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Video to Video Communication is the Future

In the past decade video communications has moved out of the realm of science fiction to become commonplace in our homes, at work, and on mobile devices. Yet we remain some distance from the goal of video calls being as easy and ubiquitous as phone calls are today – across any network and between all devices.

Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others.  Cisco wants to avoid this future for video communications, and therefore today appealed the European Commission’s approval of the Microsoft/Skype merger to the General Court of the European Union.  Messagenet, a European VoIP service provider, has joined us in the appeal.

We did not take this action lightly. We respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner, and competitor. Cisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications.

This appeal is about one thing only: securing standards-based interoperability in the video calling space. Our goal is to make video calling as easy and seamless as  email is today. Making a video-to-video call should be as easy as dialing a phone number. Today, however, you can’t make seamless video calls from one platform to another, much to the frustration of consumers and business users alike.

Cisco believes that the right approach for the industry is to rally around open standards. We believe standards-based interoperability will accelerate innovation, create economic value, and increase choice for users of video communications, entertainment, and services.

The video communications industry is at a critical tipping point with far reaching consequences. Just three years from now the world will be home to nearly 3 billion Internet users, the average fixed broadband speed will be 28 Mbps, and 1 million video minutes (the equivalent of 674 days) will traverse the internet every second. As video collaboration becomes increasingly mainstream, multiple vendors will have to work together to enable global scale and broad customer choice.

For the sake of customers, the industry recognizes the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators. Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.

At the heart of this opportunity is a question about the model for interoperability. One approach allows each vendor to decide how they will interoperate. Another approach aligns the industry around open standards defined by non-partisan governing bodies. The answer will be critical to whether and how quickly video calls become “the next voice.”

When vendors implement their own protocols and selectively interoperate, they push the burden of interoperability to the customer.  We respectfully request that the General Court act on our concerns and for the European Commission to ensure the proper protections are put in place to encourage innovation and a competitive marketplace.

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Helping the Open Internet to Thrive

Though we often take it for granted, the global data network is one of the wonders of our world.  Without that network, users around the world would not be able to surf the web, post video and text, and communicate with each other using voice, chat, and e-mail.

The success of the global data network rests on interoperability standards that were created by standards development organizations like the IETF, IEEE, ITU-T, and W3C.  In those organizations, expert technologists meet to create the standards that define how different products made by different vendors will work together.  Without standards, the Internet as we know it would not exist.

Cisco is proud that our employees have played leading roles in the creation of interoperability standards, just as they have invented many of the foundational technologies used in the global data network.  As a result of their efforts, Cisco has a portfolio of telecom and networking patents, including patents required to implement widely used interoperability standards, that is second to none.

While we have been at the forefront of networking technology, we recognize that our customers want technically excellent products and products that work well together.  For example, our unified communications customers often use Cisco products for voice and video, but products from our competitors for e-mail or instant messaging.  They are sometimes frustrated when products they purchase from different vendors don’t work well together, or when using products from one vendor forces them to implement proprietary voice or video protocols that do not enjoy broad industry support.   In unified communications, as in other areas, collaboratively developed standards are a common language that products made by different vendors can use to make their products work together, creating a better experience for customers.

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Cisco Announcements at InfoComm 2011: TelePresence Everywhere

Today at InfoComm 2011, Cisco announced several new advancements that make video easier to use and facilitate the adoption and deployment of telepresence across an enterprise. With these announcements, Cisco continues to deliver on our commitment to provide a market-leading high-quality telepresence experience for collaboration. TelePresence is no longer limited to the boardroom, and these new user-friendly features and capabilities make it easier for customers to easily connect and collaborate with others from any location.

Cisco’s Director of Marketing for Cisco TelePresence, Mike Kisch, describes these announcements and the key themes of InfoComm in the video below:

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The Update on Video Interoperability: What’s coming at InfoComm 2011

The countdown continues -- only a few more days until InfoComm begins in Orlando, Florida! We asked Cisco TelePresence VP/ GM Thomas Wyatt to take a few minutes and talk about a topic on every video customer’s mind: interoperability.

In the video below, Thomas describes the customer feedback he’s been hearing, including their biggest pain points when it comes to deploying and using video solutions, as well as his vision for interoperability in the future. Where do we see interoperability in the next 2-3 years?

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Multi-vendor MPLS-TP Interoperability Demonstrated for Packet Transport Networks

Widely deployed from the core to the edge, IP/MPLS has achieved huge success as a mature, standards-based technology now deployed by virtually every service provider worldwide.  As a result, the industry has chosen to extend IP/MPLS and develop a transport profile called MPLS-TP (MPLS Transport Profile). MPLS-TP is the packet transport technology of choice being developed by the IETF to allow service providers to cost effectively migrate existing transport networks to packet based solutions.

Recently EANTC conducted an MPLS-TP Interoperability Event which focused on testing and demonstrating interoperability of key IP/MPLS and Carrier Ethernet features between multiple vendor platforms. This represented a critical technology demonstration for service providers as they begin their migration to packet transport networks.

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