Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Multimedia-Grade Goes To School For A Test

At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to witness then document an exciting demonstration of multimedia-grade prowess I believe is directly applicable to our mission.  The University of Ottawa posed a challenge to a number of vendors (including Apple, Aruba Networks, Blackboard, Distributed Access, Haivision, Turning Technologies) to develop a proof of concept that would validate real-world scaling and viability of dense, multimedia propagation and interactivity. Coordinating the effort for the group was Robert Fenstermacher from Aruba Networks. Robert recently blogged about the demonstration and its success which I've posted here for your review:

Putting the “i” Back in iPad

Most of us are warming to the iPad (and some of us have the tattoo). But it’s starting to become clear that the “i” couldn’t possibly stand for “interactive”. A device that’s so perfectly designed to improve interaction and collaboration in the enterprise is a victim of its own success. As the killer-apps changed from Angry Birds and Sudoku to Medical Informatics and Retail Point of Sale the wireless network wasn’t keeping up. More devices and more multimedia-based apps meant more network congestion. And we’re back to Angry Birds. This didn’t sit right with University of Ottawa, so they set out to prove otherwise
THE GOAL: 100 iPads, 6 Multimedia Apps, 1 Classroom
But this wasn’t the goal for maximum use; this was the baseline goal for scaling up. The University turned to the unique capabilities of Aruba MOVE for improving application performance across the network. They wanted to push some of the latest real-time voice and video apps over Wi-Fi. Six use cases were identified, each with a reference application:
  • Learning Management: Blackboard Mobile Learn. This showed digital course content in which all clients simultaneously accessed course curriculum and viewed on-demand unicast streaming video
  • Video-Based Curriculum: Distribution Access Learning. This showed video distribution in which all clients simultaneously stream educational video content
  • Video Conferencing: Apple Facetime. This demonstrated how knowledge expert could be quickly and easily video conferenced into a class lecture
  • Dynamic Presentation: Apple AirPlay. This demonstrated automatic wireless streaming of multimedia content to an Apple TV, connected to the classroom projector
  • IP Television: HaiVision’s Furnace IP Video System. This demonstrated distribution of live local video content
  • Electronic Testing and Assessment: ResponseWare by Turning Technologies. This showed learning assessment with all clients responding to real-time polling questions

Each of the six multimedia-based applications was simultaneously delivered to all 100 iPads reliably and with high video quality. But U Ottawa wanted more than just a subjective look. So they used Veriwave’s WaveInsight application to verify that all iPads passed a high-definition video Service Level Agreement (SLA). Not only did they observe it working, but the numbers backed it up.
Aruba MOVE did provide some unique advantages for making this all work. It’s designed to support and enhance real-time applications over the air. In this case, a reference Aruba wired and 802.11n wireless IPv6 network was used to provide a reliable multimedia-grade experience for every device in the classroom. A few of the Aruba features that were to thank?
  • Adaptive Radio Management – ARM was used to automatically distribute devices across wireless capacity, even when every device associated simultaneously. There were 24-26 devices connected to each AP without any manual intervention
  • Device Fingerprinting – Device type was used to set bandwidth contracts and to restrict access to Apple TV for sharing content over the projector
  • Application Fingerprinting – Applications were automatically identified in order prioritize Apple FaceTime to reliably conference a subject matter expert into the class
  • IPv6 – IPv6 addressing was used for APs and controller interfaces to show a future-proof network that can handle an onslaught of mobile devices.
In the end, Aruba worked with the University of Ottawa to put the “i” back in iPad, validating a Wi-Fi network that improves performance of “interactive” voice and video applications. Perhaps this is stretching Steve’s intention for the “i”, but it’s hard to argue otherwise when you see 100 iPads simultaneously pushing multimedia-based learning applications in a lecture hall.
To see Robert's blog and a video of the demonstration, follow this link: