Will video kill the networking star?

Not likely – if anything video will help Cisco Systems Inc., a company synonymous with enterprise networking, by increasing traffic volume. But executives speaking at the company’s annual analyst conference in San Jose, Calif. this week believe video could redefine Cisco.

“I think this (video) is one of the single biggest new opportunities for Cisco and I believe given video’s pre-eminence in the minds of consumers and in fact, as we go ahead with TelePresence, in the minds of businesses, we may end up being known as a video company in the minds of most people who aren’t familiar with us,” says Charlie Giancarlo, Cisco’s chief technology officer.

TelePresence is a Cisco service launched this fall that relies on high-definition displays and custom-built furniture and microphones to deliver an experience designed to be closer to an in-person meeting than traditional videoconferencing.

Giancarlo’s very bullish on the future of TelePresence. “This is something we believe could be our fastest growth technology since switching,” he says. “We’re seeing that much interest in it.”

Another great opportunity for Cisco exists in unifying various separate video sources and devices, Giancarlo believes. Currently video surveillance footage typically goes to a monitor; broadcast programs go to a TV; and clips on YouTube go to a computer, he notes.

“Wouldn’t you want to be able to place a wireless camera on your front door and when you’re traveling if there’s motion on that camera you’d like to get a little page on your cell phone and see who’s standing outside your front door?”

A panel of analysts later agreed video has a very rosy future in both the consumer and enterprise markets. What’s held video in the enterprise back so far is complexity and a lack of quality tools to manage video traffic, says Zeus Kerravala, a vice-president with research firm The Yankee Group.

But products like Cisco’s TelePresence, which comes packaged with installation and service support, simplifying enterprise deployments, could help drive the adoption of more video within the enterprise, he believes.