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Cisco Makes Good On Promises: MediaNet, EnergyWise, TrustSec And New Products

Cisco has big plans for IT, and when the company launches initiatives like EnergyWise or TrustSec, the industry listens. But at some point, Cisco has to start delivering on those promises. Cisco has started the next phase of their Borderless Networks initiative, the purpose of which is to make computing seamless regardless of location or platform, with new product and feature announcements for Medianet, Energywise and Trustsec. Supporting the initiative enhancements are new switches and Integrated Services Routers. Love or hate Cisco, the company has a plan, articulates it well and delivers. Any infrastructure vendor that wants to compete with Cisco is going to have to step up.

It's no secret that Cisco is getting into real-time media in a big way from streaming video and video-conferencing to unified communications and VoIP. Part of the difficulty for IT is building and managing the network to support real-time services that ride along with all the other data. One pain point is identifying end devices and setting QoS parameters needed to deliver real-time media end-to-end.

Cisco is expanding Medianet to support the discovery of endpoint devices whether they are VoIP phones, cameras or displays. The discovery mechanism not only identifies the media endpoint, but the media properties, like video or audio resolution, and relates that to bandwidth, delay and jitter requirements. Based on the discovery, Medianet can set QoS parameters through the network, ensuring that the device can receive and display media properly. It's automated management that goes beyond what standards-based discovery mechanisms like the IEEE Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) and Link Layer Discovery Protocol-Media Endpoint Detection (LLDP-MED), which Eric Krapf describes in LLDP-MED: Learning About the Endpoint, currently offer. At present, Medianet only discovers the display and media details from Cisco devices, but the company says it will release an API for third-party vendors to support the discovery capabilities in the other devices.

Of course, many end-users use their desktops and laptops to both generate and receive multi-media, and Medianet doesn't have a view into a computer's display capabilities, but Medianet can also discover the multi-media requirements based on the initial exchange setting up the real-time stream. While this is more dyanamic and as such, less predictable than discovering devices as they come on line, real-time discovery and automated network grooming should ease configuration burdens.

Energywise 2.0 means more product announcements in the next phase of Cisco's power management program.  Energywise 1.0 offered basic, automated power management features such as powering on and off PoE ports, discovering and powering on and off IP phones, and integrated with Verdiem for desktop management. Phase 2, originally planned for the summer of 2009, brings Cisco's newest power management software, Orchestrator, which centralizes power management for a range of Cisco products including policy development and deployment, troubleshooting tools and a reporting engine to track energy usage over time. Cisco is also providing an API so that third parties can integrate with Orchestrator.

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