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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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Clouds Are Everywhere, But Which Cloud for Collaboration?

Which cloud is best for Collaboration?  Simple -- the one that fits your needs. With so many cloud options out there offering a variety of different services, it’s easy to get confused. When making a decision, consider what is essential to collaboration in your business. How do users want to experience the services? What are their needs?  Let’s break it down using me as a use case:

  • Conversations & Conferencing -- I am heavily reliant on voice and video. I need it on all my devices, with no compromises on availability, security or quality.  About 40% of my day is spent in web or video conferences, with one or many people  (I guess this is why WebEx is the second largest business SaaS service!).  For me, I must have a reliable service that performs regardless of how it is deployed.  If my company has chosen the cloud for strategic or financial reasons then that is kind of irrelevant to me – I just want it to work…  and work well.
  • Email, IM and Content -- IM enables me to get information when I need it.  If not, I typically get it from a document sharing space.  Happily, I am spending less time in email these days.  So for these types of collaboration tools I am more interested in what the cloud has to offer.  Decisions made by IT have a material impact on me and my working environment.  Here at Cisco I jump at the chance to be on a trial or pilot of a new technology.  Not only do I get to play with all the new toys, I get ahead of the pack and get access to new productivity tools that make me more effective…  they help me.
  • Customer Services -- I like to choose how and when I interact with people.  I also like to help myself first, and then call out for help as required.  So I like to do business with organizations that allow me to do this.  If they don’t, I generally try to avoid doing business with them.

For most organizations, Read More »

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How Video Makes a Difference in the Way I Work

February 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm PST

Last fall, I was standing in a hotel lobby in Boca Raton, Florida, where I was attending our annual Collaboration Summit. I noticed an energetic woman walking directly toward me. “It’s so great to see you!” she said when she reached me.

I quickly attempted to access the facial-recognition software in my own brain to identify her.
Click, click, click…
I’m terrible with faces.
Click, click, click…
I think I recognize people I don’t know, and I don’t recognize people I’ve met.
Click, click, click…

She saved me further embarrassment and introduced herself. We’d recently worked on a big presentation together. Over instant messaging and e-mail. And on the phone. We’d never met in person, but she recognized me immediately. Why? Because I always use video in online meetings and conference calls.

Later that evening, I went to a reception with a group of customers. In the weeks prior, I’d had WebEx meetings with many of them to review agendas and answer questions. Several people approached me saying they’d recognized me from the call. One said she wasn’t sure she was at the right reception until she saw me there.

I don’t use video because I’m enamored with my own visage, but because I find it useful. And easy to do. At first it was a bit awkward – did I just scratch my nose? – but it quickly became routine. Sometimes I’m the only person on a call using video. Other people will often start their video after noticing that I’m using mine.

A Forrester study of how knowledge workers collaborate showed that 71% work from a personal desk within their organization four to five days per week. And even for collaborative tasks, employees tend to work from their desks to a much greater extent than at any other location, such as a conference room. Case in point: they make 88% of phone calls from a personal desk at work. Read More »

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A Love Letter to Video

Our feelings about video are undeniable year-round, but what better day to make a profession of love than Valentine’s day! Take a look at this “anonymously” written letter I found taped to my personal video unit this morning…

Dear Video,

This Valentine’s Day, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the exciting relationship we’ve shared over the years and make a toast to our future. Together, we bridge the gaps created by distance, time—even language barriers. Whether we’re in the boardroom or on the go, together we make the connections happen to nourish business and personal relationships.  Whether I’m with you in an immersive collaboration room, or using you on the device in my pocket, I know that you are always there for me -- helping me connect with my customers, partners, and colleagues, making my life so much easier.

valentine's day blog image 2_14_14Over the years, we’ve worked together to spread the love. We’ve brought Santa Claus to hospitalized children. We’ve brought U.S. troops home for the holidays. We’ve caught wedding fever and helped brides get the feedback needed to say “Yes!” to the dress by connecting with faraway family and friends. We’ve given kids in Ghana the opportunity to see snow in Hershey, Pennsylvania—and connect with other students half a planet away.

Video, you’ve made collaboration better. For more than 2.6 billion minutes monthly, video enriches the WebEx meeting experience on desktops as well as the more than 5.5 million tablets, smartphones and laptops that have downloaded the WebEx app. Meetings are now fully interactive experiences that offer real-time feedback and visual context to the more than 11 million registered WebEx hosts who meet with the more than 46 million coworkers, customers and clients on WebEx each month via the cloud. Read More »

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Summary: Crossing the bridge – Five cloud services you should pay attention to

A number of key applications consumed by businesses through premise-based deployments are now available from the cloud. Irrespective of where you are in the evolution to the cloud, here are five services that are worth your attention.

Read my full article for a closer look!

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