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Why video and the cloud don't mix, according to Cisco

Video will be the next big challenge for the enterprise network, Cisco says

By , Network World
July 14, 2011 03:06 PM ET

Network World - To hear Cisco tell it at its Cisco Live conference, the next-generation network will be nothing but video. But if you are hoping to offload video as a cloud service, think again, says Guido Jouret, Cisco's vice president of enterprise video and CTO of emerging technology.

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"Video and cloud in some cases do go together, but in some case are polar opposites," he says. "Even if you as an enterprise had no concerns about taking your internal sensitive videos and posting them to some cloud video service like YouTube, it would still be a bad idea," he says. And that's because all the people watching those videos will be your employees. Every time they press play on the video, that video will have to stream through your Internet gateway and over your skinny corporate WAN link. "Talk about single point of failure and chokepoint. So, topologically it's a really poor choice of where to put the video. With video, because it's so big and so sensitive, topology matters. That's not the same with hosted email. Email is skinny."

Dare we point out that this point of view assumes that your enterprise is organized in a classic all-employees-are-located-behind-the-firewall-at-headquarters scenario. The more distributed your workers, and your network, the less of a chokepoint a single Internet gateway would be for hosted video.

In any case, the overall concept of where you place the video is an important component to how you prepare your network for it.

"Most network engineers still tend to think of video as size -- that a video call requires 200 times the capacity of a voice call," Jouret says. "But video is an experiential technology. You don't read it, you watch it. Video is like the acid test of the quality of your infrastructure."

Just like VoIP forced network engineers to build out low-latency, low-jitter networks, video will press the network even more. "If the video delivery starts losing more than a few packets, users will know, the call will drop," Jouret says.

Plus, as video works its way into the enterprise, its business uses expand. For instance, retailers have begun to explore video as a way to improve customer service. A system that may have begun as a surveillance system can be examined for trends, such as patterns in shopper traffic. Or it can be outfitted with facial recognition software to help store employees recognize when a store's most frequent customers enter the shop, says IDC storage and cloud analyst Rick Villars. Uses like this require that a lot of historical video is stored and then viewed and reviewed to find patterns.

Regular access of much-viewed video, particularly videos that will be viewed by many people at once, requires storing not just one copy of it, but multiple copies. These would be cached in some form of content distribution network, be it Cisco's new offering or another, as close to the device as is practical, so that the network can deliver the video without pause.

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