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Cisco Live On-Demand: Powered By Cisco TelePresence

If you have attended Cisco Live, you know that Cisco technology powers many different features of the show.   Digital media signage, IP phones, VXI thin clients, hundreds of wireless APs, and of course the enterprise-grade Cisco network.

At Cisco Live 2011 in Las Vegas, we activated more Cisco technology, this time from the TelePresence family.    Each Cisco Live event has up to 500 breakout sessions for attendees to learn and interact with Cisco experts.  Recording those sessions for on-demand viewing has always been a priority for our team, and using Cisco technology is always a win for our attendees.    During this event, we put our Cisco TelePresence products to the test, bringing together codecs, HD video, automation, and transcoding systems together to create a unique experience for our virtual audience.

For this pilot capture project, we focused on four session rooms.   Each room was outfitted with a Cisco C-Series C40 or C90 codec, connected to the following:  laptop VGA feed, presenter audio feed, and our Cisco network.   Each codec comes with an HD camera, which was placed on a tripod and connected to the C40.   The camera sits unmanned, and can be controlled remotely.   Once the audio levels are set, the system in the room runs unmanned at this point.

In our control room, we ran a Cisco Video Communication server,  which registered the units onto our network, as well as handled call routing.   With over 40 sessions to record over three days, we looked to automate the system where possible, so we turned to the Cisco TelePresence Management Server.  This device allowed us to program in all session metadata as well as start/stop times.   This reduced the possibility of human error, and enabled the crew to focus on other duties.   To facilitate the recording the sessions, we used the Cisco TelePresence Content Server.  This device has two main functionalities- session recording and transcoding.   It can record multiple sessions at once, and can transcode to just about any format.

A few moments before the session began, the TCS connected to the corresponding room, and began recording both the video and the VGA feed.   At the end of the session, the TCS disconnects and begins to transcode the video capture.   Once the video is transformed into an editable format, a technician will edit the file and then place it back into the transcode queue for the final pass. The slides are captured in real time, allowing perfect sync with the presenter discussion.

The output you see here is the final version.

This pilot session capture project demonstrated the versatility of TelePresence to go beyond just video conferencing, to a system that creates, transforms and shares content.    Our team plans to increase the use of this system at future events across Cisco, enabling us to further bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual world.  You can watch these sessions, as well as over 1000 others at www.CiscoLiveVirtual.com.

If you have questions or comments on these Cisco TelePresence systems, please respond in the comments.

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Solving Education Budget Crises with Telepresence

As we’ve talked about before, Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California has state-of-the art facilities. But, it has no students. Financed with $105 million of bond money allocated in 2007, the school now lacks the $3 million it needs from the state to operate for one year. California state budget cuts of $18 billion, one-third of the state’s education funding, keep Hillcrest’s halls and classrooms empty.

In similar dire straits as California, Minnesota’s state government this summer borrowed $2.2 billion from its public schools to end a government shutdown. The state has not set a date by which to pay the schools back.

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Deloitte Ride Across Britain – Creating a Human Network to Help our GB Paralympics Team Get to the 2012 Games

Last month, 60 Cisco employees from across the UK & Ireland took part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, an epic and challenging 9 day cycle ride starting at the most northerly point in the UK (John O’Groats in Scotland) and finishing at the most southerly point in the UK (Lands End in England). The aim of the event was to raise money to help our Great Britain’s Paralympics team get to the Games in 2012.

For me, this event has a great “Inclusion and Diversity” story threaded through it. With 60 Cisco employees taking their bikes out on the road there was a wide cross section of people involved – men and women of different ages, with a range of cycling experience between them from beginner to expert, from different Cisco offices across the UK.

And one of the great aspects of the event was that participants were able to choose how far they wanted to cycle. We had three cyclists who were able to complete the full 9 days covering a total distance of 974 miles, a relay team of 3 completed each day with 2 out of the 3 of them being on the road at all times, 3 riders cycled for 5 days and several riders who conquered Scotland. But the event was also opened up to a wider group of participants who weren’t open to take on such distances and just wanted to cycle 1 leg of 1 day, about 35 miles.

There were also 3 disabled riders who participated in the cycling challenge, including acclaimed Paralympian Danny Crates. One gentleman became the first hand-cyclist to take part in Ride Across Britain and his determination to complete the full 9 days was a real inspiration to the other riders.  

In addition to our 60 road cyclists, there were also 10 virtual teams competing against each other for the most miles cycled, the most money raised and the best team name. As you can see from the photo, a TechnoGym exercise bike was set up in every Cisco UK&I office and together the teams rode 2216 miles, raised £2230 which is equivalent to over £1 per mile!

The 60 riders created a true “Human Network”. There was no hierarchy; everyone was on a level playing field and like a flock of geese, the riders at the front created an “uplift” for the other riders to cycle quicker and easier because they were travelling on the thrust of another. Those “geese” that fell back through tiredness or injury were supported by other “geese” who stayed with them until help came. Using Mapmytracks we were able to connect our road riders with our virtual riders and the various social networking feed, which further connected and enhanced our Human Network.

Feedback from the event was extremely positive. Our riders really enjoyed the employee engagement the event created and felt truly part of the Cisco family. They enjoyed connecting with people they had never met or worked with before and sharing a life-changing experience. Once riders completed their ride they would hug each other and celebrate their amazing achievement.

For me, Inclusion and Diversity is about opening up opportunities to everyone regardless of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion and belief or sexual orientation; it’s about creating a non-hierarchal, diverse, open culture to foster growth and innovation and creating a Human Network. I think the Ride Across is a great best practice of how we can encourage Inclusion and Diversity in our own workforces.

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Top Cisco Partner Headlines, in less than 5 Minutes

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here and we’ve got a fresh batch of news for partners!

In this week’s Partner Update newscast, Andrew finds out that even though an actual cloud can’t stream his music, Cisco’s new Cloud Partner Program offers everything partners need to capitalize on the growth of cloud, which is expected to reach $172 billion by the year 2014.

We also get to hear Andrew’s top video tips, find out why his suit needs to go to the dry cleaners, learn about networking myths, find out how one customer deployed VXI and virtual desktops, and we answer your technical questions.

Watch this week’s Partner Update newscast.

Keep reading for a transcript of what we covered, links to what we shared, and additional information. Read More »

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From Cairo to Nairobi – Eye to Eye at the Touch of a Button

In my last blog, “Africa – Connected Continent – At last”, I described how the arrival of affordable internet bandwidth in Africa is enabling companies to use technology to transform how they do business. Today at Cisco we have realised huge efficiencies in how we conduct our business internally and we have fundamentally changed how we communicate and collaborate with customers and partners, thanks to TelePresence.

TelePresence allow people to meet face to face over the network without the need to travel. Participants enjoy a high definition, high quality, life-size video experience and can share rich media content. We can now bring in subject matter experts from over one thousand Cisco TelePresence rooms across the globe and put them together with the vast majority of our workforce in Africa as if they were sat just across the table from each another; all at the touch of a button. In fact we can connect Cisco’s TelePresence rooms with any customer or partner TelePresence room, provided they have a B2B exchange with Cisco, so the possibilities are huge.

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