003. CISCO IP PHONES, DESK ENDPOINTS, & JABBER
To simply state that the Cisco endpoint portfolio is extensive and diverse is an immense understatement. The portfolio has evolved greatly since the first Cisco IP Phones were made available after the Cisco acquisition of Selsius in 1998. At that time, the true advance in technology was the fact that the phone was an Ethernet-connected device running a TCP/IP stack and capable of providing basic telephony features.
The SEP stands for Selsius Ethernet Phone. Cisco has slowly started to move away from differentiating IP Phones, software-based clients, desktop video endpoints, and immersive TelePresence room-based video endpoints. In the past, the distinction was important. Now the lines are blurring. These endpoints all have similar characteristics at the most basic levels and can be managed in a nearly identical manner.
It seems that video has become an increasingly vital means of communication. This means that video capabilities must move from that one conference room or the executive board rooms into the masses.
Every device must allow people to communicate in the manner of their own choosing. So, IP Phones, whether video capable or not, are simply collaboration endpoints.
Whether the device in question is an IP Phone, software client, desktop video endpoint, or an immersive video endpoint in a conference room, it is simply a collaboration endpoint. Making a video call is now easier than making a traditional voice-only call.
CISCO IP PHONE PORTFOLIO
The Cisco IP Phone portfolio consists of a rather wide array of options and feature sets. This diversity of features allows flexibility in deployment based on the needs of the individuals using the phone and the phone’s general purpose (lobby phone, break room phone, conference room phone, and so on).
There is no one-size-fits-all mindset when it comes to collaboration technologies. Different users will have different needs/desires in how and where they choose to communicate. The focus rests squarely on creating the best user experience regardless of the devices in question.
This section covers the following Cisco IP Phone models:
■ 3900 series
■ 7800 series
■ 7900 series
■ 8800 series
■ 8900 series
■ 9900 series
The order of is merely based on numeric value of the series rather than form, functions, or features.
002.04. CISCO COLLABORATION OVERVIEW
This article focuses on the early architectures and evolution of video-based communications and conferencing. As with the evolution of any technology, video has a reputation of being difficult and expensive. Video as a communication medium has been around for some time; however, only in the past few years has it evolved sufficiently to become a truly viable and cost-effective communications architecture solution.
Video collaboration technologies have a quite a formidable reputation to overcome. That reputation is one that generally casts it in a less-than-positive light.
However, that reputation is quickly being overcome as business needs continue to demand more frequent in-person meetings with colleagues, team members, customers, suppliers, students, teachers, doctors, and so on regardless of the distance and geography between them.
Over the past few years, Cisco has reinvented itself from a collaboration perspective. The cost of video endpoints and architecture has come down dramatically in a very short time. Removing cost as a barrier to the entry into the world of video conferencing has been an extreme boon for its continued expansion into the business world.
Regardless of whether the discussion is centered on audio or video, there are three essential types of conferences:
1. INSTANT (a.k.a Ad Hoc): You are talking to one person and want to add a third person to the call.
2. PERSONAL (a.k.a Rendezvous/meet-me): Permanent, persistent conference resource. Think of this as a personal virtual meeting room.
3. SCHEDULED: Invitations are e-mailed out ahead of time and resources reserved in advance.
The underlying principle is the same regarding video-conferencing. In video-conferencing, as in audio conferencing, there must be some kind of resource to handle the call media and attendees.
That is, there has to be some kind of resource, be it software or hardware, that can take in the media, mix it, and send it back out to the attendees. This resource is simply referred to as a conferencing bridge.
INTRODUCING CISCO COLLABORATION SOLUTIONS
Cisco collaboration solutions consist of a number of architectural components. The network provides the foundation on which the collaboration applications rely. The Cisco Preferred Architecture includes five subsystems within the collaboration architecture.
The technology categories include the following:
■ UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS:
Solution components aimed at bringing together voice, video, data, and mobile applications. This includes call control, gateways, and applications.
■ CUSTOMER COLLABORATION:
Solution components aimed at customer interaction, such as contact center applications and voice self-service products. This typically focuses on Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX) and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) solutions for customer interaction.
Solution components used to enable anyplace/anytime multiparty communications with a focus on security, high quality, and content sharing. This includes audio and videoconferencing products, web conferencing applications, and conferencing management/scheduling tools.
■ COLLABORATION ENDPOINTS:
These are the video and telephony desktop, mobile, and software components used by end users to communicate. This includes IP Phones, collaboration desktop endpoints, Cisco TelePresence room-based and immersive endpoints, software clients, and Cisco TelePresence integrations.
Regardless of how the Cisco collaboration solution architecture is broken down, the pieces remain fairly much the same. There is a high degree of modularity in the overall solution.
Many of the pieces can be mixed and matched to fit what is right for a given business or need. The underlying foundation is the call control element. Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) is the essential glue that holds the entire architecture together. The gateways are essentially extensions of the CUCM as it controls the ports through which calls will ingress and egress.
002.03. CISCO VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
CISCO PHYSICAL SECURITY SOLUTION
Although Cisco had already been involved in the video-surveillance market, they made a key acquisition in May 2007 of BroadWare Technologies. This acquisition brought many new and highly developed tools to Cisco’s solution. With these new products available, Cisco developed a strategy based on a different security product suit that builds on Cisco’s Medianet integration.
The two main components of Cisco’s video-surveillance solution are hardware and software products. Hardware products include Cisco Video IP Surveillance Cameras, encoders, and physical security management and storage servers.
Software products are used for monitoring video surveillance and controlling different aspects of the monitoring tools. Other solution elements include the Cisco Physical Access Manager and the Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (Cisco IPICS).
The Cisco Physical Access Manager appliance is a physical intrusion-detection solution using Cisco Physical Access Gateway devices to connect conventional wired sensors, along with other physical security elements through a converged IP network.
The Cisco Physical Access Manager appliance is a hardware and software solution that provides advanced configuration and management of the Cisco Physical Access Control system.
The Cisco Physical Access Manager desktop client is used to define access control rules, enroll users, manage badges, and configure the Cisco Physical Access Gateway modules, among other tasks.
The Cisco IPICS is a complete IP-Based dispatch and incidence-response solution with several capabilities. This solution provides an enhanced dispatch console; UHF and VHF radio interoperability; emergency first-responder notification; and integration with IP phones, cell phones, PCs, and mobile devices.
A Cisco end-to-end solution can be broken down into three categories:
■ Threat detection can be categorized by the physical security elements in a surveillance solution, such as cameras, motion sensors, and access control.
■ Threat monitoring is based on real-time and recorded threat-monitoring services. Such services may include door sensors and badges, fingerprint scanners or other biometric sensors, video-surveillance monitoring software, and other media management and storage components.
■ The third category of the Cisco end-to-end solution is threat response. This service includes the IPICS allowing integration with existing communication devices, whether that be a Voice over IP (VoIP), public switched telephone network (PSTN), or video collaboration solution.
CISCO VIDEO-SURVEILLANCE COMPONENTS
The Cisco video-surveillance solution can be divided into four service domains:
■ Input and output devices
■ Interactive view
INPUT AND OUTPUT DEVICES
The Cisco IP cameras include standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) capabilities. They communicate using IP and standards-based interfaces and protocols such as MPEG and H.264. Cisco IP surveillance cameras also include embedded security and networking, motion detection, and video analytics.
As mentioned before, Cisco Medianet offers the features PoE, automated provisioning, bandwidth optimization, storage optimization, and enhanced network security.
There are four series of cameras to choose from in the Cisco solution. Each has different capabilities to cater to the various needs of the customers. Some come in a box model, and some come in the dome model. The 6000 series comes in both box and dome models. The figure below shows box and dome cameras.
The Cisco Video Surveillance Manager Software (VSMS) is the management and control plane for the Cisco video-surveillance solution components. Cisco VSMS is a software suite that includes the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager, Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server, and Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix.
The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server software is the core component of the network-centric Cisco video-surveillance solution. This software is responsible for the recording, storing, and streaming of video feeds.
The Cisco Video Surveillance Storage System complements the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server software. Video can be stored in direct-attached storage (DAS), NAS, and SAN storage systems. The way it works is that each
IP camera or encoder sends a single video stream to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server.
This software is responsible for simultaneously distributing live and archived video streams to viewers over an IP network. In case of multiple view requests, the software replicates the unique input video streams to multiple output streams, based on request. For archive viewing, the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server continuously receives video from the IP camera or encoder, as configured per the archive settings.
The software sends video streams to the viewer only when requested. In environments with remote branch locations, this process becomes efficient because traffic needs to traverse the network only when requested by remote viewers. Video requests and streams are delivered to the viewer by using HTTP traffic (TCP port 80) or over HTTPS (TCP port 443).
Many storage components can be used. Those that have already been mentioned include DAS, NAS, and SAN storage. The Cisco Video Serveillance Multiservices Platform has also been mentioned. In addition, the Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR)-based Cisco video surveillance elements can be deployed.
The Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform is an easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy server suite. It offers scalable storage in a 1-RU to a 4-RU server platform, storing up to 24 TB.
As mentioned before, it supports video encoding with the optional encoder cards. There are four products in the Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform available. The virtualized applications for the Unified Computing System (UCS) offer the same high security as other offering, along with other benefits in a virtualized environment.
The physical footprint of an organization is reduced, and the installation process is simplified, by elimination the need for extra cabling, complexity, and power consumption.
002.02 CISCO DIGITAL MEDIA AND CONTENT DELIVERY
This article provides an overview of the Cisco Digital Media Suite (DMS) solution. DMS is a video content creation, editing, transformation, and delivery architecture intended for use in a variety of manners, including education, sport stadiums, restaurant menus, staff training, and as many other uses that a moderately active imagination might contrive.
Every question deserves an answer. The age old question “why?” comes to mind when businesses and educational institutions are first presented with DMS as a potentially useful and valuable architecture. In addressing that simple question, it is necessary to understand, at least in part, the roots of the technology.
Like many architectural solutions, DMS consists of a number of software and hardware components, each dependent on one another. They, in turn, make use of the underlying network and collaboration infrastructure. As the name implies, DMS is a video-based solution.
As such, its traffic must be properly protected and prioritized throughout the network. A well-designed quality of service (QoS) deployment is critical to the success of any video implementation.
CISCO DIGITAL MEDIA SUITE
In DMS, Cisco provides a comprehensive set of tools that enable companies to create flexible, scalable, and easily accessible content for end users, departments, peers, customers, and more.
DMS offers an all-in-one solution for webcasting, video sharing, digital signage, and IPTV applications. Making the integration of digital media into the day-to-day business flow enhances communication and changes the way we collaborate and interact with our peers, colleagues, and others.
Like any other architecture, DMS includes a number of modular components. This modularity allows the creation of a custom-tailored solution based on the business needs at the time of deployment and the ability to grow, and add additional modules, as desired. The subsystems of the DMS solution are as follows:
■ CISCO DIGITAL SIGNS: Digital signage subsystem that dynamically delivers content to be displayed
■ CISCO CAST: IPTV application that allows on-demand delivery of content
■ CISCO SHOW AND SHARE: Enables users to create live and on-demand content using social media aspects such as tagging, commenting, and rating
All the applications in the Cisco DMS solution work with the Cisco Digital Media Manager (DMM). DMM is a centralized web-based management portal through which all products can be administered. The DMM is also used in managing, scheduling, and publishing digital media content.
As content is created, it can be distributed via the DMM and autoplayed or selected via Cisco Cast (think IPTV Guide) by local personnel using a remote control. A Cisco Digital Media Player (DMP) resides at each endpoint to receive content and the local display.
Each subsystem uses the same underlying architectural components. That is, they use the Collaboration infrastructure for call control, provisioning, resource coordination, scheduling, and so on, along with digital media specific services, including the following:
1. Cisco TelePresence Content Server (TCS)
2. Cisco Digital Media Manager (DMM)
3. Cisco Multimedia Experience Engine (MXE)
4. Cisco Digital Media Players (DMP)
Each of these components plays an important role in the overall solution, although not all are required for every individual use case. It all comes down to the desired functionality and how, and whom, the system will be used.
We will stop there as far as Cisco Digital Media and Content Delivery solution is concerned. This is just a brief intro. If you want to know more please contact us for more details.
002. CISCO BUSINESS VIDEO SOLUTIONS
INTRODUCTION TO VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS
High-quality, immersive video capabilities provide what may be the single most transformative technology available today. Through the use of prescriptive best practices, Cisco has pushed video into the technological spotlight.
Video has long been seen as a gimmick technology, at best. A number of conditions have contributed to the view that video is simply not viable as a communication medium.
Thankfully, the current generation of video technologies and offerings has greatly changed that view. This article provides an overview of potential video use cases and architecture.
VIDEO USE CASES
Businesses are struggling to find ways to remain relevant with their employees, peers, competitors, stockholders/investors, and customers. This can necessitate a somewhat delicate balancing act when faced with cost cutting, productivity improvement, and innovation requirements. First and foremost, it should be stated that achieving this balance is possible.
The use cases for video are many and diverse. What follows is merely a cross-section of the possibilities for transforming the way business is done within your organization. Among the examples we will explore in this series of collaboration articles are as follows:
1. Video as an extension of telephony
2. Video meetings and conferences
3. Extending video communications to teleworkers
4. Video contact center
CISCO VIDEO ARCHITECHURES OVERVIEW
Like any true architecture, Cisco Video architectures consist of components. The architectures include a number of components working in concert to provide the desired user features and experience.
In addition, the architecture provides high availability and security. By implementing these components and services, it becomes rather simple to implement any of the video use cases mentioned earlier because they are all extensions of a common system.
The figure below shows an overview of the architectural components.
Each set of components is layered on top of the other components, and the endpoints make use of the features and functions provided at all levels. Also noted in the figure are remote sites and teleworkers mentioned earlier.
Once the architectural components are in place, adding more endpoints, regardless of location, requires only the endpoints to be added at each site.
Video is indeed the new dial tone. Video technologies are seeing expansive growth on all fronts, be it consumer, personal, desktop, immersive, conferencing, B2B, or any other of the implementation types you might think of. It is becoming a way of life for a large percentage of the world’s population. People are simply coming to expect to be able to make eye contact in any conversation regardless of device, distance, or circumstance.