Cisco ACE gives video blogging a boost

Cisco Catalyst, ACE help launch popular video-blog viewers into the tens of millions.

Welcome to the latest Internet phenomenon causing network bandwidth to burst at the seams. Whatever you call it

-- video blogging, vanity publishing, media sharing, or simply user-generated content -- the ability to watch a snippet of a stranger's life, whether real or scripted, is hot, hot, hot, and it's causing enterprises to rethink how they will meet the demands of the many nosy Internet viewers.

Vanity publishing is enough of a reality that video Web site StupidVideos.com, a division of PureVideo Networks Inc., did a major overhaul of its hodgepodge network to meet viewer demands. In doing so, Cisco claims that PureVideo became one of the first companies to adopt the Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches armed with Application Control Engine (ACE).

PureVideo was founded in 2004 as an early pioneer of the user-generated video revolution. The founders saw the proliferation of an audience built around capturing and viewing video online and quickly learned that the sites that held the most value were ones that provided good, consistent content and a place to interact. The founders bought two edgy, fun and popular sites that created the beginnings of PureVideo: StupidVideos.com, which focuses on entertainment, and GrindTV.com, which covers sports.

As a grass-roots Internet startup, the company began with the bare minimum technology.

"Our previous network had no firewall, just bare bones, enough to get by. No IDS [intrusion detection system], no central management of the network. All we had were two Foundry load balancers and one Cisco 3560 switch, which was just there to accommodate more ports," said Greg Morrow, president and COO of PureVideo Networks. "It was the minimal necessary equipment to run our site. It served its function for a while, but once our traffic got high enough, it was limiting us from pushing ahead with new features and ideas."

Today, PureVideo is an advertising-supported business that needs to grow with its rising popularity in order to be more successful. The goal is to boost its existing capable viewer base from between five and seven million up to 30 to 40 million viewers.

The company has deployed an ACE module, in combination with the Cisco Catalyst 6500 switch, to achieve security, application acceleration, and network management capabilities in a single solution. The Cisco solution offers enough scalability to support PureVideo's aggressive business goals this year and beyond, including the addition of a new video vertical, PureVideo.com, the Web's first meta video search engine.

Cisco ACE offers integrated load balancing, security, and management functionality to meet the high demands of PureVideo's young, tech-savvy audience.

"If you need to upgrade something, like a faster set of core switches or firewall, since we went with Cisco's redundant solution, when we do those things, ACE is nice because we can fail over modules and not the entire system," Morrow said. "Just upgrade the firewall and fail back to it. I don't need to take the entire system and offload it to the other chassis."

The Catalyst 6500 and ACE module provide companies such as PureVideo Networks with control over the entire IT infrastructure. Because of its modularity, this capability also lets PureVideo react more quickly to viewers' traffic and bandwidth needs. According to PureVideo, the solution has been found to be less expensive than other options, and it lowers operational costs because of the decreased demand on IT managers to operate separate appliances and their accompanying overlay network.

The Catalyst 6500 ACE module simplifies application infrastructure by combining the functionality of multiple application delivery appliances into a single module, including server load balancing and offload, Secure Socket Layer, security, and application optimization capabilities. The integration of ACE with Catalyst 6500 leverages the core network because the network virtualization capabilities enable PureVideo Networks to increase application performance across the company's wide area network.

PureVideo is already realizing a network that is handling a traffic increase three to five times what it was. Morrow thinks it can handle up to 10 times the increase.

The company is also leveraging voice over IP (VoIP), which is a no-brainer, according to Morrow. Because they were essentially starting from scratch, it made sense to go with cutting-edge technology. However, most of the VoIP action is currently limited to what Morrow describes as "quasi-unified messaging" because it simply facilitates basic voicemail forwarding to email and integrated faxing.

"At this point, it's just voice. Later we will look into VoIP applications," Morrow said. "We deployed VoIP [with] the intent of having future applications built on top, coupled with cost-saving purposes."

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