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Why We Will Forever and Fondly Remember The 2014 NAB Show

By now, those of us who attended this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention are back home (or onto the next trip!) The last of the crates are packed out, we got the job done, and we’re ready to move on to NCTA or the Cable Show, then ANGA.

But before we file 2014 NAB along with other trade show memory, I wanted to take a moment to call out a few things high points. This NAB represents a milestone, even a leap forward in the broadcast industry’s slow-but-steady transition to all-IP technologies.

The question is not if, or how gradually, but when and how soon!

Cisco is a company that hails from the Internet. We make equipment and software that is seeping into other industries. This takes time. We know that, which is why we began developing tools and technologies for video broadcasters and service providers over two decades ago. (In Internet time, that’s a lot of cycles…!)

But this time, Read More »

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What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting Have in Common? Part 2

April 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm PST

What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting have in Common?

If you read my previous blog then you’ll already know that the answer is Medianet. In Part 1 of this 2 Part blog series I discussed the new reverse Metadata capability, provided by a Cisco network, that allows an Enterprise to enable granular QoS marking for all the different media streams that make up a WebEx meeting. In this 2nd instalment, we’re going to take a look at how we can extend Medianet’s Mediatrace capability to Cisco’s 79XX, 89XX and 99XX IP Phone portfolio.

The other recent innovation for Medianet is Prime Collaboration’s ability to now invoke a Mediatrace for a number of IP Phones models that don’t support the MSI (Media Services Interface). As these devices cannot originate Metadata, it has been previously impossible start a Mediatrace through end point selection for telephones in Prime Collaboration. It is now possible, reactively and proactively, to troubleshoot voice quality issues on 79XX, 89XX and 99XX devices, using the same combination of Medianet and Prime Collaboration tools that have previously only been applicable to personal and room based video systems. Take a look at one of my previous blogs, “Medianet in Action”, for some additional background material on video troubleshooting. The demonstration below shows how to start a Mediatrace for a pair of phones.

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How are You Sprucing Up Your Digital Strategy for Spring?

It’s springtime…typically the time of year when you need to purge your house of all the clutter that’s accumulated during the winter. At the same time, spring always reminds me to do some extra sprucing up around the Cisco digital house — and start checking it from top to bottom with renewed vigor.

So I took stock recently and was pleased to see all the heavy-duty spring cleaning improvements we’ve made of late. Here’s a sampling, plus some tips on how to approach your digital spring cleaning regime:

Leverage data and insights.

We took a recent look at the traffic patterns on our Cisco.com menus. The majority of visitors to the “Products and Services” menu were gravitating to a subset of items. So we took the opportunity to do some clean-up and make that menu more readable by eliminating items with low traffic.

For more details on this change, see our blog: “A Simple Update to Our Cisco.com Menus”. Read More »

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What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting Have in Common? Part 1

April 15, 2014 at 11:37 am PST

What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting have in Common?

The answer is Medianet, which in conjunction with a Cisco network can provide an innovative solution for two very different real life problems. In Part 1 of this 2 Part blog we’re going to discuss how customers can use Medianet Metadata to provide a robust QoS mechanism for the WebEx cloud service within their Enterprise Networks. Keep an eye out for Part 2  where we’re going to take a look at how we can extend Medianet’s Mediatrace capability to Cisco’s 79XX, 89XX and 99XX IP Phone portfolio. I’ll also point out the benefits for each of these completely different Medianet use cases.

WebEx is a SaaS Conferencing service providing web based data, audio and video conferencing for millions of users. As it’s a cloud service, it’s inherently secure and in a lot of use cases it will tunnel all its media streams within HTTPS. That’s great for secure transport, but it’s resultantly challenging to map the constituent parts of the WebEx application into a granular Enterprise QoS policy. Why would we want to do that anyway? Isn’t it good enough to mark all the WebEx traffic the same?  As the saying goes, there is a method to our madness.The tunnelled WebEx traffic contains control packets, data-sharing traffic and possibly VoIP, which are relatively low bandwidth media streams. On the flip side any tunnelled video traffic will likely be bandwidth hungry by nature. The challenge we want to circumvent is how to ensure the WebEx video traffic does not “swamp” the other types of meeting traffic. Ultimately, we want to allow end users to enable the video service they have paid for, without the risk of video having a negative impact on the overall quality of the online conference. We do everything with the end user in mind to make sure you have the best possible experience.

For those of you that don’t know, a WebEx client can generate Medianet Metadata. In simple terms, Metadata is a way for a Cisco application to announce itself to a Cisco network. In the case of WebEx, different Metadata packets are transmitted onto the network, uniquely identifying all the component media streams (including video) that comprise a WebEx conference. This allows a Cisco network to useWebEx Metadata to differentiate between any WebEx traffic types, even when securely tunnelled over a HTTPS connection. The figure below provides an illustration of the different Metadata packets that will be generated for different types of WebEx traffic.

Figure 1 – Identifying Different Flows using Metadata

Figure 1 – Identifying Different Flows using Metadata

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How to Access Real-time Data with High Confidence

April 12, 2014 at 5:44 am PST

Doctors at Carilion Clinic, a hospital in southwest Virginia, are getting a productivity boost with their medical applications. They can complete their cardiology study a lot faster than before because they can review real-time diagnostic imaging files much faster and more reliably.

You see, real-time data is getting a lot of attention in the industry lately. Using analytics and real-time data effectively, people can discover hidden patterns and new clues for better and more timely decisions. This is very exciting. But first thing first. People often have to answer this challenging question: is the captured data, which is often complex and huge in size, dependable enough to begin with?

As an example, imagine that you were having a critical video conversation with a business partner. You were going to make a major decision based on the outcome of this conversation. Would you be confident enough with your decision if the voice and the image stream were messed up as seen below on the left? And would your confidence level be hugely boosted when the voice was clear and the image was sharp as seen on the right?

Carilion case study

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