To effectively plan and design a business video network, you must first understand the requirements for the particular type of business video you’ll be using. This brief overview of the five primary categories comes from Cisco’s white paper: Business Video Planning: Consider the User Experience and Operational Efficiency
Many-to-Many, Real-Time Interactive, High-Definition (telepresence and high-definition videoconferencing)
The major challenge here is achieving very stringent network performance targets. Telepresence, for example, is 100 times more sensitive to packet loss than VoIP since it is compressed by nearly 99 percent. Even one dropped packet out of 10,000 is clearly visible on a large screen, detracting from the immersive experience. General requirements include:
- Sufficient bandwidth: The typical requirement is 4-12 Mbps per endpoint.
- Quality of service: Network switches and routers look at each packet’s QoS markings to determine its priority relative to other traffic on the network. Telepresence traffic needs the highest priority, above application traffic, FTP, email, and so on.
- Scheduling: If telepresence traffic for a scheduled session from 1 to 2 p.m. will pass through three routers, the scheduling application needs to instruct all three routers to reserve the appropriate amount of bandwidth for the duration of the session.
- Storage and playback: If you plan to capture and store high-definition video for later playback, the medianet design must consider the bandwidth needed for playback. Playing back the video in another telepresence room requires the same bandwidth as an interactive telepresence session, while playing it back on a desktop requires less bandwidth. Centrally recording and storing video significantly affects storage requirements, depending on the number of videos, stored video resolution, and retention periods.
Many-to-Many, Real-Time Interactive, Low-Definition Video (Cisco WebEx and standard-definition videoconferencing)
While a medianet designed for telepresence has most of the capabilities needed for Cisco WebEx and videoconferencing, there are however, a few additional capabilities:
- Packet inspection: Switches and routers ordinarily regard Cisco WebEx traffic as data traffic. But the packets actually need priority treatment because they include latency-sensitive video.
- Support for unpredictable usage: Since videoconferencing calls are often spontaneous, as opposed to a scheduled telepresence call, the design must account for unpredictable traffic peaks.
Many-to-Few, Noninteractive, Low-Definition Video (IP video surveillance)
If you need to capture video from multiple devices and displays them all on a single console, you must consider:
- Scalability: Typically, each standard-definition IP video surveillance camera requires 3 to 4 Mbps of WAN bandwidth, or 40 Mbps for 10 cameras.
- Reach: Your organization might want to enable personnel in any facility to view video surveillance feeds from any other facility, even in another country. Other organizations might prefer to restrict access to camera feeds to local personnel, for security reasons.
- Manageability: A well-designed plan specifies where to store video, retention policies, and how to search. The plan should also address integration with notification systems, such as who to alert when a camera detects a human in a certain area.
Few-to-Many, Non-Real-Time Video (digital signage)
Many signage deployments are noninteractive, but those with touchscreen displays are interactive and have somewhat different requirements. Design considerations include:
- Workflow: Organizations need processes and technology to capture, store, and distribute streaming video and store-and-forward video. A content strategy is vital to help ensure that signs are not blank for part of the day, and that content conforms to corporate branding guidelines for look and feel.
- Integration with other business video: When your digital signage is not displaying news, announcements, or promotions, you might want to broadcast TV news, third-party advertising, streaming events with limited seating, etc.
- Third-party content: If your organization sells advertising, a digital signage solution that provides a secure interface for advertisers avoids the need for the IT team to spend time on content submission and scheduling. Schools and other public organizations that use digital signage for emergency notification and instructions might want to give public safety agencies a direct interface to broadcast updates.