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Borderless Networks, Video and Medianet: It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN

The announcement earlier this week focused on the Borderless Networks services with new capabilities for Centralized Policy, Unified Management and Automated Video and Voice.  For more information on the announcement, see Marie Hattar’s blog.

Automated Video and Voice highlights the unique capabilities in the network infrastructure to simplify the deployment and optimize the network for video.

Why video? 

Because it is not a question of IF it is coming to Enterprise networks, but WHEN.   As you can see from the chart from Forrester Research (Jan. 2011) the adoption for video applications and technologies is on the significant growth path because they are adding value for businesses.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Network Solutions Deliver Greater Capabilities for Borderless Network Management

This week, a New York Times article focused on retailers and their efforts (or lack thereof) to develop mobile sites and apps to enable anytime-anywhere shopping. One statistic that caught my eye in the article: 85 percent of consumers expect to be able to shop using their smartphones and expect that experience to be at least as good as shopping on a computer. Yet, the article reports that: “By mid-2010, according to the Acquity Group, just 12 percent of the top 500 United States online retailers had sites compatible with mobile browsers, while just 7 percent had apps.”

Whether you’re an IT professional, a business decision maker, an employee, a consumer or customer, the topics of mobile productivity and the connected experience matter, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on.

And that’s why I’m excited to announce our latest launch. As headlines continue to tout the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, businesses need to ensure that they can allow secure access for anyone on any device and deliver rich applications (like video and voice) reliably—all while providing seamless integration across all elements.
In addition, when you factor in emerging cloud trends, the ability to deliver voice and video applications over any device becomes even more critical—not to mention complex from a management standpoint.

Today we’re adding more powerful capabilities to the Borderless Network Architecture to help IT administrators ensure success. Three new major solutions for Borderless Networks help make the network architecture work seamlessly, reliably, and securely to address growing trends and expectations.

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IP SLA Video Operation Part 2 – How to use it? When to use it?

Last week, we introduced the new IP SLA Video Operation tool to assess the readiness of a network by generating synthetic traffic to mimic real applications. When you use IP SLA VO to generate simulated RTP traffic between two sites, you can use the medianet Performance Monitor feature to measure the performance of this synthetic traffic across the network. You can also use Mediatrace to discover the network elements on the paths between the two sites. For each network element discovered in the network path, Performance Monitor can collect metrics to detect potential capacity bottlenecks and proactively identify quality issues.

In addition to the obvious use for pre-deployment assessment, many enterprises understand that the network and applications are constantly changing so it is necessary to do continuous assessments. For example, after a major scheduled network maintenance or upgrade during non-business hours, you can use IP SLA VO to simulate real application traffic and assess the impact of the network changes to minimize potential business disruption or even downtime. Another example is prior to an important event, you can use IP SLA VO to stress test the network and verify that it can handle the rich media traffic without impacting existing application performance.

Whether you are doing an initial assessment for a new deployment, an expansion to an existing deployment, or ongoing operations, IPSLA VO, Performance Monitor and Mediatrace are effective tools to identify and proactively resolve rich media problems across the  network. Put this handy tool in your toolbox and you will like it.

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IP SLA Video Operation – A powerful tool to mimic the real traffic demands on your network

With video increasingly becoming part of how you collaborate, you need to consider the impact of this incremental video on your network. Video brings many new challenges in order to meet user expectations for a flawless quality of experience. So is your network ready for rich media?

IP SLA video operation answers this question by synthetically generating traffic  mimicking real application traffic. The ability to generate realistic RTP stream similar to real life Cisco TelePresence allow you to stress the network and assess the demands these applications will impose on your network. Each type of media application can be expressed for the synthetic media generation system by media application profiles that contain personalities which incorporate characteristics such as bit rate, burst sizes, inter-packet-gaps, etc. These application profiles allow, for example, a catalyst switch to simulate the video playout from multiple places in the network. There may be multiple personalities based on different software versions or configurations of the media application. Cisco will make a set of comprehensive media application profiles available for download. IP SLA video operation, an enhancement to IP SLA, was announced on April 6, 2011 at ISC West in Las Vegas and is first introduced in IOS 12.2(58) SE on Cisco Catalyst 3750 and 3560 series switches. Over time, more products will be implementing this new operation.

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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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