Continuing our Innovations with Cisco IP Fabric for Media

Contributors: Sunil Gudurvalmiki

Wow! What a week it was at NAB 2019. I had the privilege of meeting with several customers and partners (we had over 2000 unique visits to Cisco booth alone, yes 2000!)  and showcased the innovation Cisco continues to make for the Media and Entertainment Industry to enable their transition from SDI to IP with Cisco IP Fabric for Media.

Right from when we started our journey in 2016, we realized that there are unique challenges the Media industry brings to us due to the nature of the traffic carried on the fabric (uncompressed, UDP flows and often LIVE) and unlike others, who provided a network switch and said – yep, we carry multicast, we wanted to go beyond just transporting video flows, and provide a complete solution. In 2017 we presented NBM (non-blocking multicast) to the industry where we added reliability, flexibility and security to our fabric and DCNM Media controller provided endpoint visibility and end to end flow path visibility, proving to the industry that IP can be made reliable and is no longer a black box. But we didn’t stop there. We knew we can do much better for our customers, and with that, we launched 3 new features and a brand-new addition to our Nexus 9000 family.

Real Time Video Flow Analysis

A problem that haunts any operator is bad video on air. When this happens, it often takes several hours just to isolate where the fault is happening, resulting in loss of revenue.

Leveraging the hardware telemetry capabilities of Cisco’s Cloud Scale ASIC, we now have the ability to look at every single packet of every single RTP flow and detect any loss in a stream. When a loss is detected, Nexus 9000 switch creates an alert notifying a loss has occurred and streams this event notification to DCNM (or any 3rd party controller). DCNM not only provides the flow path visibility but overlays the path visibility and the point in the network where the loss is seen, providing a simplistic view of where in the network along the flow path, the problem was seen. What used to take several hours of troubleshooting, impacting business SLAs, is now done instantly in real time. With both uncompressed 2110 and compressed flows being RTP flows, this feature not only benefits production networks, but can also help in other areas such as playout, contribution and distribution.

Cisco is uniquely positioned where we have the ability to build our own intelligent ASICs and complement it with our innovative software resulting in such amazing inventions that benefit the industry.

This innovation won us the “Best of Show” award at NAB.

More on this:

PTP Boundary Clock Monitoring

With the move to IP, time synchronization is done using PTP. The network switches are in PTP boundary clock mode, providing timing to audio and video endpoints.  Using software streaming telemetry, the PTP state from each boundary clock switch is streamed to DCNM.  Operator can subscribe to notifications that is triggered when the corrections exceeds a configurable threshold value.

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Flexible Multicast NAT

Often when video is distributed to external entities, there is a need to translate the IP address, both source and group, for security reasons or at times because of overlapping addressing used. In another scenario, where there are certain destination systems that only subscribe to a single multicast group/L4 port and there is a requirement to route different sources to that destination at different time of the day, NAT is utilized. The industry has been using custom appliances to create such translations, which are often expensive or lack the port density and scale a network switch can offer.

On Nexus 9000 we have now included the ability to translate the source, destination IP and L4 port of any multicast stream traversing the network.  What is unique with our offering is that we can do this translation on a per egress interface. What that means is that a single flow, can be translated several different ways on each egress interface. This provides the much-needed flexibility at scale!

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400G

Yes, not a typo, its 400G. We will introduce a new member to Cisco’s cloud scale family with Nexus 9300-GX platform. With higher video definition, like 8k, there is a need for more bandwith in the network and Cisco is ready to deliver. Get all the hardware telemetry and software features and much more with the Nexus 9000-GX.

Exciting times indeed, to be a part of the industry that is undergoing this massive transformation.  I want to leave you all with a quote from our Vice President of Engineering, Venu Venugopal:

“We will continue to invest and innovate for our customers in the Media and Entertainment Industry and ensure they are extremely successful in their transformative journey from SDI to IP based solutions”.

See you all next at IBC 2019 with more exciting innovations!



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2 Comments

  1. I really excited to see this progress. What training offerings are available to the customers?

    • Hi Dwayne,
      These features will be made available in Q3/Q4 CY19. We will have design guides and configuration guides that will explains how to configure them. I will share more details when they become available.