Cool Stuff about Cisco MediaNet

Engineers rejoice! Finally a way to model and actually test video before the first bit hits the wires

Robb and I were at Interop last week in Vegas taping a couple of episodes for TechWiseTV. (shameless plug: I haven't been to N+I in Vegas for five years. I went to N+I in India a few months back and that was the best show EVER! Yeah, I know its just called "Interop" but saying N+I makes me sound more old school cool. Kinda like; "Yeah me and Vint Cerf were chillin' at N+I twisting some pairs of cat5 up..." Anyway, I was going to write about the changes I have noticed over the years and even poke fun at some vendors. I changed my mind after thinking about the value of being a douche bag verses the value of writing about the most impressive technical stuff I got a chance to play with. In the Navy we called that; "staying in your paygrade". Now, working at Cisco has it's advantages like; great folks, ultra fast Internet connectivity and the chance to play with some really cool technology. The TWO biggest disadvantages at a trade show are; vendors see my badge and they think I am doing competitive recon on them or they think I have the line item authority to issue an acquisition. Both suck. First, as an engineer, I am interested in technology and I do not care who does it; ingenium gratia ingeniums (see Dad, I did find a use for the Latin class...27 years later...). Second; dude, I'm wearing a bowling shirt with "Jimmy Ray" on the back above a row of beer mugs over a tshirt with the number 42 on it. Chances are, I'm just passin' thru lookin' for beer not scouting for companies to report back to Chambers to buy. Out of the stuff, I got to mess around with, I just fell tail over tea kettle with Cisco MediaNet. When TechWiseTV would be taking time to set up shots, waiting for guest or even after the floor closed, I just couldn't keep my hands off of MediaNet. If you haven't heard of it, you soon will. MediaNet is really a framework. OK now, I had the same reaction; "framework" is a goober marketing term for "marketecture". Basically, a new and improved lemon scented with oxygen enriched scrubbing bubbles right? No. MediaNet is a collection of NEW IOS tools to monitor, model and extend the video readiness of your network. MediaNet is all about video. Not just webcam crappy, jerky signal video but high quality HD level video. The Real Deal. Let's take a look at the stuff us engineering types need to be aware of. Performance Monitor This is the reactive part of the solution. With Perf Mon we can see stuff like round trip delay, jitter, loss and even fault isolation. It measures TCP flows, IP Constant Bit Rate and of course Real Time Protocol. All of this data is at the CLI or exportable via NetFlow and/or various MIBs to management consoles. Perf Mon is cool for sure, but the best to me was the concepts for config'ing Perf Mon and Flexible NetFlow are nearly the same. Kinda like a Cisco Prime for us command line commandos. MediaTrace This is also a reactive piece of the MediaNet solution. However, while Perf Mon is more of a device monitoring tool, MediaTrace is a pinpointing/half bracketing tool to track down path problems end to end. When I issued a command, I could discover and track all hops along the media pathway and gather stats per hop. My favorite part is the crontab like ability to schedule MediaTrace to run as a job to continually check path; TWTVRtr(config)# mediatrace schedule 33 life forever start-time 10:00:00 May 20 recurring I wrote an EEM script to extend this ability to email results every morning to the Network Admin. IP SLA VO This is the proactive part of MediaNet that allows me to test the video stream BEFORE any packets hit the copper. IP SLA has proven to be a real "leveler" for engineers in the field for testing round trip times of circuits and just general communication. The VO stands for Video Operation and it generations synthetic traffic to simulate IP video traffic on the wire. We all know that doing upgrades after hours/low traffic hours is a way of life for us IT type folks. With IP SLA VO we can stress the network BEFORE the upgrade to find any leaks and then stress it after to make sure it works as we said it would in the change control meeting... Normally, IP SLA can not pump the traffic we need to generate a good video simulation so IP SLA VO makes specific API calls to give us a ton better timer interrupt control. Of course this does make IP SLA VO platform dependent, so double check to make sure you're all good there. As a fat dude I can tell you that one size most definitely doesn't not fit all. That's how I feel about synthetic traffic as well. Cisco has heard our cries from the field and is going have a sampling tool on the web that will allow you to submit a traffic sample and it be converted to a file to be used by IP SLA VO. How cool is that, traffic modeling with your actual traffic!!! Media Services Interface MSI This is the extension of MediaNet. Just like smartphones changed cell phones from phones to full fledged business and personal resource devices, smartend points are set to do the same thing for the video space. Our network can be rock solid but if the end user experience is poor then we fail. So much is dependent on the application. As an engineer and a code jockey, this is the best part of MediaNet. Now I can test all the way to the actual user experience. All too many times I have been in meetings proving "It's not the network" MSI gives application coders an interface to write to work with the network and have full access to all of the MediaNet tools. WebEx uses MSI now and it is absolutely amazing how well they can track problems in the network right down to the machine level. If WebEx tells you that you've got a problem, you can lay money on the table that you certainly do. MSI is a true API with it's own software development kit and config guides to make your apps media aware. To find out more about MediaNet click on over to: There was a lot of cool stuff at N+I without a doubt. I like MediaNet best because I can see a use for it right now, it changes the way my apps interact with the entire network and it's free which is good since coming back from Vegas leaves me a little short. I didn't lose money gambling but on the excellent food, cigars, beer and that crappy Criss Angel show Robb talked me into! Jimmy Ray Purser Trivia File Transfer Protocol German chocolate cake is named after an American who had the last name German

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