[Last month RADVISION participated in the Wainhouse Research Collaboration Futures Summit in Berlin. Apart from breaking our big news about SVC at the summit, RADVISION shared with the audience our view on the boundaries of video conferencing, and how we can overcome them through future technologies and solutions. Moshe Machline, our VP of Corporate Marketing, gave such a wonderful presentation, I just had to bring him on for a guest post, to share his ideas with you]
Video conferencing was designed more than a decade ago, primarily for conference rooms. The idea was to connect these dedicated rooms one to another, based on ISDN connectivity (which was the connection-of-choice back then). Today’s reality, surprisingly enough, is not very different than the way it started out, with most organizations using very limited dialing plans, pre-scheduled meetings in most cases, and homogeneous, limited-scale, limited-quality deployments.
A few significant barriers have been keeping video conferencing as a siloed world for much too long. Today, we as an industry are finally throwing a serious punch in order to break down the walls around us. We are using a powerful hammer, built from combining newer and older technologies, which – I feel – can finally break the boundaries and expand the adoption of video conferencing and the integration of it into our everyday business world.
The first and most considerable barrier is probably the physical one. Conference users do not want to limit themselves to conferencing rooms. They want to connect using desktops, mobile handsets, PDAs, you name it – just like they do with their other communication tools.
Additional infrastructural components, such as 3G gateways, are already shattering this barrier. The addition of new desktop clients, capable of using new technologies such as SVC, is another big break-through in creating a location agnostic world.
As many organizations often rely on public internet as a means to connect different physical location to one another, and as telework becomes more popular, network quality becomes a real barrier for the successful deployment and use of video conferencing.
New technologies, some of which were already introduced publicly, can help clients and servers optimize bandwidth usage and offer better error resilience, thus eliminating the need for a guaranteed QoS on networks used.
A couple of months ago, John Bartlet from NoJitter wrote a piece on Business-to-Business Telepresence, or should I say he wrote the piece on the Business-can’t-connect-to-any-Business issue. Even those organizations who successfully deployvideo conferencing and are using it for their day-by-day work struggle with connecting others outside of the organization – customers, partners, suppliers – to the company network. The transition from ISDN to IP connectivity has only enhanced this barrier. And while this, as many claim, is a great business driver for service providers, inter-organization communication is hard to find.
The introduction of web-based video conferencing agents, such as SCOPIA Desktop, does not require pre-installed components, and so, effective firewall traversal solutions are incorporated into it. This is a key in a successful shift towards achieving B2B connection. I am proud to say that RADVISION is already practicing what it preaches by using video conferencing for communicating with in our own organization, and with our partners and suppliers..
UC Platforms Connectivity
As already explained in this blog, video conferencing is just one piece of the unified communication puzzle. While we believe that video conferencing should be the way to deploy UC within an organization, when other collaborative solutions are deployed – with presence, instant messaging, and voice – there is a growing need to connect video conferencing to these systems, allowing every employee to benefit from this synergy.
Video conferencing clients that are integrated into a UC system as a plug-in, help this become a reality. Infrastructure designed to connect UC systems with traditional video conferencing systems (Gateways, MCUs) are already present. All of these components make video conferencing a success.
Port Price and Scalability
This barrier is possibly the most important issue for decision makers, but is ignored most of the time. For video conferencing to catch, price port should be appropriate. A telepresence room “port” should not cost as much as a conferencing room system “port”, and a desktop client “port” should not cost as much as a room system “port” . There should be a correlation between the price of the endpoint and the price of the port.
The introduction of next-generation architectural hardware, innovative software, infrastructure products, and the combination of those, can lead to a scalable, affordable solution, which can support the vision of “a video port per employee”.
Finally, in today’s world video conferencing is mostly limited to real-time use. This means that a meetings’ content are not available after the meeting has ended. And if it is available, there is no real ability to easily retrieve and access the meetings information.
Introduction of new archiving and retrieval solutions, with indexing technologies and smart playback, can help mine the valuable information in video conferences into gold.
RADVISION’s view of a truly connected world
In RADVISION’s “holistic” view, the conferencing server connects telepresence rooms, executive and room systems, legacy systems, desktop clients using scalable video coding, and UC clients so that all of us will be able to enjoy meeting without any walls.
RADVISION has developed, and is currently developing, various technologies to in order make this vision a reality. Powerful media processing platforms, scalable video coding techniques, web-based desktop client, virtual MCU concepts, and SW/HW architecture along with RADVISION’s other technologies, enables them to deliver the visual experience.