Cisco on Cisco: The Video Avalanche is here… Medianet to the rescue!

Cisco’s business is going through a transformation and the company is relying on Rich Media tools such as Collaboration and Video to cut costs, increase employee productivity and improve operational efficiencies.

As of July 2011, there are a total of about 1250 high end Cisco Telepresence systems and another 6000+ Tandberg based Telepresence and video endpoints. The total number could grow to 25,000 in the next 18-24 months. Also, the use of video with WebEx is growing every day. The company is also leveraging video technologies for live meetings such as the Global Sales meeting that brings together 20,000+ employees virtually for two days. Use of Video on Demand technologies is increasing through video blogs, show and share and other employee and customer engagement applications. Digital Media Systems have become a key part of the employee communication strategy and the Safety and Security team is also upgrading several thousands of new security cameras.

 All of these bring tremendous challenges to IT, especially to the Infrastructure teams. Architecting, Designing and Operating the network for this large scale, global video deployment has made the IT Infrastructure teams think through their plans.

Cisco IT is rolling out the Medianet architecture to address many of these challenges.

The key focus areas for Medianet are:

  • Auto Configuration of video endpoints – As we roll out more video end points, we want to automate the deployment and provisioning of the video end points. A key savings that Cisco IT is focusing is to reduce the time spent due to process dependencies between the various teams involved in video deployment (ex: Safety teams deploying video cameras having to coordinate with the network team for network configuration of the ports)
  • Ongoing support and operations: As the number of video systems grow from several thousands to few tens of thousands, IT wants to make sure we are keeping Total Cost of Ownership under control. This is especially true for the mobile video devices that would be rolled out. Through the use of Media Monitoring, Cisco IT will have greater visibility into the operational capabilities of supporting video. More than ever before, we now have deeper visibility into a video call. Mediatrace would help Cisco IT with troubleshooting of issues that could arise, especially with end points in disparate global locations that are connected through several network hops. One of the engineers quipped that is like living the early ‘90s all over again — having an ICMP trace (which is one of the best known friends for a Network operator) for Video. The Media Services Interface (MSI) enables Medianet in video components of Webex and other applications resulting in true realization of the architectural benefits of Medianet.
  • Network Planning:  Infrastructure Investment — “The Goldilocks system”: not too much, not too little, just the right amount of investment. Cisco IT constantly looks at traffic patterns, business needs and growth in IT capabilities to make the appropriate investment in the bandwidth. Medianet, when deployed in large scale production should enable IT to have better visibility on the end to end network capabilities resulting in better decision making and investment planning. This will also help us with fine tuning our QoS design including Call Admission Control requirements.

IT has started Medianet deployment in those areas that require the functionalities the most – home offices. The Cisco Virtual Office deployment now has over 7,000 CVO routers (ISR G2 891 Series)  deployed with Medianet functionalities. Cisco IT has very little control over the bandwidth availability of these home offices and as video deployments for home users grow it is imperative for IT operations to have the right set of tools management and troubleshooting. Branch offices will be the next to follow while a parallel deployment of Campus sites will progress  based on our Fleet upgrade process (Cisco IT’s Infrastructure lifecycle process for hardware/software refresh) for hardware and software support for Medianet.

We’ll continue to share our Cisco on Cisco journey with Medianet as we move through our video deployment.

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  1. Awfully challenging bless you, I presume your followers would certainly want a whole lot more content along these lines keep up the great effort.

  2. I thought the Tandberg acquisition was very astute at the time.
    Still I am surprised there were not more than 1250 Telepresense installs.
    I would expect that to increase greatly, in the not too distant future.

    • Matt,
      Thanks for the comment..
      Just to clarify — The 1250 count reflects High Definition/Immersive units based on Cisco Telepresence.

      After the acquisition of Tandberg by Cisco, Cisco IT has been deploying various Tandberg based video solutions to solve business challenges, aligned with our IT as a Service strategy. The total number of Tandberg endpoints including those that were originally installed at Tandberg has touched 10,000.

      We expect the overall number (including Immersive and other business video solutions) to grow to 25,000 to 30,000 in the next 18 months.

      This large scale, global deployment is going to bring some serious challenges to IT in the areas of Infrastructure planning, operations and management. Medianet is going to play a major role in solving those challenges.