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Bringing the MBONE Home: Experiences with Internal Use of Multicast-Based Conferencing Tools

Archibald C.R. Mott
cisco Systems, Inc.


Some authorities feel that increasing amounts of traffic, rising popularity of multicast-based conferencing tools, and increasing availability of multicast routing technology are signals of impending doom for the Internet's Multicast Backbone (MBONE). However, they are also clear signals that there is a very real demand for the services of which they are a result: real-time, multipoint, multimedia interaction between network users. Whether or not the utility of the MBONE itself is drawing to a close, it is a simple step to draw parallels between the demands of users on the Internet and the demands of users on a large corporate network, and to see that the same tools in use on the MBONE can be used to provide an important service in a corporate network environment. This paper will describe the implementation of a widely distributed conferencing system based on IP multicast networking and freely available conferencing tools. It will describe the network topology and routing technology employed, the scope of the system, some challenges encountered in implementing the system, the tools used in the implementation, real examples of the use of the system, future plans for the system and an exploration of some potential pitfalls of the system. The information presented in this paper is based on experiences gained in deploying the system on the Engineering departmental networks at Cisco Systems. Opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Cisco Systems.

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