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“One Size Fits All” is for Hats – Not Video

Once upon a time, not so long ago, high-end videoconferencing was a luxury item available mostly to the C-suite. It required special equipment. It was expensive. It wasn’t all that intuitive to use.  That was then.

Today, video is part of day-to-day communications – not just for high-powered business interactions, but also for personal connections. In a world of distributed workforces where colleagues are separated by miles and organizations hire where the talent is located, video has become the standard form of collaboration and communication as a way to keep the pace of innovation and efficiency needed to stay competitive. Unlike before, the equipment now ranges from specialized rooms with high-end, high-def equipment to tablets and smartphones that provide the needed level of quality and fidelity required to be useful to the users. How are we getting from pricey and exclusive to completely pervasive? Technology catches up to what we want it to do. It’s the Moore’s Law theory applied to all technology that is valuable in business – performance increases while the economics and footprint decreases.

When Cisco dove into the waters of video collaboration, the demand was from the boardrooms of the business world. Business was becoming more global, yet organizations were trying to reduce travel costs –a communications conundrum. How could we improve the videoconferencing experience? Read More »

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A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Competition is the sign of a healthy market; and the recent increased cadence of venture investment focusing on startups in the video market underscores what Cisco knows well: video plays a key role in business today, and will play an even bigger role tomorrow.  As the old idiom goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.  As video becomes more pervasive in the enterprise, the opportunity for an industry to rally around the movement might create more competition. But in the end, it is about driving more innovation and better economics so that we all win – customers, partners and vendors.

The opportunity to change and influence the way that people collaborate, engage with one another, and communicate is exactly why I decided to join Cisco and lead the Collaboration marketing team.  One of the things that has struck me recently, however, is that the perception in the market is that Cisco is only delivering solutions geared at the absolute high end of the market.  The fact is that Cisco was a high-end pioneer in the video market with innovations around immersive telepresence; absolutely true.  No one will refute that. The little known fact is that Read More »

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Extending Video to the Web through Open Source H.264

Cisco has been a champion of video communications for a very long time. We are committed to seeing video communications from board room to cubicle, and from CEO to intern. To achieve this vision, we’ve been investing in video solutions from top-end immersive telepresence to video capable soft clients like Jabber. Unfortunately, the one place we haven’t been able to fully go is the web. Video communications is not possible natively in the browser – yet. Work has been progressing on addressing this through an extension to HTML5 called WebRTC. However, this activity has hit a speed bump due to disagreements on choosing a video codec for the browser. Cisco and many others support H.264, which is the foundation of our products and those of most of our competitors.

Today, Cisco has taken a bold step to bringing video to the web. We plan to open-source our H.264 codec, and to provide it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Cisco will not pass on our MPEG LA licensing costs for this module, and based on the current licensing environment, this will effectively make H.264 free for use in WebRTC. Furthermore, Mozilla has announced it will enable Firefox to utilize this module, Read More »

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Day 2 of Educause 2013: Videoconferencing, Engagement and the Student Experience

October 18, 2013 at 9:06 am PST

Day 2 of Educause 2013 has been both information-filled and somewhat fascinating. During the general session this morning, author and renowned game designer, Jane McGonigal, shared some intriguing facts about the power of gaming in higher education. A few facts she shared that I found especially interesting included -- 71% of employees are not engaged (at a cost of 300 billion dollars per year), and that the longer you stay in school, the less engaged you become.

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Innovation is Standard at Idaho Education Network

July 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm PST

For the last four or five years, I’ve watched as the Idaho Education Network (IEN) has implemented and reaped the benefits from their distance education program and use of video conferencing, or telepresence. To this day, they continue to improve on success, and during a session at ISTE 2013 last week, Brady Kraft and his team once again illustrated how they consistently stay on top of their game.

Brady Kraft, IEN, presents at ISTE 2013

Brady Kraft, IEN’s Technical Director, presents at ISTE 2013

IEN is a statewide network that connects every school in the state, including higher education institutions, Internet2, private and public training providers, and first responder training organizations.

One of their mandated goals is to provide equal access to a quality education for all citizens and they’re utilizing technology to achieve that goal. As the 7th  most rural state in the nation, half of the counties in Idaho have less than 10 people per square mile, and 75% of Idaho’s schools have < 600 students. These schools havenot been able to offer a full curriculumdue to many factors, including availability of qualified teachers and budgetary restraints. Read More »

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