on number of packets lost and jitter values. Of course, a much simpler chart could be constructed, but we wanted to show how easily very dense information could be represented.

Using the chart the operator is able to quickly identify the node that is at high CPI, but also the node that seems to be seeing packet loss.

We had a lot of fun creating mediascope. Check out our multi-language demos on YouTube!  We invite you to make your own audio version- with the challenge of no English words at all. I’m hoping we’ll see one in Klingon soon!

Mediascope demo: English German Spanish

Mediascope is open sourced under the BSD license.

http://medianet.sourceforge.net/

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IOS Performance Monitor – A powerful tool for negotiating SLA with your Service Provider

The only way to be sure of delivering highest quality of experience is by actually measuring QoE of real traffic. In IOS 15.1.3T, we introduced a new embedded monitoring capability to collect packet loss, jitter, delay and response time information for performance evaluation of data, voice and video services. The feature is called IOS Performance Monitor.  (See yesterday’s blog on User Traffic Analysis by Medianet performance Monitor.)   

In December of last year, Cisco IT was running a medianet pilot program for the new IOS performance monitor feature as their ongoing effort to provide high quality and improved services to end users. The pilot was designed to support 50 remote sites equipped with the ISR-891 routers. Two of the pilot sites were small Cisco offices and the remaining was home offices. I was lucky enough to be selected for the pilot.

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User Traffic Analysis by Medianet Performance Monitor

February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm PST

Network operators are tasked with providing a foundation network that can deliver a variety of applications to their users at any time. For the most part, the network is in the background, humming away while users enjoy the applications. However; once in a while, the application will slow down, or hiccup, and the first suspect is usually the network.

Figure 1 - Poor video quality caused by packet loss.

Sometimes this is not without just cause; the network may be composed of various administrative domains in various states of work, and many things that are outside the domain of control of any network operator (bad fiber, rain clouds, bulldozers, floods etc.). There is the common experience of the ping test passing, but still something wrong within the network. Or the other case, where the ping fails intermittently, but there is no clue about the location of the problem.

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Medianet Readiness Assessment: Is your network ready for medianet?

Video applications such as telepresence, desktop video conferencing, video surveillance, digital signage and WebEx have become an essential part of the enterprise work environment, greatly improving efficiency and productivity in organizations.

Enterprise network IT operators are adding more and more of these applications on their IP network. Due to the nature of video traffic, these applications exert more demand on the existing IP network. If a network is not capable of handling these applications, then the application performance will degrade, resulting in a frustrating user experience. In this situation most of the network operators will tend to solve this problem by adding more bandwidth and capacity into the network, but that may not always solve this problem. 

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Where are you? Location and Media – How location awareness will affect rich media applications

February 14, 2011 at 7:53 am PST

Does it really matter where you are? Increasingly it might; even for the rich media applications that customers are starting to deploy on their networks. Location services are already emerging as a powerful transformative force in consumer electronics. Smartphone applications can already use your location to do anything from finding you the nearest Thai restaurant to locating the nearest available parking space. Increasingly essential tools for modern life in the big city. But location is also emerging as a subtle and yet important service when applied to rich media applications.

Modern network infrastructure is increasingly able to pass location information to connected endpoints enabling a new range of location based endpoint services. At the mundane level, these location services are useful in logistical management of rich media applications. For surveillance, the ability to locate and track the movements of IP surveillance cameras enables improvements to dynamic asset tracking and loss prevention. This doesn’t just apply to the increasing number of wireless IP surveillance cameras but also to wired cameras. Relying on a connectivity test may enable an administrator to check whether a camera is still active but that’s no guarantee that the camera is still located in the correct location and is monitoring the right “scene.” For digital signage applications prevalent in retail and entertainment venues, the most common method of determining which content should be streamed to a particular media endpoint is usually based on location. The media endpoint located in the lobby of a sports stadium is highly likely to be playing media content which differs from that sent to a player in an executive suite. By applying location services, dynamically learnt from the network, it’s possible to automate the provisioning of these media endpoints and even ensures that the correct content is played, even if the endpoint is moved from one location to another.

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