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NBC Jumps on Cisco's Cloud

Looking towards next month's Winter Olympic Games, NBC signs up as the first customer for Cisco's new cloud-based version of Videoscape platform.

Mari Silbey

January 7, 2014

3 Min Read
NBC Jumps on Cisco's Cloud

LAS VEGAS — Signing up as one of the first customers for Cisco's new Videoscape cloud solutions, NBC Universal will use the platform for video transcoding and content management in its multiscreen coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia next month.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) unveiled its new cloud software and services at a media reception and demo event at CES here Monday evening. The latest components of the Videoscape multiscreen video platform are built on OpenStack, an open-sourced cloud operating system. With the new platform, service and content providers can now either host their own deployments of the Videoscape technology or work with Cisco on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis. (See Cisco Moves Videoscape to Cloud .)

"Our SaaS deployment is open and modular," explained Joe Cozzolino, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Service Provider Video Infrastructure group. Programmers and operators can mix and match the different pieces of the platform they need and purchase cloud services on a pay-per-use basis. Available services include video encoding for 4K TV and implementations of new Cisco software called Videoscape Open UX Foundation, which was created to smooth the delivery of HTML5 applications to set-tops, gateways, tablets, and other video-enabled devices.

For the Sochi Games, Cisco said in a press release that NBC Universal will use its Videoscape Acquisition Suite, Videoscape Media Suite, Videoscape distribution suite, and "Videoscape clients, including set-top boxes and HTML5-based soft clients." In an adjoining press statement, Craig Lau, vice president of information technology for the Olympics at NBC, said network officials are "excited about the benefits and options cloud-powered video services bring us, including added agility, portability, flexibility and scalability of our networks, to meet the demands, with much less engineering and prep time."

Beyond the NBC announcement, Cisco's press event included several demos of cloud-based software applications. Nick Thexton, CTO of the company's Service Provider Video Infrastructure group, showed off a proof-of-concept application connecting a tablet to video on the television screen. The application allowed Thexton to view a small strip of live TV content on his mobile device while interacting with other Web-based apps on the tablet at the same time. As the same TV program played on the main TV screen, Thexton could control the playback functions from his tablet and even send applications to the TV as an overlay on the live content.

For example, Thexton brought up relevant program information in small tiles on his tablet and then transferred those same visual assets to the larger flat-screen display. He did the same with content from social networking applications, demonstrating how he could project tweets on to the video of a basketball game playing on the main TV. Thexton emphasized that all of this activity could also be measured, with detailed analytics provided back to a service provider.

To round out the event, Cisco executives also demoed 4K video playing on an RDK (Reference Design Kit) set-top box. In addition, they showed off a new 4K version of the Snowflake user interface, which Cisco inherited when it acquired NDS in 2012.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Mari Silbey

Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Mari Silbey is a senior editor covering broadband infrastructure, video delivery, smart cities and all things cable. Previously, she worked independently for nearly a decade, contributing to trade publications, authoring custom research reports and consulting for a variety of corporate and association clients. Among her storied (and sometimes dubious) achievements, Mari launched the corporate blog for Motorola's Home division way back in 2007, ran a content development program for Limelight Networks and did her best to entertain the video nerd masses as a long-time columnist for the media blog Zatz Not Funny. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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