In the coming weeks, Cisco will begin shipping the latest releases for the Cisco TelePresence endpoints, which has important implications for those customers looking to roll out a medianet-enabled infrastructure. With the new release, the Media Services Interface (MSI) will ship by default, enabling both the Media Monitoring and Media Awareness solutions for these endpoints. For network administrators, utilizing Media Monitoring in networks managed by Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager and other certified 3rd party management tools, it will now be possible to proactively monitor the network contribution to the end-user’s quality of experience. Being able to monitor key performance metrics (such as packet loss, jitter and delay) will enable network administrators to quickly identify if network service is adversely impacting experience and—in conjunction with Mediatrace—provide them with the ability to dynamically gather the end-to-end diagnostics needed for rapid problem resolution. Quite often, one of the biggest operational challenges with rich media conferencing is detecting and troubleshooting intermittent network quality issues. Often the end user has to complain to the IT department, the video administrator then tries to locate the problem, and by the time they engage the network administrator, the problem has disappeared. This leads to the two operations groups wasting hours trying to be at the right place at the right time to pick up their issues. With Performance Monitor now on both the network and on the endpoints, the operations team can proactively identify the issues and dynamically gather the necessary diagnostics as the problem occurs, rather than attempting to manually gather them after the problem has disappeared. With support in these high value applications, administrators can expect to reduce operational costs and maintain high levels of customer service. Read More »
In a previous blog, I discussed the value of media awareness with desktop video applications like Jabber for Windows. More recently, we have extended support to the WebEx meeting center client using the same media services interface (MSI) development kit as used with the Cisco Jabber client. Just as media awareness enables the network to differentiate between the various unified communications flows—voice, video and IM/Presence—with the WebEx meeting client we have added metadata tags to represent the data sharing flows that are used as part of WebEx web collaboration.
In the first part of this blog, I discussed some of the challenges faced by network administrators and how the Cisco Jabber team has integrated their client with the Cisco Media Services Interface (MSI) to enable Cisco to provide an end to end solution to these problems. In this part of the blog, I discuss the impact and benefits of the Cisco Jabber and WebEx integrations into the Medianet architecture (especially for network devices that support Media Awareness), features such as MS Proxy, and the overall benefits to desktop clients.
So what does this mean for network devices that do support media awareness? The first impact is around performance management. Network devices are able to add this information to Netflow/IPFix records. Increasingly, network administrators are using Netflow/IPFix as the primary source of data to enable performance management. Netflow provides records of every flow that passes through the device and records the amount of packets sent, bandwidth consumed etc. Recently the ability to monitor the performance of these flows has been added to Netflow so now an administrator is able to match flows to performance data to determine whether the network is able to deliver the service these applications need. By adding metadata to these records the administrator can now distinguish between the various applications and media types, opening up the prospect for detailed reporting on performance and capacity down to a level of granularity that has never been possible in the past.
Cisco recently announced the availability of the Cisco Jabber for Windows client which now supports the Cisco Media Services Interface (MSI). This is Cisco Jabber’s first step towards integration into the medianet architecture and along with similar support within the WebEx meeting client will have a profound effect on how customers can manage Quality of Service (QoS) for desktop video enabled applications.
Today, one of the most common issues which prevent a wide scale deployment of desktop video clients is the lack of visibility and control that the network administrators have over these deployments. Unlike video conferencing or telepresence units that are invariably in the same place, desktop clients by their very nature move around and can pop up just about anywhere: Inside and outside of the enterprise, connected via VPN or wireless and, of course, they are mobile enough to appear in different offices unannounced. Given that network administrators are charged with delivering acceptable application performance across their network infrastructure, the uncontrolled deployment of desktop video can be a real nightmare. Is the network ready to support the potentially large numbers of concurrent desktop video sessions? What happens if too many sessions are concentrated in a site with limited or oversubscribed bandwidth? How do I protect my existing revenue generating applications from the impact of bandwidth hungry video applications? It is no wonder that it is the network administrator who typically ends up being the roadblock to deployment, given the lack of tools by which to do capacity planning, performance monitoring/management, and, of course, traffic engineering to protect the experience.