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Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

If so much traffic on the network becomes video, then it's inadequate to just say that "video" gets priority, right?

That's the argument Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is putting forth today as it sets the stage for its Medianet 1.0 features, which are going to include an automated way of prioritizing one type of video traffic over another. Think of it as an extra quality of service (QoS) layer just for video.

It's primarily for the enterprise. So, the CEO's telepresence call would get assured bandwidth, while your surreptitious NCAA basketball tournament viewing wouldn't. (What happens with the CEO's March Madness is up to the IT department.)

The Medianet features will be supported on the bevy of products Cisco announced today, including a new set of fixed-configuration switches and the Integrated Services Router 3900E, the biggest of the ISR G2 family of customer-premises boxes. The new boxes also include security and energy-savings features.

"Medianet" is Cisco's term for an IP network that caters to the needs of video. The new switches and routers are ready for these Medianet capabilities, but the software to make it all happen will be available later, probably within the year, says Marie Hattar, vice president of marketing for Cisco's Borderless Networks unit. (See Cisco's Video Transformation .)

For video prioritization, the key will lie in having the device and the network talk to each other to determine what's being transmitted and what kind of bandwidth is available. On the surface, it sounds a lot like the intelligence Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) talked about with its Infranet Initiative, which led to the creation of the IPsphere Forum in 2005. (See Juniper's Infranet Takes Baby Steps and Infranet Becomes IPsphere.)

Cisco will also use DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to see what services are being launched, but the device handshake is a more direct approach that will let Cisco change the behavior of the network. Decisions would be made based on identity and policy information, and the rules set by the IT department.

Hattar also notes that Cisco will pack Medianet with translation know-how, tailoring a video stream for the device it's being viewed on (using lower bandwidth for a mobile device, for instance). "The intent is for all of this to be automatic," she says.

Cisco is adamant that the approach will be based on standards. For example, the switches will reserve bandwidth by using the Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP), a common feature of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

But of course, the really interesting parts -- the device handshake and the automation of prioritization decisions -- are being developed by Cisco, and the company isn't revealing many details yet about how they work. It's those elements that will probably be taken to standards bodies like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) later, according to Hattar.

Medianet's video prioritization features are targeted at enterprise networks now, but Cisco expects carriers to make use of the technology, too. "Video will traverse the service provider network, so ultimately, this is one of those services that can extend across a service provider network end-to-end," says Hattar.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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chechaco 12/5/2012 | 4:41:07 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

The scaling might kill if this applied to the Internet. If I understood the article correctly, new products and service enabling targeted towards enterpises. Enterprises use VPNs and for VPN relationship among microflows should be irrelevant. Assume that your PSN supports four Classes of Service, then all different priorities on the customer side has to be mapped to these four. Any "preferential treatment" among multiple video services that run simultaneously will be only on CE nodes, assuming your provider would not oversubscribes your premium service. How important, in my view, is this new offer from Cisco? Perhaps it is first time RSVP being extended into enterprise instead of "throw bandwidth at them" approach. And, hopefully, "point and click" service provisioning, of course.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:41:07 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

Could be.  IntServ predates me, so I can't speak to the similarities -- but I like your point.


Is it feasible that processors have gotten fast enough to keep up?


Or maybe the scheme doesn't allow every session to request bandwidth.  There might be a simple triage in the routing/switching/DPI that tells the network to go best-effort on the majority of sessions.

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 4:41:07 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

On the surface, if I try to read between the lines of the marketing fluff, this looks a lot like the IntServ vision from, oh, maybe 10 or 12 years ago.  A vision that never took off because it supposedly didn't scale.  What's different here?  Have the scaling problems with signaling for individual flows been resolved?  Or is there something fundamentally different with this (m)architecture?

mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:41:06 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video




Is it feasible that processors have gotten fast enough to keep up?


Or maybe the scheme doesn't allow every session to request bandwidth.  There might be a simple triage in the routing/switching/DPI that tells the network to go best-effort on the majority of sessions.


It's because maintaining state in the network is both unscalable and less robust.


Read RFC1958 for the Architectural Principles of the Internet for why converting the Internet into a circuit switched network won't work.




chechaco 12/5/2012 | 4:41:06 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

I'm sorry, but it, whatever it was, is not readable. Though, might be it wasn't meant to be ...

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:41:06 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

let'sreviverealatmpnnisvps?#$%^&*()$%^&*()

svppathsprovidemoregrandularitythanmpls'sthatwillbeneededsoon.

thiswayyousolicitandreservebandwidthoverapathandthroughnodesthatisguaranteedtosupportstatistacallyallserviceswithfastrecovery.

orlet'sjustgowithbesteffortandbuymuchmorecheapbw(sarcasm)

op

btw-ciscoproposedoriginalpnnistandard.

psisvideojittersensitiveordelaysensitive???

 

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chechaco 12/5/2012 | 4:41:05 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

"why converting the Internet into a circuit switched network won't work"


Yes, the Internet, as the whole, will never become connection oriented, but that doesn't mean that one, two, or even three providers will succeed in building connection oriented packet transport networks in their own domains (it's like theory of building socialism in a single country rather than in the whole World). But this question, as I understand it, is orthogonal to what new Cisco product is trying to achieve. The product, as announced, is specifically enterprise-oriented and no claims regarding end-to-end CoS had been made so far by Cisco, its affiliates or representatives.


arpaktos 12/5/2012 | 4:41:05 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

You are not missing anything :) and that's the problem. A new generation of engineers and marketeers that forgot to read the 1000s of papers and books that were written in the 90's .. More and more I am getting convinced that this industry suffers from "long term memory" loss ... or people believe that repeating the same behaviors will produce different results (other than keep this new generation of engineers and marketeers employed)

t.bogataj 12/5/2012 | 4:41:04 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

Not that you are missing something, you confuse things -- just as the announcement itself does.


First of all, it is not clear whether intra-video stream differentiation is targeted for enterprise or residential. The example is given for the enterprise environment, but I doubt that that is the real case. The residential users, however, do not need this differentiation -- the video service (say, multicast TV) is already differentiated from internet video.


Next, if Cisco is really so keen to use only standard technology, why on earth does it make such an announcement? Look, folks, we'll do all the well known stuff? Certainly not Cisco-like.


Will the "new" stuff be L3- or L2-based? Knowing the Cisco's attitude, I would guess L3. What is standard within L3? Yes, IntServ. (By the way, scaling was an issue years ago; it is no longer a problem.) Within L2, the IEEE's AVB (Audio-video bridging) is already here, basically reusing the RSVP's stream-reservation principles on L2, along with prioritisation. Ergo, there is no need to push for new standardisation (be it in the IEEE or the IETF) -- unless Cisco is again pushing another non-standard approach.


Regarding circuit switching in Ethernet: We've witnessed the rise of T-MPLS and PBT (PBB-TE) and EVC and E-LINE and similar "inventions" that are really incompatible with Ethernet principles. But! helping your customers keep their circuit-switching mindset by offering them boxes that they can understand *does* help selling the boxes.


tata,
T.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:41:01 PM
re: Cisco Wants New QoS for Video

> Next, if Cisco is really so keen to use only standard technology, why on earth does it make such an announcement? Look, folks, we'll do all the well known stuff? Certainly not Cisco-like.


Cisco's talk of standards usually means "standards, but also things developed inside cisco that later get proposed to standards bodies."  And yeah, that gives Cisco an advantage.  I've gone around with them a couple of times about that; they don't deny it.



It's not like Cisco is the only company doing that.  But they talk about "open" and "standard" so much that it's good to be reminded that they don't have the same mindset as, say, the open-source community.


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