The one thing that was most apparent coming out of the 2016 CES event this past week is that Ultra High-Definition (UHD), otherwise known as 4K, is coming to the network sooner rather than later. While 4K content might still be the better part of a year away, it’s clear that everything from tablets to big-screen TVs will be connecting to networks to consume 4K content. Obviously, most of that content will be of the entertainment variety. But it’s also only a matter of time before everything from video conferencing to e-learning applications makes the shift to UHD.
In anticipation of that shift, Cisco has announced at CES a content delivery network, dubbed Virtualized Video Processing (V2P), and a Cisco Cloud Object Storage platform designed to make it feasible for operators of networks to take advantage of the scale of the cloud to support 4K content.
Rather than rely on traditional network appliances that don’t scale as easily, George Tupy, market manager for service provider video solutions at Cisco, says these offerings are delivered as software designed from the ground up to scale by taking advantage of standard IT infrastructure hosted in the cloud.
Cisco is forecasting that by 2019 about 68 percent of the traffic running on networks will be a mix of high-definition and 4K/ultra-high-definition video. The vast majority of the network infrastructure in place today is not designed to handle high-definition video traffic that consumes more network bandwidth than existing video. More challenging yet, Tupy says that when it comes to video, most networks today assume a one-to-many broadcast model. As end users become more adept at creating video content, Tupy says it’s clear that video traffic going forward will be moving in multiple directions across networks. The challenge, says Tupy, is that most existing networks are based on an appliance architecture that doesn’t cost efficiently scale to handle video.
As a result, Tupy says most organizations wind up over-provisioning existing networks to handle video traffic that can increase without much notice. By shifting to a cloud model, those same networks will be able to dynamically scale to handle increases in video traffic as needed, says Tupy.
Obviously, high-definition video is not as acute an issue for the average enterprise as it is providers of content such as Netflix and YouTube. But it’s also only a matter of time before high-definition video starts to clog existing corporate networks. Consequently, IT organizations of all sizes should start planning now for how they will handle streams of high-definition video content that, by this time next years, end users and producers of broadcast entertainment will be creating in exponentially larger volumes.