Few applications have the potential to burn as much bandwidth as telepresence, and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO, news, filings) continues to push the technology forward. Today at InfoComm the company announced a smörgåsbord of advances, many of which derive from the integration of Tandberg. One of the most interesting bits to me is the continuing work on interoperability. Cisco has now implemented its recently open-sourced Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) on its Tandberg Telepresence Server. Cisco isn’t the only one working on interoperability, today AT&T also announced a network based platform that interfaces with Cisco’s Telepresence offerings as well. It’s still early in the game for this technology, but the sooner the better IMHO.
Cisco also announced an upgrade with its MSE 8000 chassis, accomplishing two things. First it handles more screens overall, e.g. tripling the capacity of individual multipoint conferences. And second, it allows multiple separate conferences to efficiently share and use the same set of blades. Both improve the ability of the product to scale while keeping costs in check. Then there were several ‘endpoint’ improvements, with a Mac client, a VMWare-enabled single server housing three components aimed at serving the SME marketplace more affordably, a rather cool touchscreen control pad, and technology for dealing with packet loss.
Honestly, I thought it would be a few years yet before Telepresence really started to catch on enough to make a dent in the bandwidth markets. But Cisco’s announcements, advances by other vendors, and comments from networking folks at carriers suggest that the technology is really starting to move beyond the ‘futuristic but impractical’ stage. Bring it on!
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