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Analysis: Video in the Enterprise

From corporate communications to customer support, a video stream is the next best thing to being there. Here's how to make it work on your network.

  Download a free PDF of this article at InformationWeek Reports  

Video is keeping forward-thinking network architects at their desks long past the dinner hour. Is it the next killer app for corporate networks? Or, maybe it will kill the network, literally. If your video initiative sucks up too much bandwidth, can it be slimmed down without creating herky-jerky output? If no policy has been defined, should IT simply treat video as just another P2P application, like Kazaa, that needs to be monitored and possibly blocked?

The phenomenon known as YouTube means IT can no longer simply ignore the issue. Most enterprises have all but stamped out illegal downloads of music and movies, but YouTube is HTTP-based. It's harder to regulate, especially when employees use the service for legitimate reasons, such as sharing short training videos or sending video messages that have to do with work-related activities. Yeah, we know, for every one legit use you're seeing hundreds of dancing cadets and sobbing heiresses doing the perp walk. But making training, customer sales and support, and corporate communications richer and more cost-effective provides a solid rationale for accommodating video traffic. Here's what you need to know.

Training Day: Video Changes Everything

The training paradigm is shifting: Many large corporations now have CLOs (chief learning officers) charged with assessing training needs and acquiring and delivering tailored curriculums. Cisco and other vendors have shown that the vast majority of training can be delivered without a classroom instructor or travel, with employees completing sessions synchronously or asynchronously, in bite-size increments or during off-peak hours using Webinars, Web-based collaboration and self-study courses. At this year's Interop, for example, LifeSize Communications had a crowd watching its HD videoconferencing system, which used only about 1 Mbps of bandwidth.

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