Why a network strategy is essential when you consider deploying video on your network
I am a NFL fan. Last week I was glued to radio and TV listening and watching Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay make the press announcement about letting Manning go from the Colts. I couldn’t get enough on TV so I got on my iPad and watched more videos of the analysis and the pundits speculate on the next home for Manning. It is a big deal for an NFL fan, like it would be for soccer fan if Lionel Messi was being let go from F C Barcelona.
The quality of the video, the easy access to it from a click of a button makes it tremendously easy in watching video. I do it on my laptop, my phone, my tablet and on my computer. Just out of curiosity, I looked at a random video about designing brick walkway (because I love gardening). It has nearly half a million hits! Video has proliferated unabated in the consumer space.
The business environments are not immune to this behavioral change. I see a lot of video proliferating in my day-to-day life in marketing. Executive staff all hands employee updates to on-demand training to video collaboration. Industry analysts have predicted that by 2013 at least 25% of communication will be based on some form of video. Put that in the context with millions and millions of messages exchanged every day. Video can enable richer collaboration among colleagues as well as improve customer service and engage potential customers. But first, your business network must be ready to carry a lot of video traffic.
Video has tremendous impact on the network over which it runs. HD streams consume a lot of bandwidth in the network. The power of video is lost if a conversation is garbled, or the image is choppy. Real time video is highly susceptible for network congestion and bandwidth constraints and has different quality of service requirements compared to data like email or web pages. So it is very critical to have a network strategy alongside video adoption to deliver a superior video experience.
Consider these 5 areas as you plan to deploy video in your network:
1. Low-latency network
Typical three-layer network architecture adds additional layer of hardware and the processing delay as the video packets traverse through the network. In today’s technology with such high-density products, high bandwidth products with 10G, 40G connectivity there is minimal motivation to stick with three-tier architecture. Instead collapse the distribution or aggregation layer where possible. Not only does it save you from stagnate capital, gives you a better performing network.
2. Enable end-to-end QoS
Quality of Service (QoS) helps prioritize traffic as it traverses your network. Data traffic bursts and can take up all the available bandwidth at that moment in time when the user request some data like loading up a web page or downloading a huge file. This sudden burst impacts real time video application unless the network assures certain bandwidth for the video traffic. A note of caution to the network administrators - considered standards based solution. Otherwise you may not be able to implement end to end quality of service and in cases of proprietary implementations you may be locked out of using anything but that technology everywhere in your network.
3. Video friendly WAN
Video collaboration typically happens across multiple campuses or geographically dispersed sites. Even though compression or optimization technology may not add much value to real time stream, what you can do is optimize other traffic flowing over the wide area network to make more bandwidth available for the time sensitive traffic. Consider WAN optimization to reduce bandwidth consumed by other application data. Another technology to consider is stream splitting. You send only one video stream over the WAN and the stream is split into multiple local streams reducing the consumed WAN bandwidth. I found this video blog interesting from Jim Rapoza from Aberdeen Group on the key trends in 2012 impacting network including proliferation of video. He talks about optimization and application acceleration trends.
4. Do not forget your mobile users
Mobility is one of the fastest growing segments of networking. Industry research indicates that 50 billion devices will be connected to WLANs by 2020. That is a lot of video capable devices like laptops, smart phones and tables. The WLANs were designed for ease of connectivity and access to the network. The latest 802.11n technology with 3x3 MIMO supports three simultaneous spatial streams that allow near 1 Gb/s connectivity. IT managers should consider implementing 802.11n-based WLAN with 3x3 MIMO technologies for video communication over wireless network.
5. Ensuring security
Video streams and video applications are equally vulnerable for security threats. The security of the network is as strong as the weakest link. To provide comprehensive security IT administrators should consider three key elements to protect – the video content store, video applications and video stream. Consider technology like deep packet inspection and application digital vaccines to ensure your video roll out is secure.
For the most successful rich media deployment, I suggest you make sure your network is capable of delivering high-quality video and audio on your entire network.
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