If you were making a movie or television show about the future, what fantastic technology would you feature? How many years do you think it would take for that technology to not only be invented but also come in to common usage?
I participate frequently in Telepresence calls for my job. Video communication was the stuff of science fiction long before being developed to the point that any of us could use it in real life, though. Back in 1966, Star Trek showed starship-to-starship video transmissions alongside molecular transporters, food replicators and faster-than-light space travel. More than 40 years later I still can’t beam on to a starship or travel at warp speed but I can and do have real-time video conversations with people around the planet.
Fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say.
As we use video more and more in our everyday activities, how is Cisco accommodating increasing traffic on its own network infrastructure?
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 performancemonitor 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 Klingonsoon!
If you haven’t looked at opportunities in Africa in the last couple of years, it’s time to take another look. A massive amount of new internet connectivity is creating new possibilities for the continent, changing the face of Africa forever. The economic and social development opportunities created by high speed, stable and affordable internet access were something that the people of Africa could only dream of until relatively recently – now that dream is fast becoming a reality. Read More »
The proliferation of video is evident. Most marketing or PR conferences you go to will have a session on video or will mention video at some point. Or maybe the conference is being recorded or streamed live to hundreds of virtual attendees. But you don’t have to go to a conference to be exposed to the world of video – it’s never been easier to snap some footage on our mobile phones or with our camcorders.
If I had a dollar for every time I hear the word “video”, I’d probably be writing this blog post on the deck of my beach house somewhere in the Caribbean while sipping on a delightful coconut concoction (non alcoholic). And while I let my imagination run wild and feel the warm sand gently tickling my feet, I want to leave you with this infographic on how video continues to change our lives and the way we communicate. Read More »
The classic traceroute tool has become an essential tool for network engineers. Traceroute is able to discover layer-3 nodes (routers) along the path towards a destination. This information provides operators with visibility about the path towards a destination.
However, there are limitations to traceroute such as issues with traceroute following the right path (as it’s IP source address might be different), no layer-2 (switches and bridges) discovery and really only a single piece of information is returned (IP address of the router).
With mediatrace, which shares the IP header of the flow you would like to trace, you can have much better path congruency—and confidence in the discovery. The mediatrace will also not only discover the routers (as with traceroute), but also switches that are only doing layer 2 forwarding.
Mediatrace does not need to be enabled on every hop. If it is not enabled on node, the mediatrace packet will simply be forwarded through that part of the network. This is exactly what would happen in the case of your traditional MPLS-VPN network.
Figure 1. Mediatrace tracing a flow while the operator chillaxes
Now for the best part! Mediatrace can dynamically engage the performance monitor feature we talked about a few weeks ago. This allows a dynamic surgical monitoring policy to be applied for the flow we are tracing that results in hop by hop performance measurements such as loss and jitter. As is the case with all mediatrace runs, the information is brought back into a single report where it can be quickly analyzed.
Figure 2. Mediatrace integration with performance monitor
Despite the name, mediatrace is not only for voice/video flows. It is able to trace any IP flow, and is even able to engage performance monitor to gather hop by hop TCP stats.
Mediatrace is a new tool that cisco released in IOS 15.1(3)T for the ISR platforms as part of the medianet program. Over the course of 2011, this feature will proliferate across cisco’s enterprise line of routers and switches.