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Turn Meeting Rooms into Collaboration Rooms

These days it’s pretty rare that my meetings include only the people in the room. I work in a global company and my co-workers are spread out across the world. We work successfully together any time and from wherever we are through video collaboration. Video isn’t just a nice bonus: 87% of remote users feel more connected to their team and process when using videoconferencing, according to a recent GigaOm report.

You have conference rooms. Adding video should be easy. We agree. And that’s a big part of the focus for our latest endpoint products, announced last month.

The Cisco MX Series endpoints turn meeting rooms into collaboration rooms. Our design philosophy is what we consider “Scandinavian simplicity meets Californian approachability.”

All these collaboration room systems were built on the same philosophy:

  • Simplicity
  • Appealing design
  • Easy installation
  • Intuitive, consistent user interface
  • Improved quality, performance
  • New intelligent video collaboration experiences

This expansion in the MX Series means you can bring Read More »

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What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting Have in Common? Part 2

April 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm PST

What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting have in Common?

If you read my previous blog then you’ll already know that the answer is Medianet. In Part 1 of this 2 Part blog series I discussed the new reverse Metadata capability, provided by a Cisco network, that allows an Enterprise to enable granular QoS marking for all the different media streams that make up a WebEx meeting. In this 2nd instalment, 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.

The other recent innovation for Medianet is Prime Collaboration’s ability to now invoke a Mediatrace for a number of IP Phones models that don’t support the MSI (Media Services Interface). As these devices cannot originate Metadata, it has been previously impossible start a Mediatrace through end point selection for telephones in Prime Collaboration. It is now possible, reactively and proactively, to troubleshoot voice quality issues on 79XX, 89XX and 99XX devices, using the same combination of Medianet and Prime Collaboration tools that have previously only been applicable to personal and room based video systems. Take a look at one of my previous blogs, “Medianet in Action”, for some additional background material on video troubleshooting. The demonstration below shows how to start a Mediatrace for a pair of phones.

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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

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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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