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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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A-E-I-O-U: The Nucleus of Video Collaboration

I’ve been on a journey with my team over the last 18 months to redefine our approach to video collaboration. Vowels form the nucleus of any word, so I call this the A-E-I-O-U approach as it represents the core principles of video collaboration.

Every product we introduced this year has these principles as its backbone. If a product idea doesn’t meet this requirement, it doesn’t even make it to blueprint. The feedback we’ve received from customers and partners tells me we are exactly on the right track.

So what does A-E-I-O-U stand for?

  • A – Affordable
  • E – Easy
  • I – Innovative
  • O – Outstanding Design
  • U – User Centric 

Sounds pretty rudimentary, but it’s not easy to do in reality. It’s like producing a performance engine that’s easy on the eyes with do-it-yourself sensibility, a bunch of really cool features and pragmatic pricing – all in one product. A handful of companies have been able to do this, and Cisco has joined that short list with our latest video collaboration products.

How do we know A-E-I-O-U is working?

Affordable: Read More »

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Turn Meeting Rooms into Collaboration Rooms

These days it’s pretty rare that my meetings include only the people in the room. I work in a global company and my co-workers are spread out across the world. We work successfully together any time and from wherever we are through video collaboration. Video isn’t just a nice bonus: 87% of remote users feel more connected to their team and process when using videoconferencing, according to a recent GigaOm report.

You have conference rooms. Adding video should be easy. We agree. And that’s a big part of the focus for our latest endpoint products, announced last month.

The Cisco MX Series endpoints turn meeting rooms into collaboration rooms. Our design philosophy is what we consider “Scandinavian simplicity meets Californian approachability.”

All these collaboration room systems were built on the same philosophy:

  • Simplicity
  • Appealing design
  • Easy installation
  • Intuitive, consistent user interface
  • Improved quality, performance
  • New intelligent video collaboration experiences

This expansion in the MX Series means you can bring Read More »

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MegaTrends: New Video Services and Their Potential Impact on Your Network – Part 2

In the first part we discussed how video services are evolving within enterprise networks. Content may be sourced from internal servers, BYOD end points or external content providers, thereby creating a mix of managed and unmanaged services. This has led not only to growth in traffic, but also a competition for actual resources between the different types of services.

We have discussed how these services are evolving, now moving to a per application, per session model which ensures that specific resources are allocated depending on the nature of the usage. Tools such as those provided by the medianet architecture, combined with changes in defaulting all traffic within the VPN session back to the corporate network, contribute to this evolution in session management.

Once again, we turn to Thomas Kernen to provide some insight into how recent technology improvements are designed to help with managing video traffic growth and enabling better content distribution models.

Read More »

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From Product Strategy to Implementation

Looking at the history of video collaboration there are a few identifiable transition points.  The introduction of audio and video delivery over IP networks created opportunities for widespread affordable deployments and the video conferencing market began to expand.  The scale of deployments, however, was in general neither large nor pervasive.  In 2006/2007 new offerings (like the CTS 3000 from Cisco’s TelePresence team) introduced highly reliable, full HD (1080p), full motion (30fps) experiences with a level of simplicity making it operable by any user irrespective of technical knowledge.  As Full HD became available across the breadth of video conferencing platforms, the whole market rapidly doubled over the following two to three years.  This created another market pillar in collaboration.

Push the clock forward 6 or so years to today…

The distinction between video conferencing, unified communications and web conferencing is now very blurred:

  • The user community has matured.  They are no longer satisfied with connecting over audio, video or content.  They want to achieve the startup experience of small, tightly connected teams across a geographically dispersed workforce.  This means leveraging all of the above features where and when needed, in a simple and intuitive way.
  • IM, presence, audio, video and content collaboration are becoming Read More »

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