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CES 2014: Cisco Expands Videoscape, Focuses on Flexibility

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Cisco’s Videoscape platform was created to help service providers stand up to online competition and quickly create online offerings of their own, and now those providers can create offerings faster than ever. At International CES, Cisco announced an expansion of the Videoscape platform that makes it more flexible and customizable.

While Videoscape had always been a combination of dedicated hardware and software, that’s no longer true. With Videoscape Cloud Software, customers can run Videoscape in public and private clouds. It includes the same Videoscape software and APIs, and focuses on modularity and openness. The idea is to let customers create new offering more quickly, turning projects around in weeks instead of months or years.

“This is what’s going to separate the winners from the losers in our business: getting there first,” said Joe Cozzolino, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager for service provider video infrastructure. OTT providers have been setting the pace for service innovation, he said. Videoscape’s new offerings are intended to help providers catch up.

Cisco’s next offering, Videoscape Cloud Services, lets providers purchase those same tools as a service. Again, Cisco offers the same software and APIs. The idea here is to help smaller companies that don’t have the resources for their own cloud. They can use Videoscape services as needed, without integrating the capabilities into their existing systems. By offering Videoscape this way, Cisco hopes to expand how customers use it.

Cloud Fusion for Videoscape, the third new offering, is a comprehensive solution that combines Videoscape running on dedicated hardware, on an onsite cloud, and as software-as-a-service. Customers can mix and match solutions, or even move freely between them. A smaller company might start with Cisco-hosted tools, then move to its own cloud as it grows.

Finally, Cisco announced Videoscape Open UX Foundation, a solution for home users that shrinks the set-top box and puts it in the cloud. This software platform lets providers create HTML5 applications and deploy them quickly from the cloud. Cisco sees this as a way to get 4K-enabled STBs in the home, while encoding and transcoding are done in the cloud.

After Cozzolino concluded the Videoscape announcements, Cisco vice president and chief technology officer for video software and solutions Nick Thexton took the stage to show some interesting proof of concept work the company is doing for second screen apps. The demo app showed a sliver of the main television’s video at the top of the tablet screen. Called a bridge, this image doesn’t replace the main TV image, but creates a link to it that keeps the tablet user engaged. It’s surprisingly effective. The rest of the app can be used to offer tactile controls for the main TV (letting the viewer pause or rewind) or to let the viewer peek behind the bridge image, seeing what’s playing on other channels. If the tablet user finds an interesting item, they can move it to the main TV screen for everyone to see. They can also enlarge the bridge image for full screen video. Providers can create an instant “heat map” for a show, making a timeline that shows where in the program the most Twitter activity occurred, then letting viewers jump back to those moments. A t-commerce demo showed buyers browsing a virtual catalog and moving detailed product information to the main screen. Thexton emphasized how quickly his team had created each of these experiments.

The online future isn’t about connections, said Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers, but about bringing connections to life. That future needs to be secure, simple, seamless, and have smarts at every level, he said. In the Cisco press conference, the Cisco team showed an impressive vision for the years ahead.

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