Uncommon Wisdom

Jan 6 2011   2:45PM GMT

Cisco’s Videoscape: A good video-service-layer move, with caveats

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Cisco took what could be a giant step for itself at CES with its new video ecosystem. Cisco’s Videoscape combines in-home tools and software to centralize the mediation and management of video relationships, creating what’s probably the most architected video service layer available to network operators today. Since Cisco was already doing well in the early content monetization project trials, Videoscape could be a real winner for the company.

But despite the positives, Videoscape still has some issues in my view. Paramount is that Cisco is developing a content strategy in the absence of an overall service-layer strategy, or at least is creating the latter by simply assembling pieces instead of creating an architecture. Most of the elements in the Videoscape Conductor (the back-end) could easily be helpful in other missions, but it’s not clear how they’d be applied outside the video context. There’s also a strong push for video sharing and uploading, which generates traffic for operators and has essentially no potential for monetization. That makes the product a bit of a risk in itself, but it also shows that Cisco may pursue its own aspirations (which are to generate so much consumer video traffic that operators are essentially forced to buy tons of Big Iron to carry it) more than support the operators’ business cases.

Overall though, Videoscape is a strong achievement for Cisco because it plays to the company’s strength—breadth in the video market. The net effect of deployment could be a kind of “TV Everywhere,” and with Comcast pushing that very thing already, the timing couldn’t be better.

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