Cisco aims software improvements at enterprise video communications

Cisco plans deeper integration between its TelePresence and WebEx products, and better network management tools for video conferencing

Anticipating explosive growth in video communications, Cisco is readying product improvements designed to simplify the management of videoconferencing traffic and to streamline its use for employees.

The products, announced Tuesday, include new software for adjusting network resources based on video requirements, and a new cloud-based virtual meeting room service for its video-as-a-service hosting partners.

"We're giving tools to IT managers to better deploy, manage and support video traffic on their networks and help eliminate some of the fears of adding video on the network," said Roberto De La Mora, Cisco's senior director of unified communications marketing.

"We also are expanding our cloud video-as-a-service options via a new on-demand virtual meeting room service we're making available via our hosted collaboration partners," he added.

An internal Cisco survey of enterprise desktop video conferencing forecasts an increase in usage from 36.4 million users in 2011 to 218.9 million by 2016, and IT professionals are demanding more and better tools for providing and handling this type of network-intensive video communications, he said.

The Cisco TelePresence Server and TelePresence Conductor products are getting a software upgrade designed to make adjustments to network resources based on video conferencing session requirements.

Available today, the upgraded software will recognize the requirements of the end point devices of different video conferencing session participants, for example allocating more bandwidth to people using large, high-definition displays, and less to those using a smartphone.

The Cisco products will be able to provision network resources in this more "intelligent" manner even to end point devices not made by the company, as long as they comply with codec industry standards.

The technology should help IT departments make more efficient use of their network resources, and ultimately lower costs, without changing their existing hardware, De La Mora said.

A similar enhancement is being made to Cisco's Medianet Services Interface (MSI), a software component that is embedded in video endpoints and collaboration applications for enhanced network resources usage based on policies and configurations set by IT administrators. This upgrade will be available before the end of this month.

In addition, Cisco plans to deliver in this year's first half deeper integration between its high-end TelePresence products and its midrange WebEx products, so that customers will be able to have both types of users on a single video conferencing session sharing the same two-way voice/video and content.

Currently, the only integration point in this scenario is voice -- TelePresence and WebEx participants can't see each other in the video conference, nor share their desktops and content.

Finally, Cisco will launch by the end of March a new cloud service for its Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) partners: on-demand virtual meeting rooms, which De La Mora likened to conference call bridges, except for video conferencing.

HCS partners include AT&T, Sprint, Telefonica, Verizon, Vodafone and other service providers, systems integrators, wholesalers and resellers that provide cloud-hosted Cisco collaboration software to their customers.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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