LAS VEGAS -- Wide area networks (WANs) were never originally designed to handle the amount of traffic video imposes. Now business critical applications must contend with video traffic, because video-enabled desktop computers and mobile devices are finding their way to the enterprise.
Employees have become familiar with consumer video services, like Skype's video conferencing and Google's video chat. Some are even using these consumer video-conferencing services to bypass enterprise communications that are lacking features and capabilities they've become familiar with.
A panel at Interop 2012 proposed a solution: move video applications to the cloud. Panel members contended that the move to the cloud could potentially help address the previously unanticipated bandwidth concerns of network managers. Redirecting this traffic off the WAN and onto the cloud is an idea that has vendors torn. So, should enterprises select a "best of both worlds" approach -- a hybrid video cloud environment?
Video in the cloud: Lessening the bandwidth burden
Bring your own device (BYOD) presents another obstacle to video over the WAN. "[BYOD is] adding a whole new number of devices that can be creating and consuming video on the network," said Andy Howard, managing director of Howard and Associates, a communications consultancy firm and moderator of the Interop 2012 panel.
The addition of mobile devices is changing the way the network and the WAN must be built. "[Network managers] have to basically architect their networks, as users are not only running video over their 3G and 4G networks from their mobile devices but also over the enterprise wireless network," Howard said.
Enterprises have noticed the growth in video-enabled devices on their networks, and are enlisting the help of service providers for running video in the cloud. "Gartner predicts that video as a service within the enterprise will grow by 40% by 2015," Howard noted.
There are certain efficiencies associated with running video across your WAN, said Marty Hollander, senior vice president of market development for Vidyo. "But if you're a company and everyone has to communicate out the Internet and then come back, you need a lot of bandwidth. What really makes the most sense is a hybrid deployment."
Video used for internal communications within the company -- especially for collaboration -- will most likely be run over the enterprise network, Hollander said. "It's nice to think about video out there on the cloud, but there are cost implications you will eventually see from what that service provider charges you over time."
Wherever video goes, user experience comes first
The time for video hardware equipment and room-based video conferencing systems running over the WAN has passed, Hollander said. When employees within the enterprise move between branches and home offices, video services must be more flexible.
"Users are beginning to untether themselves and are using mobile devices for video. Why would they walk down the hall in the office or drive to a telepresence room when they can do a video conference right where they are?" he asked.
"The impact on the [enterprise] isn't just more bandwidth," Hollander continued. "It's really how do you enable a much greater network of multi-point meetings."
Location of video aside, "It's really important that a video experience is kept seamless for the user, whether the video is streaming across [the enterprise] network or in the cloud," said Roy Skillicorn, senior director of advanced services, telepresence practice management organization, for Cisco.
"I think there is this false idea that one-size-fits-all or the use cases are all the same. From there, the decision should be based on what makes sense for you as a company," Skillicorn said, noting that some enterprises may want more control over video than others.
Users are not just using video conferencing, but creating their own content and uploading that data to a server -- and being able to access and search that data is becoming very important, Howard observed. "[Enterprises] are going to want to be able to access content on your internal network so you don't have to use your bandwidth, but also put video content out on the cloud," he said. "It really depends on who needs to access the content and where they are accessing it from. There are solutions out there -- like the hybrid model -- that address this issue for the enterprise."
View all our Interop 2012 conference coverage from Las Vegas.
Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer
Dig deeper on Bandwidth and capacity planning