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Who Cares About The Network When Collaborating?

You are probably thinking that the title of this blog seems a little bizarre given that I work at one of the largest networking companies in the world.  The truth is I felt compelled to write about the role of the network in today’s collaboration solutions because the importance of the network is not always apparent and well understood.

A good example of how network-enabled collaboration solutions can be used is that of a hospital or healthcare organization.  The hospital is only as good as its network of services, providers and the accompanying medical infrastructure that support the organization —  they all leverage each other in various different ways.  Physicians can take advantage of mind share and resources and have information at hand from different sources to make the right decisions.  This is what enables doctors and nurses to perform their best work and provide top quality care to the people they serve.

Collaboration technologies and solutions make that collaborative work environment a reality and aid in the diagnosis and care of patients — in some cases even being able to remotely provide medical care by a specialist that may be located half way around the world. The importance of the underlying network in this instance is critical to both physicians and patients alike.  How would the network have any effect on the use of interactive video in telemedicine? Well, let’s think of it from the experience point of view. What would the consequences be for a patient if the video stream they were using in a telemedicine consult was choppy or grainy and the doctor couldn’t get just the right view of the patient to make the right diagnosis?  Let’s just say I would not want to be the patient in this scenario.  A sub-par experience would be unacceptable because even minor details can have an enormous impact on a diagnosis or treatment plan. These collaborative exchanges are what ultimately give the patient the best experience and outcome possible for their individual treatment. A strong network foundation is critical to the delivery of the service and experience in this instance.

Collaboration technologies gaining significant traction in the enterprise today include streaming video, web conferencing and other forms of interactive and dynamic communications — known as rich media.  The reason for the uptick in their use is that they offer the most life like, “in-person” collaboration experiences possible today.  That is what people want and what ultimately drives them to be more engaged with one another.  As described above, the network is critical to the delivery of these types of media.   Not just any network architecture will suffice.  A network-based architecture optimized for rich media such as Cisco (medianet) provides the intelligent services needed in order to scale, optimize and enhance the performance of voice, video and data – all critical to the delivery of the collaboration experience.

What does this mean?  Read More »

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