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Cisco Tuesday rolled out a number of new capabilities it said will drive adoption of its video collaboration technologies in the enterprise and help partners more quickly take these video solutions to market.
The enhancements, which Cisco unveiled at the Enterprise Connect conference taking place this week in Orlando, Fla., include tools for monitoring and adjusting network resources on-the-fly to better accommodate video-based meetings, along with integration between Cisco's TelePresence and WebEx platforms.
The overall aim, Cisco said, is to make video a more feasible and cost-effective option for enterprise users.
"We're trying to make [video] not exclusive to just one type of worker," said Roberto De La Mora, senior director of Worldwide IP Communication Solutions Marketing at Cisco. "Video, in the enterprise, has been considered many times a niche play."
The first of Cisco's new offerings is a new type of software embedded into Cisco's collaboration infrastructure that will allow networks to dynamically adjust their resources, including audio ports and bandwidth, to better accommodate videoconferencing.
The software, which is being embedded within Cisco TelePresence Server and TelePresence Conductor, helps a network recognize the type of endpoints being used to access a video meeting and then determine the optimal amount of bandwidth and other resources needed to run that meeting.
The software, for example, knows to designate fewer resources to support standard-definition video for a fixed or mobile endpoint, while reserving more resources for more bandwidth-hungry tasks, such as deploying high-definition video to an immersive TelePresence endpoint.
Cisco said this network intelligence software, which is compatible with any standards-compliant video endpoint, will make users' existing video collaboration infrastructure 70 percent more efficient than it already is.
For Cisco partners, it represents an opportunity to help existing customers with the network software upgrade as well as attract a new base of video customers, said Richard McLeod, senior director of Cisco's Worldwide Collaboration Channel Sales.
"We're dramatically lowering the cost of bringing this type of technology to the market for our partners," McLeod told CRN.
Cisco Tuesday also unveiled enhancements to its Medianet architecture for network optimization. The new features will arm IT managers and Cisco partners with the ability to monitor video traffic from all endpoints and pinpoint potential bandwidth or quality issues to ensure users' video meetings run as smoothly as possible.
McLeod said partners can integrate these kinds of networking monitoring services into their broader managed services portfolio.
"We are putting additional tools into the partners' hands for their managed services and giving them the ability to bring more value-add to managing the customer's network," McLeod said. "So this could actually be a money-maker, as an extra service for partners."
Andy Dignan, director of Collaboration Aolutions at CDW, Vernon Hills, Ill., said the new video-specific networking management features for Medianet are crucial from a managed services standpoint -- especially since customers tend to abandon video solutions altogether if the quality isn't top-notch.
"If you have a poor video experience, people just aren't going to use it," Dignan said. "And video, from a bandwidth perspective, is obviously more than voice. So being able to monitor the network, and then ... use Medianet to be able to real-time monitor the call quality is critical."