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Internet2 Video Exchange Update: Additional Capabilities Online

May 16, 2012, by Ben Fineman
Tags: bad_text, imported, Internet2 Video Exchange, Network Infrastructure, Video Services

Cisco C210s - Photo by Jeff HagleyInternet2 Video Infrastructure

Things have been moving along in the world of Video Services. On the heels of bringing the signaling core of our new exchange online last month, we've now received and installed the infrastructure for several more critical capabilities. We gave our video engineer Jeff Hagley a few days to recover from the Internet2 Spring Member Meeting, and then sent him back to the East Coast again to work with staff from Indiana University's GRNOC on installing and provisioning this new gear. After a couple late nights, we now have online:

  • Firewall traversal, for both endpoints in institutional infrastructure, in the form of a Cisco Video Communications Server Expressway (VCS-E),
  • Signaling and registration for Cisco TelePresence endpoints and bridges, in the form of a Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM),
  • A switching bridge (as opposed to a transcoding bridge), in the form of a Cisco TelePresence Multipoint Switch, and
  • A session border controller for SIP voice trunks, in the form of a Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE-ENT).
We think that adding firewall traversal is a big deal because it will ease the historical firewall pain that we're all used to seeing for institutions that don't have their own traversal capabilities. We're also excited to be deploying this border element in such a way that our community members will be able to connect to it if they need those capabilities, but if they don't they can connect directly to the exchange core to facilitate optimal media routes (we don't want to force your video to flow through our exchange unless it has to).

Adding endpoint registration for Cisco TelePresence endpoints will round out our suite of endpoint registration capabilities to make it easy for institutions to deploy endpoints without needing to worry about the call control pieces. We still encourage every institution to have its own call control - it's most scalable to push call control to the edges of the network - but we understand that's not always possible.

The switching bridge will provide a nice complement to our primary transcoding bridge. The main advantages of a switching bridge are being less costly on a per port basis, and having lower latency. The downsides are limited interoperability (this one requires H.264 Baseline codec), and lack of continuous presence. We're hoping that in the future, call abstraction like Cisco's TelePresence Conductor or Polycom's DMA will be able to seamlessly bring together these different kinds of resources.

Finally, border control for SIP voice will enable us to bring voice calls directly to the exchange, perhaps in conjunction with Internet2's Net+ SIP Service in the future.

We're working hard to configure and test these new devices, and we're still on track to have things in production next month!