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Virtualization Meets Video Processing at NAB 2014

If anything is certain about the video business, it’s this: the volume of change is daunting and every change tends to make life more complicated, not less.

This is certainly true at the sharp end of the business -- digital video processing – where  “multiscreen” video, new video formats and new video technologies are together creating a perfect storm of complexity. Once there was SD over MPEG2 delivered to TVs. Now there is SD, various flavors of HD and, soon, 4K; and MPEG2, AVC and now HEVC; plus a wealth of encapsulation schemes and DRMs; And even more screen sizes and resolutions as the number of device to be supported grows ever larger.

The number of permutations of all these options is truly dizzying. Every permutation is a potential video “workflow” to be implemented – and the number of permutations is expanding rapidly, apparently endlessly and it’s exponential. Today Cisco deals with some media companies that have over 80 video workflows for their content. One more video format – for instance 4K – and this potentially doubles to 160. Another compression scheme – HEVC perhaps -- and now we have 320. And so on.

Keeping track of all these “workflows” is one thing, but Read More »

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Cisco @ NAB: We’ve Got Your 4K, HEVC, OTT, IP, SDN, NFV — Right Here!

There’s a reason the superlative term “broadcast quality” is the measuring stick and euphemism for “highest possible video quality” — and the people that make it happen are all here this week for the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention.

If you’re reading this, chances are high that you’re on your way or already here, perhaps for the second or third time this year — and it’s only April. We’re there too, not surprisingly, with a lot to share with our colleagues in broadcasting.

By “a lot to share,” I mean the new Videoscape Virtualized Video Processing solution, for handling the massive array of inputs, outputs, and related workflows; solutions for 4K/UltraHD video; advanced HEVC compression; new advancements enabling greater compression with no loss of video quality for MP2 and AVC; and a clear path for our broadcast television colleagues to swiftly transition to IP video, from production to ad insertion to delivery.

Probably the most exciting demo at Read More »

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Videoscape + Cloud Services = Cisco SaaS Advantage

At CES this year we announced the expansion of Videoscape to the cloud. By launching Videoscape Cloud Software and Videoscape Cloud Services, we are empowering our customers with flexibility and agility to provision and scale infrastructure on demand, service velocity to introduce new functionality more rapidly, and cost optimization from more manageable and predictable cost structures.

For some of you, reading about Cisco + Cloud Software is nothing new; Videoscape is yet another example of how we are taking our industry proven and robust software capabilities and making them available for implementation as cloud software applications. Been there, done that.

Yet we have raised some eyebrows with Cisco + Cloud Services. What experience does Cisco have delivering software as a service (SaaS), and what service provider video/media entertainment provider expertise do we have operating SaaS models?

In today’s blog, I will answer the question of why our customers should feel confident with Cisco as their Cloud Services partner by pointing to Cisco’s established SaaS leadership as well as our domain expertise in the service provider video and media/entertainment space. In a follow up blog, I will address Read More »

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Virtualization Technology for the Real World, Today

A few years ago at Mobile World Congress (well more than a few, perhaps…), I was speaking with the CTO of a top tier Mobile Operator about a newly emerging technology called IMS.  It seemed that every vendor was promising how IMS was going to change the world.  This very wise CTO stated that he needs to see a tangible benefit or value from a new technology to be interested.  “I will only buy a new technology if you can show me how it can (a) do something I cannot do today, or (b) improve the way I am doing something today.  I will not buy technology for the sake of technology.”  This simple axiom is a great lens to look through as one views all new technologies – and that is certainly the case for the current industry discussion around Virtualization – or more accurately from Cisco’s perspective on the topic, Virtualization and Orchestration.

But instead of joining in with the multitudes talking about the wonders of the technology, arguing around technical specs or nomenclature, the lesson from the CTO instead guides me to talk about what it can do for the service provider business.

That’s why our announcement today of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform has a decidedly business bent.  Yes, it is a Read More »

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The Low Rumble of the 4K Resolution Revolution

It hasn’t been all that long since HD-quality video gained widespread acceptance as an industry standard. Yet a new resolution standard is capturing the attention of the broadcast world. It’s known as 4K (or Ultra High Definition – UHD), and it offers viewers four times the picture resolution of standard HD. At CES 2014, one of the hot trends among TV set manufacturers, along with sets that curve and flex, was a 4K display. It’s the new standard for TVs, and while it currently has a price point that keeps it firmly high-end, the story sounds familiar: 4K TV sets will only get cheaper to manufacture, consumer demand will grow, and broadcasters will need to adapt.

So is change inevitable? Actually, no.

For 4K to truly develop into an industry standard, it will require several players in the video value chain to row in the same direction at the same time. This could certainly happen, but by no means is this assured. For instance, 4K TVs need content filmed in 4K. Will this become a new standard? Perhaps, but this would require significant and costly changes for an industry that only recently embraced the HD standard.

Even if Read More »

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