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The Unique Demands Of Networked Video Traffic

packet-lossWhen we talk about business class video networking, we definitely don’t mean Skype and its many cousins. Of course Skype is perfectly usable, most of the time, but its also all too often flaky, drops out unexpectedly or even just refuses to work when its having a bad day. The beauty of Skype is its value for money. Its free therefore VFM = ∞. However this only goes to show that value for money is not everything. It clearly isn’t. When dealing with customers, potential or existing, talking internally within an organisation, perhaps to a room full of people, or even just delivering training videos to the consumer, the requirement begins at the statement that it just needs to work.

Lets look at the reasons why network video traffic is so different.

Networked video generally exists in two flavours. Real time and Non real time. Non real time video is usually stored on a server and is compressed. Depending on the complexity of the compression algorithm, a tradeoff between quality versus transfer speed ensures that the file is transferred at a speed which is (usually) greater than the speed at which the video is being watched. Realtime video however is a very different animal and requires very specific and different network conditions.

Consider exactly what is happening across the network. At a location somewhere on the network video is being encoded into a data stream and fed into the network. That data stream must then cross the network with minimal delay and be reconstituted so that it can be decoded and ultimately viewed on a screen. Delay is the key here although there are other major considerations. Consistent delay can be dealt with albeit is not great on a video conference. The system will buffer the necessary data in order to overcome the delay and from there things pretty much work. When the delay is inconsistent and unpredictable we then see the real challenge. In these conditions, certain parts of the data may be late because the network dropped them and a retransmit was requested. For the most part however the drop simply results in glitches in sound and picture. Artefacts on the screen as the clever video engineers like to euphemistically call them.

video-landing-cros-sell-room-com-222x157-v2-enusSo, next time you’re sitting watching someone failing miserably to conduct an interview from home over their Skype console on the national news. Consider for a moment exactly what is not present in their network connection and conversely, when you’re watching a high quality video conference consider perhaps exactly how good the network in between must be.

Its not all about the network however, important as it undoubtedly is. The quality of the equipment in use at the endpoints of networked video connections play a major part in the overall experience. To take a look at the equipment that we at Rustyice sanction, sell and support click here.

UK Telehealth is finally coming of age.

According to new a research report, around 2.2 million patients worldwide are using a home monitoring service based on equipment with integrated connectivity at the end of 2011. The figure does not include patients that use monitoring devices connected to a PC or mobile phone. It only includes systems that rely on monitors with integrated connectivity or systems that use monitoring hubs with integrated cellular or fixed-line modems. It is forecast that the number of home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.0 percent between 2010 and 2016 reaching 4.9 million connections globally by the end of the forecast period. The number of these devices that have integrated cellular connectivity increased from 0.42 million in 2010 to about 0.57 million in 2011, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 34.6 percent to 2.47 million in 2016.

Some of the most common conditions being monitored today are chronic diseases including cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These conditions cause substantial costs and reduce both life expectancy and quality of life. It is estimated that more than 200 million people in the EU and the US suffer from one or several chronic diseases where home monitoring can become a treatment option. “Home monitoring solutions that can communicate over a cellular network, landline connection or the Internet have already reached significant volumes within cardiac rhythm management, integrated telehealth solutions, sleep therapy and cardiac event monitoring”, says Lars Kurkinen, Telecom Analyst, Berg Insight. He adds that connectivity is gaining momentum in several other segments as well, such as glucose meters and medication adherence systems.

Exploiting connectivity technologies in the UK healthcare industry can lead to decreased costs, more efficient care delivery and improved sustainability of the healthcare system. New care models enabled by these technologies are also often consistent with patients’ preferences of living more healthy, active and independent lives in their own homes. Progress is being made in the adoption of wireless technology among manufacturers of medical monitoring equipment. However, there is still a long way to go before remote monitoring becomes a standard practise in the healthcare sector.

Rustyice Solutions is monitoring this sector very closely and has already made some strategic moves in respect of this field. Keep an eye on this Blog for further announcements coming soon.

Scottish SME’s increasingly adopting the latest technology.

Nowadays, cloud computing, unified comms and virtualisation are the technologies most in demand but it would seem that the public sector will not be the sector who are most interested in them.

According to a recent Pearlfinders Index, which monitors trends and opinions in the IT world,virtualisation remained the most popular area for investment, and more customers were looking to move to the cloud.

But in terms of buyers of IT support the industry/manufacturing sector was followed by retail and financial services with public sector lagging well behind.

To meet the customer requirement the skills that these new adopters are looking for include an in-depth knowledge of software, hardware but also managed services and outsourcing capabilities.

When quizzed about what they hope IT to deliver the users had some specific aims with supporting growth and improving efficiency at the top of the wish list.

Virtualisation

The attitude towards virtualisation has changed with it no longer being seen as just a route to saving money but more as an option to introduce greater flexibility.

In just the latest few months of the year the reasons for deploying virtualisation changed with cost cutting dropping down the list of priorities.

In a recent interview, one of our customers said, “The drivers behind virtualisation work have changed massively. Cost cutting is certainly not our main reason. We are more interested in looking at virtualisation as a way to improve the flexibility of our operations and enhance storage/DR infrastructure as part of a previously planned hardware refresh. Also high priority for us are reasons of sustainability.”

Another extremely intersting development is that for the first time the data back from Pearlfinders shows a stronger demand for desktop rather than server virtualisation.

One of the benefits to this technology which is no longer being seen as the new kid on the block is that smaller firms are more willing to embrace what they now percieve as a tried and tested product. The influence of Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMware and Citrix in driving demand is also being seen across the sector.

If we look at Unified Comms the results were surprising with the public sector remaining a strong buyer for the time being.

Unified comms

A forward thinking IT manager at one of our customers said, “The growing penetration of hosted or cloud-based VoIP and UC platforms is driving uptake among SMEs and I am starting to win the battle when it comes to convincing the business that a hosted UC solution can be both cost-effective and high quality.”

The adoption of hosted VOIP is particularly interesting with a fairly significant spike in interest in Q2 2011. Reduced telephone call and line rental costs, including free
calls between all users within an implementation, the high level of business telephony functionality for all users with absolutely no maintenance and support charges, the minimal CAPEX outlays whilst moving towards a future-proof technology in which the investment is protected with free upgrades, the seamless integration of multiple locations with improved productivity and work-life balance through flexible working and finally built in business continuity with disaster recovery solutions out of the box, all conspire to present a compelling business case.

Another of the technological developments that should start coming through is the extension of video conferencing and messaging opportunities to tablets with the iPad, Samsung Galaxy and now Dell Streak all being more widely adopted by business users. The upside is that many of these services are very quickly integrated to support each others features so expect to see tight integration between the hosted VOIP proposals and the these new messaging opportunities.

The Ubiquitous Cloud

Finally, the area of high interest in the current market which will come as little surprise is cloud. Cloud is still being hyped by numerous vendors and even some of their partners including ourselves. The technology is certainly being used and deployed more widely but a debate about the preference for private rather than public clouds exists. One could argue that there is a high degree of crossover between all three of these fields of technology and where they intersect most greatly is what we call the cloud.

Some users are perhaps a bit cynical about the cloud viewing it as another name for a virtualised data centre but overall the trend towards some sort of hosted solution seems to be gathering pace. The sector which seems to have embraced the cloud most fully is the financial services sector when some large banks made the move to the hosted environment in Q4 of 2010. For the rest of the potential user base however there are still concerns that will have to be overcome. Within enterprise organisations, concerns over the security and uptime of public cloud-based solutions remain, as does nervousness over running mission-critical applications in these environments.

Another issue is the ongoing debate surrounding the use of the word ‘cloud’. It has too many definitions and we have actually found that many of our customers are reacting negatively to the word when it’s used.

The rise of the SME sector as a user of virtualisation, cloud and UC is yet another milestone in the mainstream adoption of these technologies and we at Rustyice Solutions are sure that this trend will only increase.

Egnatia Motorway uses Axis 213 PTZ network cameras to keep all eyes on the road

Greece’s Egnatia Motorway is a monumental road construction project linking Europe and Asia. Developers have turned to Axis network cameras as a way to provide wireless traffic surveillance to the motorway’s most difficult route, a 9 km stretch of varied terrain that runs from the Metsovo interchange to the Peristeri interchange. The Motorway has installed 14 Axis 213 PTZ network cameras to watch traffic and provide video security along this section, which includes two interchanges, six tunnels, and two bridges.

The Axis 213 PTZ cameras offer a number of features required for this challenging surveillance application. They operate under all light conditions, provide pan, tilt, and zoom functionality, and include vandal-proof and weather-resistant housing. They can also be programmed to send automated alerts when specific traffic problems arise.

Using Axis Camera Station video management software, the system provides remote video monitoring, event management, and recording. All cameras feed to a designated control center, where the motorway staff has constant access to the video images, and is alerted to any unusual activity and traffic developments on the road. The video footage can also be access remotely by authorized personnel. Because of the continuous coverage the surveillance system provides, staff members are able to quickly respond to traffic events as they occur.

Read more at Axis.com…