Cisco's Ready For The Video Revolution

IP video

Dubbed "medianet," the new suite of technologies was built for advanced communications, collaboration and entertainment through video and rich media-optimized service provider, business and home networks.

"The use of rich media technologies will play a very important role going forward in terms of how we work, live and play," said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Technologies group, in a presentation Tuesday.

"The predominant traffic type of the future will be rich media," De Beer added.

According to Cisco, the recent boom in video is eclipsing standard data communications while also putting a massive strain on public and private networks. Currently, rich media applications like voice and video represent roughly 50 percent of IP traffic, De Beer said.

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And as the global economy continues to fluctuate, more companies will turn to video-based communications to cut travel and boost collaboration between distributed workforces.

De Beer predicted that in the near future, video and rich media will represent 90 percent of consumer network traffic. Cisco's new medianet technologies and devices, he added, will help in designing new networks to sustain that boost while also making the network more immersive by wrapping together video, rich media, voice and data onto a single network. De Beer said medianets can fuel new collaboration and virtualization methods.

Cisco pointed to the recent findings of its Virtual Networking Index Forecast for 2007 to 2012, a study that offers insight into how networks will be used over that five-year period. Some of the video-specific findings include: Professional and traditional broadcast video content will be 80 percent of all Internet video viewed on PCs and laptops by 2012; traffic associated with user-generated video will triple from 2008 to 2012; more than 4 billion video streams per month will be delivered through Internet-enabled set-top boxes by 2012; and global video-on-demand traffic more than doubled from 2007 to 2008.

"Video is a transformational force in the world today," said Tony Bates, senior vice president and general manger of Cisco's Service Provider business group, in a statement. "We are seeing consumers and enterprises embracing the power of video to foster better communications, entertainment and information gathering. Cisco foresees a new generation of Internet-based video and multimedia experiences running on medianets that will create new opportunities for service providers content providers, and businesses—and entirely new experiences for consumers."

As part of its medianet initiative, Cisco this week unveiled a media processing platform for businesses that enables live and on-demand media sharing across PCs, mobile devices and other digital screens by formatting video and rich media for viewing on any device. The Cisco Media Experience Engine 3000 provides media conversion, automatic realtime post production, editing, formatting and network distribution in one solution, letting users create high-definition video once and share it anywhere. The engine, De Beer said, also delivers automatic language translation to ensure there are no language barriers in a realtime meeting. For example, if a meeting is held between U.S. and Japanese offices, English will be translated in realtime into Japanese for participants.

Cisco is also touting the nonstop video capabilities of the Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 9000, a service provider edge router released in November. The ASR 9000 incorporates the Cisco Advanced Video Services Module, which enables terabytes of streaming video capacity at the aggregation edge while also offering content caching, ad insertion, fast channel change and error correction, eliminating the need for stand-alone content-delivery network elements.

In addition, Cisco and AT&T have made available a multipoint, intercompany TelePresence solution for companies using the AT&T Business Exchange business-to-business service, while Cisco has also introduced Cisco TelePresence over Satellite to enable TelePresence connections in areas where high-bandwidth wired connections are not available. De Beer added that in coming months Cisco plans to add a home TelePresence solution to enable videoconferencing over home networks.

While Cisco's medianet strategy is not yet a channel-ready technology suite, De Beer said partners eventually will be able to take rich media solutions to customers and help them both embrace the growing use of video on the network through emerging technologies and trim costs. The medianet solutions, De Beer said, will be available within the next 12 months.

De Beer said typical networking solution providers as well as a new set of partners focusing on emerging technologies will be able to offer medianet capabilities to their customers.

"It will benefit our current partner community, and it will also present new opportunities for partners to begin working with us," he said.