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Cisco on the Move

Nov 18, 2010 1:55 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart


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Cisco is once again on the move in our space. Not surprisingly, the play is coming out of Thomas Wyatt’s Digital Media Systems Business Unit. (This unit is part of the Emerging Technologies business group under Marthin De Beer, who gave the keynote at InfoComm earlier this year.)

Last week I spent some time talking with Wyatt’s director of marketing, Janice Litvinoff, going over the view of what Cisco is calling “pervasive video.”

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Interestingly, much of what is emerging for Cisco harkens to things that our industry has been courting for years. Many innovative product engineers and systems designers have understood the appeal of digital video on an easily accessible network that could publish any content to any screen size or application. They’ve pursued that paradigm, facing the related technical issues of compression (or not), distribution, and file conversion.

Some have also understood that the user experience would be central to success and must factor ease of installation and use, scalability, permissions, and network administration. But the users our market was serving over the past 10 to 15 years were still discovering networking and networked digital video for themselves. And for a long time, video was big and unwieldy. Today, what was on a few people’s wish lists will soon be the fundamental infrastructure and currency of communication.

So leave it to Cisco to put a name, a frame, and an urgency around the opportunity. Litvinoff opens the dialogue with some internally sourced statistics. The year 2013 will see a tenfold increase in video communication over 2008, and 90 percent of network traffic at that point will be video. The bulk of this will be consumer IPTV/CATV/Internet. But Cisco forecasts that business IP WAN and Internet traffic will not only grow but will increase share, as will mobile video.

Litvinoff introduces Cisco’s vision as the next phase of its Medianet Architecture. At the heart of this architecture is the Cisco MXE 5600, the Media Experience Engine we’ve talked about before and which we will talk about again. Cisco is aiming most heavily at consumers who want to share, tag, and search video across platforms. But what calls to consumers will transform businesses. Cisco participates in the Digital Screen Media Association for digital signage, interactive, and kiosks, and a big part of the pervasive video strategy is packaged “solutions” for education, health care, and sports and entertainment venues—all of which Cisco tags as growth verticals.

So the story is as much about business as technology. Whether Cisco has come up with the ultimate technology is a question for another time. But just as Sony put a transformative name on digital filmmaking with the introduction of the 24p format, Cisco is trying give a name to an undeniable, transformative, and compelling trend. I agree with De Beer that the need to share rich media between dissimilar endpoints and media formats is going to be more profound for businesses (your customers) than e-business was.



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