Cisco adds tools to scale wide-area video

The ECDS platform is designed to make live and on-demand enterprise video more efficient

Cisco Systems continued to build its enterprise video infrastructure on Thursday with the ECDS (Enterprise Content Delivery System), a software-hardware platform to ease video management and make distribution of video to remote locations more efficient.

ECDS is part of Cisco's overall Medianet architecture, designed to automate many aspects of producing and delivering video for employees, partners and customers. The company has been fleshing out this vision since 2006 with an eye to supporting new work styles and the growing network demands that come with them.

The purpose of ECDS is to help enterprises distribute both live and on-demand video to large numbers of sites and users. It can be used to support dozens or thousands of users, in thousands of locations, according to Cisco. For example, the system can send live video to a branch office in one stream and then split it at that location into a single stream for each of 10 users there. This removes the need to send 10 streams across an expensive WAN (wide-area network) link, Cisco said.

ECDS consists of software that can be run on one of two new appliances, the Media Delivery Engine 3100 and 1100, or on a virtual blade on a Cisco WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) platform. The MDE 3100 can scale up to 5,000 concurrent users, the MDE 1100 to 500 users, and the MDE 50WVB to 200 users.

Part of the purpose of ECDS is to minimize the impact of video on an enterprise's network, to tamp down the cost of expanding video use across an organization. It incorporates Cisco's WAAS application acceleration software and provides caching capability. For example, companies can distribute pre-recorded video during off-peak hours if it doesn't have to be viewed immediately, Cisco said. ECDS can also provide on-demand caching, which sets aside a local copy of a video the first time it's viewed at a location, to prevent it having to be downloaded over the WAN on subsequent viewings.

In addition to handling many different video applications from Cisco and other companies, the platform works with multiple formats, including H.264, Flash and Windows Media. It also can be used in distributing video to third-party clients, including tablets and mobile devices.

Many enterprises have several forms of video on disparate systems that they want to consolidate, according to Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing. For example, they may have an archive of training videos, a videoconferencing system for executives and another set of video offerings for customers. Those may all run on separate systems from different vendors, he said. Cisco's enterprise video portfolio, the broadest of any vendor, appeals to some of those organizations, Dewing said.

What Cisco still doesn't have is sophisticated video editing capability and an easy-to-use management interface, Dewing said. Editing capability integrated into the network was part of Cisco's original vision for Medianet, but what it has provided so far is fairly simple, he said. Given the narrowing of Cisco's focus to core products, which has already led to the demise of the Flip camcorder, the company may step back from trying to compete in a field already full of editing tools, Dewing said. User interfaces are a longtime issue for Cisco, he added. "They're getting there, but they're still no Apple," Dewing said.

ECDS is available immediately, priced starting at US$4,395 for a virtual WAAS blade and $10,595 for an MDE appliance.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetNetworkingvideoCisco SystemsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?