Enterprises are beginning to take video seriously and its integration into every day business is starting to become commonplace. Rich media collaboration is no longer just about video conferencing, it now covers everything from Telepresence to desktop video with existing web conferencing solutions adopting video as part of the user experience. Added to this, we have digital signage in retail stores and sports stadiums and corporate TV solutions to get messages out to the troops. Even long standing solutions like surveillance are migrating from their closed circuit environments and migrating to IP based infrastructures to gain the benefits of cost reduction and a common physical security platform. The common denominator to these trends is the converged IP network. Just as it was for unified communications and the migration of TDM voice to IP voice, the same transition is occurring for rich media applications. But the question is how ready are today’s Enterprise networks to support these new demands and what will the industry need to do to deliver multiple concurrent rich media applications on the same infrastructure?
The network matters. Without it many of the devices and applications we use in our daily lives would not be available. Without the right quality, they would not be attractive or usable. This holds true for voice, data, and video networks, and even more so for converged networks.
At Cisco our approach is to make the network a platform for experiences. When a functionality is better handled out of the device or application, because of optimization or capacity concerns, we make it available in the network. When devices or applications come with new capabilities, we make sure the network recognizes them and makes them available end to end.
This simple philosophy is very far reaching, and we are seeing its benefits with Medianet. It is easy to understand why auto-configuration, call admission control for video, and session recording, just to pick a few, are services which enable multiple applications while maintaining consistency and allowing optimal use of the network capabilities and bandwidth.
A few weeks ago at Cisco’s Collaboration Summit we announced new solutions. They all drive value from the network, including VXI, the Virtual Experience Infrastructure. In very novel ways, Cisco is aiming at making virtualization easier, and delivering a better user experience at a lower cost. This is what the Cisco network is all about.
Higher quality in video is obtained by using higher resolutions, more colors (increased bits per pixel), spatial audio (multiple audio channels and higher sampling rates), and multiple displays. All of these parameters increase demand for bandwidth — in turn increasing the sensitivity to degraded network conditions.
With video, when the impairments become apparent, the experience of the session deteriorates very quickly. Users are easily disturbed by poor video quality — and the bandwidth burden of video means that even slight deterioration of services within the network can significantly affect the video experience. Similarly, with video, the accompanying audio experience must be satisfactory and synchronization with the video must be consistent — and even more stringent requirement.
Video applications can be very sensitive to aspects of network performance. After the video has been packetized for IP transport, the network’s contribution to the video stream’s performance is generally limited to delay, jitter, and loss.
Delays arise from physical limits (speed of light) as well as queuing mechanisms in routers and gateways that the packets traverse along the way. When delay increases above 400 milliseconds (camera to display), people become aware of it and the delay starts to impede interactive communications.
Jitter is the variability of delay. Buffers can be used to smooth out variations in delay. However, too much buffering adds delay and prevents effective interactive video.
I guess it’s a bit natural to feel a sense of pride when you are a part of the team that has innovated the vast majority of LAN Access switch features in the market. I joined this group about 2 years ago and have been in awe ever since. If innovation and the sheer brilliance of simplicity excites you then this should be a fun read.
It is probably obvious that every single endpoint connects to the network ONLY through an access switch. Even the wireless ones.. through the access point that is plugged into the access switch. So no endpoint can get into the network without going through an access switch.