2009 will be the year of IP video

* Defining IP video and where it will be used in business

One of our predictions for 2009 was that the B2B demand for video over IP would grow this year. We'd like to expand on the topic and will look to cover IP video more extensively this year. This week, we'll begin with a few definitions, throw in a few data points about the growth of IP video, discuss business video encounters experienced in person, follow up with some viewpoints from Cisco and AT&T, and finally we'll sprinkle in our usual analysis and observations.

First, let’s start with some definitions and ground rules for our discussion. As with VoIP, video over IP can be delivered over a private IP network, the public Internet, or over mix of both private IP and the Internet. For lack of a better acronym, we’ll call all three delivery flavors IP Video (IPV) in this newsletter. But, as is also true with VoIP we will distinguish the network demands and the user experience that follow when using public and private IP networks for delivery.

Like VoIP, IPV is widely used by both businesses and the consumer, so we’ll focus most of our attention on the business applications but not ignore the service provider network implications since carrier networks need to carry both enterprise and consumer video.

IPV also brings some important differences from VoIP - it can be both streamed or delivered real time. While we suppose that voicemail might be understood to be “streamed voice”, a stored and played voicemail message has radically different network demands and uses when compared to streaming video.

The growth of video delivered over the Internet has grown dramatically over the last few years. For example, according to Cisco estimates “Internet video traffic in North America and Europe in October 2008 exceeded the amount of traffic that crossed the entire global Internet in October 2001.” In 2008, commercial video “accounted for less than one quarter of the video streams and less than half of the video minutes consumed on YouTube [including Google Video, yet] commercial video generated an equal amount of video traffic in the U.S.” Cisco also estimates that “the volume of monthly Internet video traffic in 2008 is nearly an exabyte higher than Internet video traffic during any month in 2007. In other words, monthly Internet video traffic in 2008 is 230 million DVDs higher than any month in 2007.”

Video over the private enterprise networks is also growing. For example, Cisco recently disclosed in an analyst briefing that 60% of its internal network traffic is now video, and Cisco’s enterprise customers estimate that on average, the enterprise network demand for video capacity is growing at 50% annually.

Our observations: We recall the days when public and enterprise networks were engineered first for voice and data second, but as data traffic demands grew, the engineering focus by necessity had to change to data first, voice second. We see the same evolution in network engineering focus as video demand grows to surpass data. We also note that while some enterprise IPV will be sent and received entirely across private networks (especially for telepresence), inter-company and business-to-consumer traffic will principally cross the Internet - so service providers will need to accommodate both consumer and enterprise video traffic in a way that does not compromise voice and data network integrity. And with the consumer market for Internet delivered commercial video also beginning to burgeon, the task of managing all the video traffic across the network cores will not be trivial.

Next time, we’ll discuss our personal experiences with business-related IPV and hear from AT&T on enterprise IPTV.

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