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Cisco launches Content Delivery System for video on demand

Networking giant Cisco recently expanded the video and IPTV delivery capabilities of its Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) architecture with the introduction of the Cisco Content Delivery System (CDS). Cisco says that this solution offers both cable and wireline providers a highly-extensible platform for the delivery of video-on-demand and time-shifted video services.

The Cisco CDS enables carriers to accelerate the creation and distribution of advanced entertainment, interactive media and advertising services to subscribers’ televisions, PCs, mobile handsets, portable media players and other media-capable devices.

The Cisco CDS is the latest addition to the Cisco IP NGN Service Exchange Framework, a suite of technologies designed to enhance IP service control and enable content personalization.

The Cisco CDS is composed of a network of appliances known as Content Delivery Engines (CDEs) which implement content storage, ingest, distribution, personalization and streaming capabilities. Groups of CDEs form a virtual platform for deployment of a variety of Content Delivery Applications (CDAs). In various combinations, CDAs enable service providers to deploy multiple high-value subscriber services such as targeted ad-insertion in broadcast video and video-on-demand (VoD); program time-shifting; local programming; “long tail” content; and public, educational and government channels.

The Cisco CDS offers a network-centric approach to digital video and IPTV delivery. The company claims that this differs significantly from the ‘monolithic, centralized, server-based products available to date’, and that ‘the existing solutions are proprietary, hardware-centric, application-specific devices that are difficult and expensive to scale, cumbersome to operate and maintain, and unable to support the growth of video content and the proliferation of end-user devices’.

Cisco say that, regardless of system size and the number and mix of CDEs deployed, the Cisco CDS (in centralized, decentralized or hybrid configurations) operates as a single logical system with virtually unlimited capacity for ingest, storage and streaming. By physically separating ingest, storage and streaming into separate CDEs, each function scales independently of the others.

The solution uses a hierarchical storage design that enables the development of large content libraries while simplifying content storage management. Programming is preserved in a common, shared storage array that is instantly accessible for streaming anywhere in the network, while intelligent caching automates delivery of the content to the network edge in response to viewer demand. As a result, the most popular content at any point in time is cached locally on CDEs at the edge of the network. The resulting decrease in bandwidth demand on the network backbone helps providers lower costs and improve scalability.

Through resource pooling and load balancing, the Cisco CDS dynamically allocates storage and streaming resources across available CDEs based on real-time subscriber demand. This allows any CDE within an array to instantly assume the identity and state of another, enabling automatic failover and maintaining a high-quality viewing experience when a server is unavailable due a maintenance upgrade or hardware failure.

According to Cisco, unlike traditional VoD systems, the CDS eliminates the need to pre-position content at every streaming node in the network. Delivery of any content, from ingest to play-out on the subscriber’s screen, occurs within 300 milliseconds, regardless of where the content is physically stored within the network. This imperceptibly low latency — much lower than any other available solution — also enables the first true convergence of live TV with on-demand content, delivering personalized streams to each subscriber in the network without disrupting the broadcast timeline.

The Cisco CDS solution has been chosen by Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable and is in trials with a number of leading wireline providers around the world.

“Global adoption of digital, high definition and on-demand video services is accelerating — giving consumers greater choice and control while transforming the entertainment experience,” said Paul Bosco, Cisco vice president of cable and video initiatives. “Exciting new changes are also emerging in advertising, subscriber content and interactive services. The CDS family extends the Cisco portfolio of video broadcast and digital media products to power this revolution. We now offer next generation video and interactive service delivery platforms, built within our IP-NGN architecture, and complementing our set-top and other product portfolios to enable the ‘Connected Life.’ Our goal is to deliver the products, solutions and support services which enable the success of our customers in this fast-paced period of change.”

It was said that the only people to make money out of the California Gold Rush were the sellers of pickaxes and shovels. Cisco became a massive company by selling the infrastructure to facilitate the internet gold rush in the 1990′s. It will be interesting to see if they can do the same thing again with infrastructure for video on demand.

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