Cisco IPSLA has been a very popular tool for network pre-deployment assessment and network monitoring for over a decade now. It has been widely deployed by Cisco customers across all industry verticals.
In an earlier blog, the Medianet team introduced you to a new type of IPSLA probe called the Video Operation (VO) probe. This probe is also referred to as the Built-In Traffic Simulator (BITS). The main functionality of this probe is to generate traffic that mimics real media flows. The intention is to stress the network and do a pre-deployment assessment of the network.
IPSLA VO is a Cisco IOS® functionality. So basically any router or switch running Cisco IOS® can be potentially used to generate IPSLA VO synthetic traffic streams without needing to buy and deploy dedicated hardware probes.
In the first part of this blog, I discussed some of the challenges faced by network administrators and how the Cisco Jabber team has integrated their client with the Cisco Media Services Interface (MSI) to enable Cisco to provide an end to end solution to these problems. In this part of the blog, I discuss the impact and benefits of the Cisco Jabber and WebEx integrations into the Medianet architecture (especially for network devices that support Media Awareness), features such as MS Proxy, and the overall benefits to desktop clients.
So what does this mean for network devices that do support media awareness? The first impact is around performance management. Network devices are able to add this information to Netflow/IPFix records. Increasingly, network administrators are using Netflow/IPFix as the primary source of data to enable performance management. Netflow provides records of every flow that passes through the device and records the amount of packets sent, bandwidth consumed etc. Recently the ability to monitor the performance of these flows has been added to Netflow so now an administrator is able to match flows to performance data to determine whether the network is able to deliver the service these applications need. By adding metadata to these records the administrator can now distinguish between the various applications and media types, opening up the prospect for detailed reporting on performance and capacity down to a level of granularity that has never been possible in the past.
Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, recently went on a tirade about working from home, criticizing the work ethic and the “general malingering” of a teleworker.
Coming from a company where telework is widely practiced, I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Mayor. The world is on the cusp of the next revolution in how people work and this next phase must create deeper relationships and spur more effective communications and a sense of “connectedness” that we’ve been missing. Telework has not only been proven to make for a more efficient workforce but it also has resulted in happier employees. More than 80 percent of employees claim a better work/life balance since working remotely and 73 percent say they are more willing to put in extra time at work without their commute.
Organizations that provide flexibility are also more likely to attract new talent. Cisco surveyed college students and young professionals working around the world to determine the influence mobile device protocols, remote work opportunities, and Internet policies have on their employment decisions. And it matters — 42 percent of college students and recent graduates said they make career decisions based on companies that provide the best work/life balance. This request for balance came before more money (26 percent) or advancement potential (23 percent).
Cisco recently announced the availability of the Cisco Jabber for Windows client which now supports the Cisco Media Services Interface (MSI). This is Cisco Jabber’s first step towards integration into the medianet architecture and along with similar support within the WebEx meeting client will have a profound effect on how customers can manage Quality of Service (QoS) for desktop video enabled applications.
Today, one of the most common issues which prevent a wide scale deployment of desktop video clients is the lack of visibility and control that the network administrators have over these deployments. Unlike video conferencing or telepresence units that are invariably in the same place, desktop clients by their very nature move around and can pop up just about anywhere: Inside and outside of the enterprise, connected via VPN or wireless and, of course, they are mobile enough to appear in different offices unannounced. Given that network administrators are charged with delivering acceptable application performance across their network infrastructure, the uncontrolled deployment of desktop video can be a real nightmare. Is the network ready to support the potentially large numbers of concurrent desktop video sessions? What happens if too many sessions are concentrated in a site with limited or oversubscribed bandwidth? How do I protect my existing revenue generating applications from the impact of bandwidth hungry video applications? It is no wonder that it is the network administrator who typically ends up being the roadblock to deployment, given the lack of tools by which to do capacity planning, performance monitoring/management, and, of course, traffic engineering to protect the experience.