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Tag Archives: Jitter

IP Video – It’s like Living with a Teenager

Teenagers. Maybe you have one (or more) at home; maybe not. But we’ve all been one, so I know you can relate. Moody and unpredictable. Overly sensitive. Taking up more space than any human has a right to. High maintenance. They’re just so adorable.

Well, it turns out we have an exploding data type on our networks that behaves much the same way – IP video. In a recent whitepaper by Cisco, it was reported that all forms of video (TV, VoD, Internet, and P2P) will be approximately 90% of the global consumer Internet traffic by 2015. And per the report, that’s 90% of what will be 966 exabytes, or nearly a zettabyte, of IP data. To see what that looks like graphically, check out this link. Although video traffic on the enterprise side will not be as heavy as that on the consumer Internet, it will increase dramatically nonetheless, and will certainly be much more than 50% of the enterprise network traffic by 2015. It looks like you’re going to need both network management and high school guidance counselor skills by 2015 to manage enterprise networks.

With this dramatic increase in video traffic, video will be in competition with enterprise corporate data, enterprise application access, SaaS, and cloud computing. And given its tendency towards teenage behavior, you’re going to have your hands full. Below are a few details of how the characteristics of IP video can adversely affect your enterprise network.

Unpredictable
Video is “bursty,” or in the teenage analogy, unpredictable, which is an undesirable characteristic for networks that work best under stable conditions – predictable and consistent. Packet sizes range all over the place, and often hit the network in large bursts. And of course these bursts are tagged with high QoS (quality of service) tags, so they take precedence over your other mission critical application data. Characterization of your IP video traffic, including weeding out business traffic from surfing, is critical to the health of your enterprise network.

Space Hog
Video is a bandwidth hog. One HD video stream can consume up to 20Mbps of bandwidth. So if five people are trying to stream a movie, it means that they are taking up 100Mbps of your network. This may not seem like a ton of traffic, but depending on the distribution of these users on your network, and the number of users serviced, bandwidth availability can certainly become an issue. And remember, the amount of video on your network is increasing all the time.

Overly Sensitive
Video is also very sensitive to latency, jitter and packet loss, even more so than voice, which we covered in this blog post. These sensitive protocols demand that your network is performing at its peak level to ensure that these issues are minimized. As video becomes more common on the network, performance demands will continue to grow and become harder to reach. Specific metrics and demands of latency, jitter, and packet loss are described in more detail below with this video segment and graph:

High-Maintenance
Due to the high performance demands of video, it is typically tagged for the highest QoS delivery as I mentioned earlier. However, as video traffic starts exceeding data traffic, enterprises will need to maintain different quality of service between users or video types since it is self-defeating for most of the traffic on a network to have the highest QoS tagging.

As video continues to grow, or as some might say invade, your enterprise network, it is more important than ever to plan and design your network to carry video. And just as the teenage years pass, the video phase will also pass in time, allowing networks to again hum along in a predictable pattern. That is, until the next disruptive technology come along! In next week’s blog, we’ll be providing some best practices on designing, monitoring, and managing your network to help that teenager grow up.

Can your Network handle Telepresence?

Telepresence is a big hit in the business world. For good reason too, not only does it provide unique and sophisticated remote collaboration but it’s inexpensive and more environmentally friendly. Enterprises are quickly discovering the business value in telepresence as it transforms conferencing into a lifelike and immersive experience with high-definition video, life-sized video displays, high quality sound and unobtrusive cameras and microphones. Cisco, who owns the mindshare around telepresence, couldn’t be more pleased.

With the technological benefits of telepresence comes the responsibility in making sure networks can handle the demand. Monitoring the network is critical as it carries the service for telepresence.

In terms of network strain, video is much more demanding than VoIP. VoIP expects regular delivery but video does not as it largely depends on movement and what is going on in the environment. Video is much more bandwidth intensive as well as more sensitive to latency, jitter and packet loss. In fact, below a certain quality threshold for video it is nearly impossible to see anything.

Organizations should understand their current baselines and network in preparing for telepresence. Key metrics include travel levels per segment, packets per second and packet size distribution. Also be aware of what the traffic level is per application including average rates, peak rates and weekly patterns. With this depth of understanding of network performance, organizations can better scope telepresence computing needs and validate network configurations.

There are three points to consider when implementing telepresence in a network environment:

1) Success breeds success

In order for employees to accept a new technology and adopt it fully, the initial experience using it has to be successful. Beat the outset; be diligent in terms on network analysis as this is when user opinions are formed. Expect the demands to be extreme when first introducing telepresence into the organization.

2) Success increases network demands

The more people that are using the successful technology, the more demand on the network. It’s important to stay in tune and not assume a certain baseline status will be reached. Network needs will constantly change depending on load.

3) Interoperability is key

Ensure quality across networks segments you don’t control. When monitoring and optimizing the quality of your network, try to reach for the best quality at the end point and don’t settle for the lowest common denominator.

Telepresence can provide an organization a lot of advantages and benefits provided the network is designed to handle it. In short, don’t compromise on what’s under the hood – the network and tools to keep it humming. Otherwise, your telepresence deployment will be remembered as an expensive mistake.