Monday, March 30, 2009

It's the Network

This week I went live with 1080p life size Teleconferencing in my home using Cisco Telepresence. I'll write an entire blog devoted to my experiences with it next weekend when I attend HIMSS virtually on April 5 from Boston.

To prepare for the installation of Telepresence, I wanted my home network to be as robust as possible, so I chatted with Verizon about upgrading my home FIOS connection to 20 megabits up/20 megabits down.

In the past I wrote about some of the challenges I had with my initial FIOS installation. I'm happy to report that Verizon has worked hard to improve their processes and now FIOS upgrades and support are well coordinated.

My experience with the upgrade felt like the "It's the Network" ads. I had a team calling me, the guy with glasses showing up at the door, and followup calls. The end result was a perfect 20/20 connection without interruption of my service.

The Cisco folks connected a Cisco 800 series router to my FIOS connection to ensure Quality of Service for the Telepresence device and to automatically create a VPN tunnel to the Cisco Telepresence Exchange.

As of today, my home telecommunications infrastructure is:

A Verizon Fiber connection from the street through a conduit to a home-based main distribution frame (MDF), in my basement, supported by a backup power supply.

A Cat 6 cable connects the Verizon infrastructure to the Cisco 800 series router which is connected to the Telepresence unit.

The Cisco 800 series is then connected to a Verizon provided router (Action-Tec) which connects to my network printer, an iMac 20, and my Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n wireless router.

My Airport Extreme provides 90 megabits/second wireless connectivity throughout my home and connects to my two Terabyte home storage cloud (a Western Digital MyBook Studio RAID 1 backup device)

Thus, in my basement I now have a communication infrastructure which is as good as many commercial sites - a 20 megabit connection with backup power, video teleconferencing, network printing, a cloud of network storage and 802.11n high speed wireless networking with WPA security.

We tested the jitter and latency of my home network on the Cisco Telepresence worldwide network. It was remarkably low, ensuring extremely high quality Telepresence performance. We connected to Telepresence engineers in North Carolina, California and Texas. The experience of home Telepresence matched that of every high end teleconference I've ever done - life sized 1080p with no pixelation and perfect sound quality.

In an era when we're all reducing our travel budgets and limiting our time away for the office, Telepresence is as good as being there.

For folks I've met before and already established a working relationship with, I cannot think of a reason to fly to a meeting when I have Telepresence.

Now, I'll have to work on my lecture schedule. Hopefully, the culture which demands a physical speaker at the podium will accept a virtual podium when it means I can lecture more frequently from my basement instead 24 hours of travel through Logan Airport.


Raj said...

For someone who struggles to find a decent 256kbs connection to the net, 20MBPS looks like heaven!! Do keep writing about your experience with Telepresence.

Been reading your blog for a long time now, first comment out here!


Unknown said...

Wow - Very nice home setup. Overall, are you a happy FIOS customer?

Schratboy said...

I heard about a HC facility that implemented an OC-3 because the local ISP gave them "A great deal!"

Mind you, they didn't have a specific need for more bandwidth. It was an investment for the future. What was the result?

Now, goofing-off has risen exponentially. Streaming media is a breeze. More bandwidth means more turf, so to speak, to defend.

I'd ask you, if more bandwidth is better, can you even define what % of the bandwidth all your legitimate business applications consume? Plus, can you define what % is consumed by "acceptable entertainment" and abuses?

Coming from a networking gear manf I drank from the "need for speed and feed" koolaide machine. In the real world however, more bandwidth just usually equates to "more cost, more administration, more complexity and more opportunity for lost productivity."