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  1. 1. Cisco Education CDN Eco-Partner Programme Caching and Content Delivery Networking – Education Content Provider, Portal, VLE & MLE Programme Caching and Content Delivering is the key foundation technology that will enable Content Providers to deliver exciting, interactive and media rich content to education. Providers of Web Portals, Virtual Learning Environments and Managed Learning Environments can take advantage of the close integration between a Content Delivery Network and their product to deliver a far more advanced and efficient solution. Introduction This document should be read in conjunction with “Caching and Content Delivery Networking – Delivering Content to the Learning” which describes Cisco’s Content Delivery Networking (CDN) solution for education. The purpose of this document is to describe Cisco’s programme for providers of Education Content, Software, Web Portals, VLEs and MLEs. The program is designed as a partnership with Cisco to add value to your solution and provide education customers with a scalable, high performance and high availability system for the delivery of advanced curriculum content, communication services and software. Cisco believe that everyone can be valuable creators of content and there will be a rich mix of content from commercial providers, broadcasters, government and education. Cisco also recognises that many organisations will provide a mix of content, software, portal, VLE and MLE services. Below we highlight the benefits of a CDN solution to the different provider categories: Content Providers A Cisco CDN provides a facility for securely distributing and accelerating the delivery of content. Advanced services are provided to control who has access to your content – down to individual user level, how long they have access (e.g. for subscription services), efficiently provide incremental updates, track how they are using the content. The solution supports virtually all types of content including text, graphics, animation, video files, video streaming, and collaboration tools. Content Transformation services allow content providers make their content accessible from a wide range of devices (PC, PDA, Mobile phone, etc.) without having to re-purpose and parallel develop and support content. Software Providers A Cisco CDN enables the secure distribution of software and software updates to customers with together with advanced tracking and authentication services. Web Portal, VLE and MLE Providers Cisco’s standards based Application Programming Interface (API) enables tight integration between Web portals, VLEs and MLEs and a Cisco CDN. This integration allows advanced services to be offered with a minimum of management overhead. For example a teacher could create a lesson plan within a MLE, the MLE can then instruct the CDN to pre-distribute the curriculum within the lesson plan to ensure the teacher and pupils can experience media rich content with high performance and availability, while most efficient use is made of network resources. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 1 of 12
  2. 2. Content Transformation services allow Web portal, VLE and MLE providers to offer access to their systems for non-PC users without having to rewrite their interface. The Programme Cisco has specifically enhanced the CDN solution to meet the needs of the education market, the UK education team had significant input into the most recent enhancements to meet UK curriculum online requirements. Cisco has created a program to work with Content, software , web portal, VLE and MLE providers. The elements of the programme are: Programme Element Description Consultancy Consultancy on the overall integration between the partner and Cisco’s solution Qualification Joint testing and integration of between the partner and Cisco’s solution in Cisco’s UK qualification lab Training Initial training on the Cisco CDN solution to enable any integration work. Further detailed training courses are also available Network Optimisation Optimising other elements of the partner’s solution to operate most effectively over IP networks. For example this could include identifying and prioritising VLE control traffic between client and the central VLE to ensure a highly responsive overall solution. Network optimisation would include working with the RBC or LEA and their service provider MOU Memorandum of Understanding between the partner and Cisco to document the agreed areas of cooperation Publicity Jointly agreed publicity on the partnership and integrated solution. This would cover a range of activities including demonstrating the solution to customers in the Cisco qualification / demonstration labs, press activity, etc. Worldwide AVVID Partner Cisco has a worldwide AVVID partner program. This would be the next step up in the program for partners Program who wish to formalise the relationship further, particularly those with worldwide market presence In addition Cisco has gained many years experience of not only developing networking and CDN products but also as a online curriculum content provider with the Cisco Networking Academy Programme (CNAP). CNAP is believed to be the world’s largest eLearning program, with ~300,000 students currently enrolled, 100’s of hours of curriculum being delivered in over 10,000 education institutions in 11 languages and 140 countries. The assessment system alone conducts over 25,000 online tests per day. Cisco has created the Global Learning Network (GLN) to support CNAP. This includes integrated Content Distribution, portal, assessment and managed learning environment. This gives Cisco unique, highly valuable, best practice experience to share with content providers and organisations who provide web portals, VLEs and MLEs. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 2 of 12
  3. 3. Solution Elements The principal elements of the solution are: Solution Component Description Content Engine (CE) A Cisco appliance that stores content that has either been distributed to it under the control of the Content Distribution Manager or automatically cached due to previous access Various CEs are available to suite needs from school to LEA to RBC. All run the same software and just vary in performance and storage capacity Cisco’s appliance approach ensures the solution is highly secure, protecting content rights, with high performance, scalability and availability Content Distribution Manager A Cisco appliance that manages a whole network of 1000’s of Content Engines via an easy to use Web (CDM) interface or Application Programming Interface (API). The CDM manages the system as a whole as well as providing distribution management services to content providers Content Channel Content Channels are analogous to TV Channels. Each content providers has one or more unique channels. The Content Engines in individual institutions can be subscribed to channels, determining where a provider’s content is distributed Manifest List Created and owned by the content provider, the XML standards based manifest list specifies what content is to be distributed. A manifest list in its most simple form is just a list of URLs (web or FTP) to fetch. However the sophisticated XML content distribution rules based language allows the content provider to implement advanced content distribution, security and digital rights management capabilities to suite their needs Application Programming The API allows a direct interface to be built between the Cisco CDN and the content provider’s system or Interface (API) the Web portal, VLE or MLE. The API is two way enabling both control and statistics / status gathering Content Switch A standalone switch or module for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 switch that is used in data centres to provide load balancing and resiliency for multiple servers IP/TV Server An optional Cisco appliance with video encoding capability that delivers TV or DVD quality live video streaming with audience interaction (question manager) from virtually any video source. IP/TV enables large scale events such as training, remote teaching and conferences Content Transformation Engine An optional Cisco appliance that can be used by content providers to dynamically transform content (CTE) written for displace on a standard web browser into formats suitable display on a wide range of other devices such a Palm and Pocket PC PDA’s, IP phone XML displaces, mobile phones. The CTE removes the need for content providers to repurpose their content for use on non PC devices © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 3 of 12
  4. 4. Content Channels Content channels are analogous to TV channels. Content providers are given one or more channels on a Cisco CDN by the administrator of the system – typically an RBC or LEA, or the organisation providing them with a managed CDN service. The content provider controls what content is held within a channel and where the channel is distributed. This provides the first level of content security and digital rights management. There are two models for managing content channels: • The content provider manages can manager their channel(s) directly via their account on the Content Distribution Manager (CDM). Management can either be via the CDM’s web interface or the Application Programming Interface (API) • The content provider creates a manifest list(s) that specifies what content can be distributed with digital rights controls. The operators of Cisco CDNs are given authenticated access to the manifest list(s) and the content enabling them to ingest the content and distribute it according to the rules specified in the manifest list(s) Importantly the operator of each CDN maintains high-level control of three key aspects of channel management: • Channel size controls the maximum amount of content within a given channel. This ensures that one content provider cannot accidentally flood the entire system with content, starving storage for other content providers and damaging overall system operation. From a content provider’s point of view the high level of security this gives CDN operators means they will feel confident to delegate channel control to content providers giving them more flexibility to innovate create closer integration • The replication of content through the CDN is controlled by the CDN operator in terms usage of network resource, such as time of day / day of week when content is replicated, at what rate it is replicated (bandwidth control) and the method or replication that suites their particular network – i.e. multicast where available as the most efficient method or hierarchical replication. This means content providers do not need to adapt their content and its replication for different customers or be responsible for balancing their needs with other content providers • The priority of a channel specifies the order in which content is replicated. Normally channels have the same priority and therefore replicate in parallel based on the bandwidth and time controls. However giving particular channels a higher priority can be useful. For example a channel for virus scan updates and software patches could be given a high priority to ensure security updates are made rapidly available in the event of virus or worm outbreak. Content is imported into each CDN system at one central point called the “Route CE”. This means that there is no impact on the content provider’s systems as the number of schools grow, since only one copy of the content is fetched by the “Route CE”. This has significant cost and scalability benefits compared to alternatives that will fetch a copy of the content for every school, creating massive load on the content provider’s servers and network connection. Content providers can also implement their own CDN system to distribute their content to individual CDN operators (i.e. RBCs or individual LEAs within RBCs who do not have an RBC wide CDN system). While not required this can improve efficiency for the content provider since they only have to push one copy of their content. Note: Channels can also be allocated to software providers to enable them to distribute software, updates, patches, etc. Effectively software is a particular type of content. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 4 of 12
  5. 5. Manifest Lists Manifest lists are typically created and maintained by the content provider. The format of a manifest list is XML (Extensible Markup Language) standards based and it specifies what content is held within a channel, together with digital rights management controls. The manifest list would normally be stored on the content provider’s server. The URL and optional username/password to access the manifest list is added to the channel profile within the CDN. This provides the first level of security since only authorised users can access the manifest list. A Time To Live (TTL) can also be specified to cause the CDN to check the manifest list for changes at required intervals. A manifest list can simply be a URL, or list of URLs, pointing to web or FTP sites: e.g., crawl=4 would tell the CDN to fetch all content from the education section of following all links down to a depth of four levels e.g., username=mmckeown, password=mysecret, crawl=2 would tell the CDN to fetch all files, via FTP, from the downloads section of going down two directory levels and to access the FTP server with the specified username and password account details. However the real power of manifest lists is the sophisticated rules based language that can be used control precisely what content is distributed, when it is available from, to whom and for how long it is available. A manifest list can specify: • Host name (web or FTP server) to fetch the content from, together with any username/password information required. This provides the second level of content security since only a CDN with the necessary content provider account will be able to fetch the content. Since the account information is specified in the manifest list that is hosted centrally by the content provider, it is easy to regularly change the passwords with integrated distribution of the new passwords. For example passwords could be generated automatically and changed daily within the manifest list with a matching manifest list TTL of one day. Each CDN system would get the updated manifest list on a daily basis. However the content provider could close a particular CDN’s manifest list account if there were any security or usage issues with that customer’s CDN. This would securely block any further updates system wide for that CDN • Optional specific file name(s) enables distribution granularity down to individual file level, this can also be used to filter down to individual file level for other functions (e.g. priority) listed below • Optional crawler tags that specify: o The number of HTML link levels down which crawl, or for FTP the number of directory levels to crawl down o Maximum number of objects to be fetched for this crawl job o Maximum size of content to be fetched for this crawl job • Optional filters to fetch only certain types of content, for example particular file types or sizes. This can be used to control storage requirements by only fetching larger “chunks” of content that will have a significant impact on user performance by being distributed. Filters can either be inclusive (e.g. fetch content >500KB file size) or exclusive (e.g. do NOT fetch any files with extension .pl). Filters can include: o MIME type o File extension o Time before (only fetch content modified before a specified time/date) © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 5 of 12
  6. 6. o Time after (only fetch content modified after a specified time/date) o Max and min size (only fetch content large or smaller than a specified size) • Optional content access controls that define the date/time when content can first be accessed and date/time when it can no longer be accessed. This has a number of uses, for example a content provider can grant temporary access for a free trial, or an important announcement can be distributed ahead of time but only made viewable when public, then removed when it is no longer relevant • Optional Time To Live (TTL) specifies how frequently the origin server is checked for freshness. Only content that has changed will be fetched and re-distributed. Therefore the content provider does not need to specifically list updates, they can simply make changes and the CDN will distribute them. The CDN will not fetch and distribute content objects that have not changed, ensuring only incremental changes have to be distributed • Optional Pre-fetch time/date specifies when fetching of content should begin. For example a content provider may know they will be making a new set of content available from 9am on Monday morning and can specify ahead of time to fetch this content when it is available in its final form • Optional priority level enables the content provider to force certain content within their channel to be replicated before other lower priority content. For example a important update or annoucement • Optional origin server authentication can be used to force individual users to authenticate with the origin server before they can view the content. Authentication can be used by content providers for tracking and rights management. They can still centrally control who accesses their content and track the access. For example to enforce licences that are based on maximum simultaneous users or to grant temporary access for a trial. This provides the 3rd level of content security and digital rights management Manifest lists can either be created by the owner of the content or by the administrator of the channel (provided they have the necessary security access to the content). There are four ways of creating the manifest list: • Manual creation using a text editor • Manual creation using 3rd party XML editors • Automated generation using crawler software that examines the content providers origin server and creates the list based on pre- defined rules. Cisco provides open source Perl Script that can be used as is or modified by the content provider • Automated generation from the content providers own content management system or associated web portal, VLE or MLE Cisco published full details of the XML format together with examples. The CDM provides a manifest list checker feature. Cisco can also offer XML manifest list training and consultancy for content providers where highly sophisticated integration is planned. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 6 of 12
  7. 7. Cisco API – Content, Portal, VLE & MLE Integration Cisco’s open standards based (HTTPS and XML) Application Program Interface (API) enables the CDN to be controlled and monitored directly by a Content Provider, Web Portal, Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or Managed Learning Environment (MLE). This enables a highly integrated solution to be built. For example a teacher could construct a lesson plan using the MLE. The MLE would then automatically instruct the CDN to distribute the content in the lesson plan ready for use before the lesson. For content providers this enables automated integration with their content management system. For example if a new school subscribes to the provider’s content that school can be automatically subscribed to the appropriate channel to have the content distributed to them. The API is accessed using the secure HTTPS protocol. What functions the API can control will depend on the account (username/password) privileges. Therefore content providers can only control and monitor functions associated with their channels while a core system such as a web portal could control and monitor CDN wide functions. The major API controls are: • Replication Status API – Allows content providers to check the status of content being replicated in their channels, so they can tell to whom content has been replicated and if replication is not complete what has not be replicated and to whom. For example this could be used to inform users when their content is ready to access at full performance • Channel Provisioning API: o Create new channels and modify status o Assign a manifest list to a channel to specify the contents of the channel o Subscribe and unsubscribe individual or groups of Content Engines to a channel (e.g. subscribe a new school to the content providers channel if they have purchased or are trailing the content) • Content Engine Provisioning API – Enables the automated provisioning and configuration of Content Engines • Streaming Status API – Provides statistics directly from the content streaming engines (Real, WMT and Cisco) In addition to the API interface the Cisco CDN produces extensive logging information that either be viewed via the CDM web interface or can be exported for analysis and integration. The formats supported include enhanced Squid Log, Apache and a customisable format. Plus logs for the different streaming engines Cisco publishes full specification for the API and can provide consultancy and training to assist with its use. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 7 of 12
  8. 8. Streaming Video Streaming video is an increasingly important and powerful medium. It enables content providers to create highly media rich interactive curriculum. It can also enable other applications such as live conferences, specialist distance teaching and annoucements. Video content can be delivered as basic video files that are downloaded and played on a PC. However streaming video offers a number of significant advantages • Digital rights management and tracking enables content provides to control who has access to their content and gather statistics on how it is used. While streamed video files are distributed by the Cisco CDN into each Content Engine for local high performance delivery over the school’s LAN, without impact on the external WAN connection, the video file itself is never copied to the end user’s PC. This provides far tighter digital rights management control compared to video files than can easily be copied and stored outside of the system • High quality video with lower storage requirements. For example the latest encoding technology from Real can delivery full screen, 30 frames per second, DVD quality video and audio at only ~700Kbps • Better interactivity, streamed video can be treated like a CD or DVD, it is can be fast forwarded, rewound and the user can jump directly to any point in the video without having to wait for the whole video to download • Can be synchronised with other content, for example click on a particular piece of content and the accompanying video will jump to the matching point • Enables large scale live events • Integrates with network Quality of Service for reliable delivery Cisco supports all the major streaming media formats: Streaming System Description Cisco Streaming Engine Supports caching and content distribution of any standards based streaming video that uses the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP – RFC2326) and RTP Real Proxy Supports caching of Real encoded content Real Subscriber/Server Supports full content distribution of Real encoded content (Content Engines effectively become Real Video Servers) Microsoft Windows Media Supports caching and content distribution of WMT encoded content Technologies (WMT) Apple QuickTime Supports caching and distribution of QuicktTime encoded content – supported when Real proxy or server is enabled The Cisco Streaming Engine is standard on all Cisco Content Engines. Support for Real, WMT and QuickTime require an optional licence key to activate the built in software – no software update is required to enable. Certified and Supported Cisco’s streaming implementations are fully certified and supported by Real (therefore QuickTime) and Microsoft, rather than reverse engineered implementations. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 8 of 12
  9. 9. Digital Rights Management (DRM) The Cisco solution is fully integrated with Real’s, Microsoft’s and Apple’s DRM solutions. Viewing of streamed video that has been cached or distributed is controlled and tracked by the origin video server. True Video Distribution The Cisco solution distributes the native streaming files for playback by the server element of the appropriate streaming system. Some caching solutions emulate this by pre-fetching the video, this simulates a user viewing a video causing it to be cached. This is far less reliable and efficient that true distribution. Stream Splitting Live or scheduled content and events can be broadcast using streaming video. However viewing such content creates a unique stream per viewer. This can rapidly overload a broadband connection, for example only 6 people could watch a typical 300Kbps broadband stream within a school on a 2Mbps line and even this would starve other users of bandwidth. It also puts major stress on the rest of the network and the origin server limiting the scale of live events. Stream splitting in Cisco Content Engines ensure only one stream is required from the origin video server and only one stream transverses the network. The Content Engine delivers multiple streams to its local users. This can either be separate individual streams or if the local network is multicast enabled it can be a single multicast stream. In a hierarchy of Content Engines (e.g. RBC, LEAs and schools) stream splitting occurs at each level. This also provides many of the scalability benefits of multicast to networks that are not multicast enabled, for example public IP VPN services. © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 9 of 12
  10. 10. Content Security and Digital Rights Management The Cisco CDN solution is specifically designed for distributing content including commercial content that needs strong rights management. This is a significant difference compared to cache bases solutions that are just designed for Internet acceleration. The various security and digital rights management capabilities have been described in the previous sections. In summary a Cisco CDN provides five levels of security: • System wide – content providers control access by CDN systems to their content by assigning each their own unique account that is required to import the manifest list • Content fetch – content providers control access by the CDN to specify what content it can fetch, based on accounts for that content. Usernames/passwords can be centrally managed and distributed via the manifest list. This enables the content provider to automatically and frequently update passwords without the overhead of manually updating this information in each system • Content distribution – content providers control to which sites (and therefore institutions) their content is distributed based on channel subscription • Individual content access – content provides can authenticate and track individual access to their content even once it has been distributed. The Cisco CDN clearly separates the distribution of content to accelerate its performance from the authentication & authorisation to view it. Not only does this give the content provider far more control and tracking of access to content, but also gives them the flexibility to offer other services such as pay per view/use, licences based on concurrent use and trial access • Streaming video – provides additional content protection since streamed video files are never delivered to the end user and therefore cannot be copied or retained, but are copied to the Content Engine within the institute and therefore are not impacted by WAN performance © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 10 of 12
  11. 11. Performance Cisco’s approach is to provide the maximum possible consistent performance to the user. From the user’s perspective they should all see rapid response times, fast data transfers and experience consistency – variation in performance can be as frustrating as poor performance. The user’s experience will be based on the performance of the solution as a whole. Therefore Cisco takes a system wide approach to performance that encompasses not just high performance optimised components but also integration with the rest of the network. This is described in full detail in the “Caching and Content Delivery Networking – Delivering Content to the Learning” document. In summary the key points are: • Quality of Service (QoS) enables important traffic to be given priority in two important areas for content providers: o Content delivered from a Content Engine to the end user can be tagged with the appropriate priority level to ensure that the LAN prioritises it as required. For example streamed video o Control traffic between the end user and a MLE or VLE can be given high priority over the whole network. This ensures that network performance does not impact the user’s experience of using an MLE or VLE • Content Engines are optimised for maximum performance even when delivering a wide variety of content types that would otherwise conflict: o I/O optimised hardware and software architecture o High performance disks with external expansion options such as high speed disk arrays o Multiple file systems optimised for delivery web caching, content distribution and streamed video o Transparent load share Storage Storage on individual Content Engines is scalable to many hundreds of Gigabytes with external storage arrays as well as internal disks. Storage can be extended even further using FibreChannel and network attached (iSCSI) storage. In addition the very tight integration between the Cisco CDN and the Content Providers management system, web portal, VLE and MLE enables storage optimization by dynamically distributing and deleting content objects as required. Cisco Content Engines © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Page 11 of 12
  12. 12. Further Information • UK Education portal: • Cisco Networking Academies • Content Delivery Networking • IP/TV • IP Video conferencing • IP Telephony • Security • Wireless • LAN Switches • UK Education video on demand presentations, including CDN • Education Blueprint for Schools • Contact the UK education team Corporate Headquarters UK Headquarters Americas Headquarters Asia Pacific Headquarters Cisco Systems, Inc. Cisco Systems Ltd Cisco Systems, Inc. Cisco Systems, Inc. 170 West Tasman Drive 9-11 New Square 170 West Tasman Drive Capital Tower San Jose, CA 95134-1706 Bedfont Lakes San Jose, CA 95134-1706 168 Robinson Road USA Feltham USA #22-01 to #29-01 Middlesex, TW14 8HA Singapore 068912 Tel: 408 526-4000 Tel: 408 526-7660 800 553-NETS (6387) TEL: +44 (0)20 8824 1000 Fax: 408 527-0883 Tel: +65 317 7777 Fax: 408 526-4100 Fax: +44 (0)20 8824 1001 Fax: +65 317 7799 Cisco Systems has more than 200 offices in the following countries and regions. Addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers are listed on the Cisco Web site at Argentina • Australia • Austria • Belgium • Brazil • Bulgaria • Canada • Chile • China PRC • Colombia • Costa Rica • Croatia • Czech Republic • Denmark • Dubai, UAE • Finland • France • Germany • Greece • Hong Kong SAR • Hungary • India • Indonesia • Ireland • Israel • Italy • Japan • Korea • Luxembourg • Malaysia • Mexico• The Netherlands • New Zealand • Norway • Peru • Philippines • Poland • Portugal • Puerto Rico • Romania • Russia • Saudi Arabia • Scotland • Singapore • Slovakia • Slovenia • South Africa • Spain • Sweden • Switzerland • Taiwan • Thailand • Turkey Ukraine • United Kingdom • United States • Venezuela • Vietnam • Zimbabwe Copyright © 2003, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. Cisco, Cisco Systems, and the Cisco Systems logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. or certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document or Web site are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. (0206R) © 2003 Cisco Systems, Inc. All right reserved. Important notices, privacy statements, and trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. can be found on Printed in the UK Page 12 of 12