The Nuances of Video on the Network

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One piece of conventional IT wisdom these days holds that IT organizations will soon have to upgrade their network infrastructure to accommodate rapidly increasing amounts of video traffic.

Driving this thinking is increased usage of video on the Web and the impending rise of high-definition video conferencing. But rather than being a problem for enterprise IT, video traffic on the Web is likely to be more of a challenge for Internet service providers.

This is because more companies are likely to opt to buy video conferencing as a service than they are to deploy and manage it on their own networks. Brian Trampler, vice president of video products for InterCall, a provider of unified communications services, says the complexity of delivering video over a corporate network, coupled with irregular usage patterns, make it a natural candidate to be delivered as a service versus having to lay out the capital to upgrade an entire network.

Trampler concedes that there are still issues in terms of adoption and implementation of standards such as the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) that make it difficult to interoperate across video conferencing services from different providers. But as those issues get worked out, customers will discover that it's a whole lot easier and more cost effective to leverage somebody's network to deliver these and other types of unified communications services. In the meantime, companies such as Intercall are setting up business-to-business exchanges around their technologies to allow companies using the same service provider to create a video conferencing session.

As for streaming video on the Web, that needs to be managed on the network when it's deployed internally. But most companies stream video to outside their network, so for internal usage most existing network infrastructure is sufficient to meet internal bandwidth requirements.

None of this means that video isn't going to be an important medium on the Web; it just means that companies need to be smart about how they go about consuming it.