Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 4 2011   1:15PM GMT

Videoscape shakeup: Cisco consolidates video into single unit

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Cisco is consolidating its video activities into a single unit and its Videoscape head is leaving. The decision seems an odd one to me if you look at things from a market perspective. Videoscape was arguably the most complete suite of content delivery elements available from anyone, but the sheer scope of the product seemed to confound the sales process and especially customers. But is a single video unit the best way to promote video delivery?

Operators have all been eager to monetize video, but while it’s been easy to set objectives for these projects and at least possible to outline functional requirements, operators are still having a tough time putting all the functional blocks inside products they can buy or software they can build or contract. In theory, Videoscape could have been the mechanism to support that effort, since it has all of the blocks. For example, Videoscape even includes a service bus architecture that would serve admirably as the technical foundation for a service layer aimed at content monetization. The problem is that it was never presented effectively. We’ve seen Cisco presentations that either raised issues and never addressed them or that praised features without putting them in a value context.

Creating a single end-to-end vision of video, one that includes both streaming/channelized and collaborative, is in one way interesting and potentially highly useful and in another way likely to further dilute messaging. Yes, video monetization has to embrace any delivery model. Yes, streaming and collaborative video have much in common in terms of service-layer elements (they fall out of a single approach in our current application-note monetization example). But if I was never able to make Videoscape sing as a solution, how does making the orchestra bigger really help?

Maybe it helps by creating a unit that could be sold or spun out.  One possibility here is that Cisco is preparing to divest itself of the whole video area, and of course having the whole video area under one organizational roof would make that easier. Furthermore, a video-centric subdivision might be attractive to a bunch of players, from Apple to Microsoft to Google to even IBM and Oracle.  More buyers, more bidders, more shareholder value.

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