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Video’s killing the telephony star… but how’s your network health!

02 Mar 2012

Video IS killing the telephony star.  A survey run by SolarWinds confirms predictions at last October’s Oracle OpenWorld trade show that ‘video will be the platform for all forms of communication in IT as we go forward.’The soothsayer was no less than John Chambers, Cisco’s chief executive.He also predicted that by 2013, 91 per cent of all network traffic will be voice/video streams.While that might be expected from the head of a company with a vested interest in proliferating video delivery, the more recent SolarWinds survey confirms this trend.  The survey found that:

  • 89 per cent of respondents have deployed some level of video service within their network.
  • Assessment of network readiness to support video traffic is viewed as critical.
  • 75 per cent of respondents indicated that video monitoring and troubleshooting are either ‘Important’ or a ‘Must Have’ in their network monitoring system.
So, how does video impact the network and how do sysadmins go about ensuring both network performance and video quality?  Don’t think for a minute that because you haven’t built-out a Cisco Telepresence or Polycom system that you are not at risk of video significantly impacting the performance of your network.  The real impact likely will come from the use of desktop video.Today, desktop video is inexpensive to deploy. High quality web cams can be purchased for under $100, or they are already integrated into your laptop. Add free software (like Skype) or a package that may be included with another licence (like Microsoft Office Communicator) and voilà, you have deployed video conferencing.  The next thing you know is that it is going viral.  Heck, I get a video call from my daughter every afternoon when she gets home from school.So, I repeat the question: what is the impact on your network of all of this video and how do you ensure network performance and quality? I believe we simply don’t know the answer yet.  Every enterprise will be different, depending on its use cases and IT infrastructure.  By pro-actively monitoring the network, sysadmins can at least understand the current impact of video and plan for future capacity needs.Video and network monitoring can be accomplished with advanced hardware appliances that measure and monitor video call data records (CDRs) in real-time to provide information about utilisation patterns and demand trends, so that you can start to predict capacity needs. Unfortunately, these products tend to be expensive, difficult to deploy and difficult to use.Another more cost-effective approach is to use network and traffic monitoring software products such as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, NetFlow Traffic Analyser and IP SLA manager.  These allow you to monitor overall network and traffic performance pro-actively and view detailed statistics such as bandwidth utilisation, one-way latency, jitter, loss, and QoS statistics.