Cisco to video-optimize networks

MXE 3000 designed to simplify media sharing across enterprise nets

Cisco this week is expected to unveil the first in a series of enterprise products designed to intelligently process video traffic in a network.

The Media Experience Engine 3000 (MXE 3000) is a processing platform that sits between an enterprise switch and router and is designed to simplify media sharing across the network by optimizing its delivery in any format for any device. It provides media conversion, real-time post production, editing, formatting, and network distribution for businesses developing targeted visual communications, Cisco says.

The Media Experience Engine 3000

Video is fast becoming the killer application for networks, according to Cisco and others in the industry. IP traffic will increase sixfold globally between 2007 and 2012 — a 46% compound annual growth rate — due largely to business and consumer adoption of video, Cisco says, citing its own internal research.

Half a zettabyte — which equates to 522 billion gigabytes — will cross the global network by 2012, Cisco says.

"Video is at a tipping point," says Henry Dewing, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "It is a potential tsunami of traffic that could drown a lot of LAN and WAN infrastructures."

To help smooth the delivery of video amidst all that traffic, Cisco is rolling out the MXE 3000. The product delivers the ability to transcode a single source of content so that it is playable on any device, such as an IPTV, digital sign, PC or mobile device, Cisco says.

It also delivers real-time post production and processing capabilities such as watermarking, voice and video editing, text and image overlays and noise reduction to create broadcast quality video experiences, the company says. (See other new Products of the Week.)

"The MXE allows you to dynamically adjust resolution and codec, a key tool to enable the optimal utilization of the bandwidth available for this new traffic type," Forrester's Dewing says

He adds that the MXE 3000, with "near wire-speed" performance, should not introduce any bottlenecks into the video-optimized network just by being another processing element in that network.

"IT operations managers are saying, ‘I've got this video stuff crossing my network, clogging things up. How do I stop it?'" Dewing says. "They don't need to find a way to turn it off; they need to find a way to support it effectively. MXE is a tool to help them manage that."

The MXE 3000 is the first in a new line of products and technologies designed to enable enterprise users to build what Cisco calls "medianets" — networks optimized for video with intelligent processing. Cisco's business video strategy is to help enterprises implement video solutions that create visual networking experiences across multiple devices through faster delivery of content and simplified media sharing across the network.

Last month, Cisco unveiled a medianet-enabled product for service providers with the Advanced Video Services Module for the new ASR 9000 edge router. 

Remote management for the MXE is available through Cisco's Remote Operations Services (ROS). ROS provides 24/7 monitoring, incident management, identification and remediation, and service-level management, Cisco says.

MXE 3000 will compete with the adaptive codec capabilities within video bridge products from Tandberg, Polycom, Radvision and other videoconferencing vendors, Dewing says. But MXE may be more advanced in its ability to transform codecs and resolutions, including that for archived content, he says.

But instead of videoconferencing vendors having to respond, the onus is on Cisco's traditional network infrastructure competitors to video-optimize their products, Dewing says.

"What Cisco's basically done is said, 'video's going to be the overwhelming majority of network traffic – it's not what the Internet was originally designed for, it's a new traffic type, it's going to be huge and it's going to be an issue if not dealt with appropriately,'" he says. "But Cisco stands to lose more than most if video can't be carried on the network."

MXE 3000, AVSM and medianets are part of Cisco's new Media Processing emerging technology group. Emerging technologies are new product development initiatives and business model concepts that have the potential to become multibillion-dollar markets for Cisco.

Existing emerging technology groups include Cisco TelePresence, Digital Media Systems and Physical Security, among others. Cisco also this week is expected to unveil a new release of its TelePresence systems that work across satellite networks and offer an "expert-on-demand" service and support option.

The Cisco MXE 3000 is available now. The MXE 3000 has a list price of $65,000.

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