As discussed in the previous report in this series, Cisco has been marketing its ability to deliver multifaceted visual media over IP networks. (See Testing Cisco's IP Video Service Delivery Network.) These media-aware networks Cisco calls "medianets" encompass network elements such as Cisco’s 7600, ASR 9000, and CRS-1 routers, data center switches like the Nexus 7000 and 5000, and a set of associated services that deliver media applications.
This is the second of three reports covering Light Reading's and EANTC's massive test effort of several aspects of the Cisco's IP video end-to-end solution. The first report focused on the service delivery network. The final report, coming next week, will concentrate on the data center infrastructure. This report is dedicated to IP video applications, including the creation of a unique user experience and adding ways for service providers to make money on IP video services.
Building applications for IP video networks and delivering new services to consumer TVs is a software-centric business. Those aren't Cisco's roots, but it is an area where the company known for its switches and routers has spent billions in R&D and acquisitions in the past several years. (See Cisco's Latest Buy: Flippin' Sweet, Cisco Gains Presence With Jabber Purchase, Cisco Pays $120M for Pure Play, and Cisco to Acquire Scientific-Atlanta.)
In this study, EANTC and Light Reading independently confirmed that Cisco could demonstrate an ability to create advanced IP video applications for consumers and enterprises, including:
- Advanced advertising insertion
- Session shifting among the TV, mobile phones, and computers
- A personalized user interface on the TV
- Web 2.0 integration with the TV set
- Adding user-generated content to an IPTV provider's traditional programming fare
For service providers looking to make money with subscriptions, transactions, revenue sharing, and advanced advertising on IP video networks, Cisco's foray into IP video applications will be of special interest. What's more, consumers will want to read about these demonstrated capabilities as well. They'll want to discover: What is Cisco showing it can do that their current pay TV providers lack?
Having already discussed our approach to testing in the previous report, it is important to note that we spent some time coming up with a methodology for validating the applications presented by Cisco. This wasn't a test, per se, so the challenge we faced was to make sure that the capabilities that Cisco wanted to demonstrate were truly supported and performed well. If testing a router, switch, firewall, deep packet inspection device, or entire network solution for performance and scalability values were the target of the test, our testing partner for this engagement, Spirent Communications, would be able to measure them.
Things were different for this exercise – we needed to verify that a specific feature simply existed.
We agreed to the following conditions:
- EANTC would receive a live presentation with the complete solution, live devices, and TV screens at Cisco’s media-centric briefing center.
- EANTC reserved the right to examine any part of the infrastructure, trial the applications ourselves, and disconnect any cable in the lab (and we did just that on more than one occasion). This enabled us to physically verify that the demo we were receiving was really running over the network.
- EANTC used Wireshark to monitor the network and record the traffic flows presented on the demonstration screens. The Wireshark packet traces allowed us to see that the set-top boxes, for example, were sending the appropriate requests for multicast groups, requests for content on the Web, etc.
Once we agreed to the above we felt comfortable to independently explore Cisco’s IP video applications. Following is the hyperlinked table of contents for this report:
- Page 2: A Man's Home Is His CAISL
- Page 3: IP Video Network Monitoring Tool
- Page 4: Web 2.0 Integration Over Cable & DSL
- Page 5: Walled Garden Over Cable & DSL
- Page 6: Customizable User Interface Over Cable & DSL
- Page 7: User-Generated Content
- Page 8: Advanced Advertising
- Page 9: Amazon Set-top Box Integration
- Page 10: Session Shifting
- Page 11: Multipoint Telepresence
- Page 12: Conclusions
— Carsten Rossenhövel is Managing Director of the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , an independent test lab in Berlin. EANTC offers vendor-neutral network test facilities for manufacturers, service providers, and enterprises. He heads EANTC's manufacturer testing, certification group, and interoperability test events. Carsten has over 15 years of experience in data networks and testing. His areas of expertise include Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Carrier Ethernet, Triple Play, and Mobile Backhaul.
— Jambi Ganbar is a Project Manager at EANTC. He is responsible for the execution of projects in the areas of Triple Play, Carrier Ethernet, Mobile Backhaul, and EANTC's interoperability events. Prior to EANTC, Jambi worked as a network engineer for MCI's vBNS and on the research staff of caida.org.
— Jonathan Morin is a Senior Test Engineer at EANTC, focusing both on proof-of-concept and interop test scenarios involving core and aggregation technologies. Jonathan previously worked for the UNH-IOL.
Next Page: A Man's Home Is His CAISL