Funny cat videos belong in the cloud, not on your network

The rise of YouTube and other video services is causing huge bandwidth strains in the enterprise, but a recent Cisco report suggests a solution is emerging

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Does this sound familiar? You’re seeing more video — a lot more video — being consumed in your workplace. And that legacy network just wasn’t designed for today’s YouTube generation.

According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index, by 2015 the world will see 3 trillion Internet videos per month (that’s 1 million per second), and video through mobile networks will reach 3,000 petabytes per month.

Video, clearly, offers benefits in the workplace, such as driving employee engagement. But, let’s face it, it can also be a real pain for IT managers. Video puts a huge bandwidth strain on the network — and IT managers are expected to just make it work.

If you’re in IT, you already know the WAN was never intended to handle this level of video traffic. Too much video leads to latency, and latency leads to frustration for everyone involved.

How often have you tried to watch the latest “cat doing something funny” video, only to give up when it keeps freezing? In the workplace, latency can make enterprise video initiatives far less effective, such as when users are trying to watch a training video or engage in video collaboration.

Users are also creating their own video content, which should be accessible and searchable.

Another issue is bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, which adds a whole new level of complexity to the issue. Now there’s an array of mobile devices creating and consuming video on the legacy network and most likely the wireless network as well.

One option for dealing with the rise of video is moving it to the cloud, from IP video delivery, to storage, to streaming services. Not only would this address the bandwidth issue, but it would also deal with the fact users want to view video anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Indeed, research firm Gartner predicts video as a service in the enterprise will grow by 40 per cent by 2015.

Cisco, for its part, expects video to be one of the biggest network challenges over the next couple of years, and delivering video over the cloud could help solve some of these challenges.

Basically, this could help reduce stress on the network, without the need to add more bandwidth. Sounds pretty good, right? We all know the other benefits of the cloud: no upfront infrastructure costs, low monthly leasing fees and reduced strain on the IT department.

There is an argument to be made, however, that moving video to the cloud might sacrifice the efficiencies of the WAN, so some industry pundits are suggesting more of a hybrid approach.

Like most technology solutions, there is no one-size-fits-all. Each organization will have to look at their policies around video, their current infrastructure and their future requirements. But cloud is an option to consider if things are starting to get a bit out of control with video.

The key to making it work comes down to the user experience — it has to be seamless, whether video is streaming across the WAN or in the cloud. Your users don’t care how the video is getting to them, they just want watch.

Learn more about how you can integrate video with other forms of unified communications in Allstream’s on-demand Webinar, ‘Introducing Hosted Collaboration Solution.’

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