As partners listened to Microsoft’ spiel at Microsoft WPC today, they may ask themselves the same question that any Google follower should be asking as well – with all of this talk about video, how is your network possibly going to keep up?
From Google+ to Lync to Facebook, application developers are rushing to embed video into the social , collaborative experience. If successful, employees exposed to those applications will come to expect the same in the enterprise - much like that they have with email, IM, microblogging, and more. But for that to happen some fundamental changes will have to occur in our networks. Most corporate networks today simply are not equipped to deliver enterprise-grade video. Cisco understood this with their introduction of the Enterprise Content Delivery System (ECDS). ECDS caches video local for redistribution at the remote site, saving on time and bandwidth need to retrieve the video over the WAN for each requesting user. Blue Coat’s MACH 5 has offered similar capabilities for some time.
Both Cisco's and Blue Coat's technologies will help employees watch YouTube or a corporate video address by caching the video at the local site, saving additional viewers the time and bandwidth needed to download the video. None though will help with video conferencing, the kinds of video being talked about for today’s collaborative applications. There’s a huge difference between video on demand and video conferencing. With video on demand, the challenge is a matter of bandwidth, caching the video addresses that problem.
With video conferencing, the challenge is intermittent packet loss. Unfortunately even at a half percent of packet loss, video quality suffers dramatically. The time it takes to recover lost packets can turn a 200ms delay, for example, into a one second delay after retransmission. Packet loss is endemic to shared networks and it's only going to get worse. Stay tuned to find out why.