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.
This latest release includes enhanced capabilities for redundancy and resiliency when registering endpoints directly to Cisco Unified Call Manager. With this new system, calls can never be lost during a switch. Another great benefit is “active conference control”, where end-users now can take more control of their conference experience from the Cisco Touch User Interface, something that was previously only enabled by an administrator. Also, as part of Cisco’s strong architectural approach on interoperability we are adding support for H.264 SVC to our TC based endpoints. This means we can do native interoperability with other vendor’s solutions like Microsoft Lync 2013 and Polycom endpoints using the H.264 SVC standard.
These new features ensure the best user experience across Cisco TelePresence endpoints.
To hear about the latest enhancements to TC 6.2, watch the video below.
Los Angeles is an extraordinary city with extraordinary people. And this week, it was even more extraordinary to be in my hometown of LA where we hosted this year’s Cisco Collaboration Summit. LA is where we built the world’s biggest airplane, the world’s biggest freeway system, and epic movies with the world’s biggest stars. And of course, the Happiest Place on Earth.
This is a town of big dreamers with big ideas, making it a perfect place to bring together customers, partners, analysts, and consultants to talk about big ideas in collaboration.
And now is the time for big ideas. We all know companies can only do so much with cost cutting. It’s important, but in our global economy, the only true way to differentiate and compete is through innovation.