Cisco launches video-publishing gear

Cisco wants to bring the YouTube phenomenon to enterprises with the launch this week of its Digital Media System — a product set designed to let businesses create, manage and publish IP video content.

Cisco introduced a set of IP video hardware appliances designed to let organizations shoot, edit and publish their own video content on the Web or over internal networks.

The new lineup of gear aims at an array of target customers. Examples could include businesses that publish corporate training videos over a WAN, schools distributing Web-based educational videos, local governments streaming public meetings and hearings, or public service announcements in stadiums or airports.

The new video products include:

— Digital Media Encoder 2000 and 1000 series. The 2000 is a studio-grade video encoder appliance that can encode multi-channel digital video; the 1000 is a portable device that can encode single-channel video for mobile broadcasts or location video shoots.

— Digital Media Manager. This is a data-center server appliance for managing and publishing video content, content tagging, video production workflow management and archiving.

— Video Portal. This is a Web appliance which also sits in a data center and hosts video content for browser-based clients and standard media players such as Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and Flash (with QuickTime and MPEG4 format to come by year-end).

These products are available now as a package priced at US$133,000, Cisco says.

The Cisco Digital Media System also integrates with the vendor’s content distribution, management and caching products, sold under its Application and Content Network System (ACNS) product brand. For example, the Digital Media Manager can synchronize the distribution of content to Cisco ACNS devices in remote offices, which cache the video locally for quicker access, the company says.

While the new Digital Media System gear is supposed to create an instant video publishing capabilities for an enterprise, the system lacks tools for configuring network switches and routers to support video. IP Multicast configuration, QoS, and other settings must be fine-tuned separately from the Digital Media System, Cisco says.

The Digital Media System “sets up the streaming environment, and software and portal environments for digital media,” and it coordinates content distribution via ACNS gear, says Thomas Wyatt, general manager of Cisco’s Digital Media Management business unit. “If you wanted to enable routers to do multicasting, you would go into the normal Cisco management software to do that.”

Setup and configuration of the Digital Media System is done through a wizard-based tool, which allows users to set parameters such as video streaming quality, availability and the number of concurrent users on the system, Cisco says.

Cisco has charged hard into the video market over the past year, acquiring cable TV equipment giant Scientific-Atlanta and IP video surveillance firm SyPixx. The company is also expected by the end of this year to launch new telepresence technology, which combines high-definition IP videoconferencing technology and large display equipment for conducting long-distance meetings over IP networks.

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