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New hardware Solutions, New Investment, What Does it Mean to Industry?

The video collaboration world has reached another interesting inflection point.  The market has shown that there is an experience threshold to deliver effective remote video collaboration – recall the rapid doubling of the video market between 2006 and 2008 when HD video became possible across a range of platforms.  It is also clear that high quality experience delivers both dramatic productivity increases as well as significant business growth opportunities.  So what is holding back the market currently?

The challenge has been to deliver the threshold experience at a price point that is accessible to everyone. The solutions that are being offered up until now have either been too expensive to roll out at scale or have compromised on quality, security, connectivity and interoperability to the point where the experience threshold is not achieved.  The market has shown that “good enough” does not deliver the type of user experiences that businesses need.

We have been talking about quality attributes for some time, and arguably Cisco has been progressively improving this with both software and hardware developments.  However, the latest endpoints announcements from Cisco at Enterprise Connect address perhaps the most fundamental requirement to drive the video collaboration market:

  • Delivering business video for everyone

Video collaboration has delivered many benefits to the organizations that are taking advantage of it today. By embracing this technology these organizations are seeing greater productivity among their employees, partners and vendors as well as reduction in travel costs by using video to be anywhere at any time. 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

Read More »

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Scandinavian Minimalism Combined With Californian Approachability Wins Red Dot Award 2014

In the world of product design, the best intertwine form and function.  Design stalwarts Apple, Sony and BMW get it right; and we’re honored to be listed alongside them as Red Dot Award winners.

red dot

I’m proud to report that all the new Cisco video collaboration endpoints we unveiled during Enterprise Connect received the coveted Red Dot Award 2014 for product design:

This recognition is a rewarding validation for the no-compromise, design led approach we undertook when developing our newest video solutions. And just as important as the awards is the feedback I’ve received from the people who use our technology.

You let us know that you appreciate the attention to detail and unparalleled user experience. And our focus on harmonizing the technology with the human aspect of face-to-face communications. By combining Scandinavian minimalism with Californian approachability, I believe we’ve succeeded in letting the technology recede and emphasizing the connections between people. It’s about allowing people to connect with one another, anywhere, in a powerful way without distraction – from the browser to the boardroom.

Rounded edges, seamless fronts, light aesthetics, arresting audio and video impact Read More »

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Surviving the Conference Call: There is a Better Way

Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger makes some great points in her recent article “Surviving the Conference Call.” She points out many of the downsides of not collaborating in person — people multitasking during calls, bad audio, the inability to build rapport.

I remember those days well. For me, they’re in the past because I use video on nearly every call I make, whether it’s a group conference call or a 1:1 conversation with a co-worker.

Shellenbarger reports that about 65% of all conferencing is still done via audio calls, according to Wainhouse Research. To some, video may seem like the future, but it’s really available and affordable here and now. It’s moving from an executive-only tool to something available to everyone.

At first I was surprised that Wainhouse predicts time spent in audio conferences in the U.S. will continue to grow 9.6% a year through 2017. But in context, it’s pretty slow growth compared to predictions for video conferencing (check out Figure 14).

True, video is a new concept for many of us. Just the idea of being heard and seen is a hurdle for some people. I used to hide from cameras at parties and now I use one throughout the day. The benefits quickly outweighed any awkwardness. I found right away that the ability to have eye contact with people and see their physical reactions during a conversation makes a significant difference in the communication. Read More »

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‘If You Build It, They Will Come’ – NOT!

baseball blog image_Frances_if you build it_2_28_14There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.
- Tommy Lasorda

Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams” hears the voice “If you build it, they will come” which drives him to convert his cornfield to a ball field, attracting legendary players to fulfill his ultimate fantasy baseball game.

When companies build video collaboration spaces, will employees rush to the field, eagerly start using these solutions, find immediate value and fulfill the dreams that justified this investment?  Not necessarily.

In our experience, companies need to drive video adoption by communicating the answers to the two most important questions that drive human behavior --  “Who says so?” and “Why should I?”

Regrettably, sometimes IT leadership takes the “Build It and They Will Come” approach, driving the design and deployment of an extensive video architecture without the right partnership with the lines of business.  Decisions about where to put video solutions -- such as immersive TelePresence, multipurpose rooms and other endpoints – are often based on assumptions about Read More »

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