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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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LISPmob, a new open source project for network mobility

What if your mobile device allowed you the freedom to seamlessly roam across any network in the world, regardless of location or operator and with all the attributes you would expect, security or privacy…  With LISPmob, we may have gotten a giant step closer as we open sourced a network stack for network mobility on Linux platforms, an implementation of basic LISP mobile node functionalities.

This is the Locator Identifier Separation Protocol, which supports the separation of the IPv4 and IPv6 address space following a network-based map-and-encapsulate scheme based on an IETF open standard.

We hope this will be a project and a community many will find not just interesting and vibrant, but necessary and fun to engage, collaborate and contribute.

How will this help your plans to deal with all these amazing possibilities of mobile access to an ever-growing Internet?

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Back to the future: the Open Networking Foundation

Along with several key industry players we announced the formation of and participation in ONF, the Open Networking Foundation with the purpose of promoting a new approach to networking, called software defined networking, open standards based of course, and implicitly open source since all compute loads (or clouds) need and want both, as we are continuously reminded.

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The Yang of Open Standards, the Yin of Open Source

Every time I think about the relationship between Open Standards and Open Source I am reminded of a fascinating talk by Paul Saltman, a biochemist from Caltech, invited to speak to a Chinese forum years ago, about national food policy for China, later published in Caltech’s Engineering & Science, titled The Yang of Nutrition…The Yin of Food.

I am not a nutritionist, or biochemist, or expert on food -- though in more than one occasion I’ve been known to venture in the art - but I do know a little about open standards and open source - let’s just say enough to be sentient of the wholeness and synergy in which these opposites attract and coexist, perhaps not unlike The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

By the very nature of our industry, open standards are not just important, they are indispensable, the foundation upon which every internetworking protocol is based, the pre-requisite of interoperability, so naturally we take open standards seriously, the yang side, as it were.  But what is often overlooked, just as the case with the yin of food in Saltman’s parallel, is the yin of open source, some of which is in fact the implementation, the other side, or yin as it were, of these open standards and more, with things like jabber or tigerstripe just to name a few.  We’d like to tell you more about what we’re doing with these and other open projects, soon to be covered in this blog.

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Welcome to Cisco’s New Open at Cisco Blog!

Welcome to Open at Cisco, a place where we would like to keep you aware of things related to open source, open standards, open technologies and open developments in general.  I’ve been at Cisco for several years now, involved in open source; when I started I did not realize how much Cisco has contributed since its inception.  I think the BGP story and how it all started a while back exemplifies the collaborative spirit and nature of our contributions, granted some of them in open standards and some in other open endeavors, nevertheless, open standards and open source, particularly in our industry, go hand in hand, or as the IETF tenet goes, we do believe in rough consensus and running code.

Some of those examples have been listed on our website and as our pace of collaboration and contribution increases and diversifies, we’d like to share it with you.  As we do, we would like to take the time to point out not just the typical contributions we’ve made to important and established things such as the Linux Kernel, Apache projects, Eclipse, or open standards such  as SCTP, but to newer communities as well, such as the Open Stack collaboration mentioned last week, so be sure to check our website and of course, this blog.  We really encourage you to join the conversation by commenting on this blog.

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