In an earlier article (read Part 1 of this series), posted on this blog a few weeks ago, we’ve talked about the benefits that Cloud VC is bringing to organisations, and the challenges that this creates for CXOs and CIOs who are planning their infrastructure for video collaboration.
The decision on which way to go – own VC network, cloud, or otherwise – depends to a great extent on the legacy systems that an organisation already has in place, and where they currently are on their ROI lifecycle.
But how does one make the right decision? Do India’s high bandwidth costs (or risks of bandwidth disruption) affect the decisions of an organisation trying to build a reliable, scalable, affordable, and yet high-quality network for video collaboration?
Our video collaboration team suggests some guidelines to help make it simpler for organisations in the process of evaluating video collaboration:
1) If your organisation is starting with video from scratch
(i.e. Either haven’t used video collaboration before, or have been using web-conferencing or consumer soft VC tools like Skype)
In this scenario, we recommend that you start by making the cloud your foundation for video collaboration infrastructure. This allows your business to quickly expand the connectivity options (especially with multi-location calls) available to conferences in large conference and meeting rooms. However, it also allows individuals to use tools similar to what they are familiar with (that is, Skype or Lync) on their laptops and mobile devices.
In the smaller meeting rooms or huddle rooms, you can incorporate technology that allows Skype/Lync to be used more effectively with multiple participants (see here). The key boardrooms and conference rooms will have hardware-based video collaboration systems for higher-quality and high-reliability video interactions for larger groups. Your entire “video collaboration network” can be run and managed entirely off the Cloud VC backbone. The hardware VC rooms will also continue to allow point-to-point calls from the rooms when necessary.
2) If you’re currently operating with some new end-point based VC rooms
(i.e. It may be that you have a more recent deployment, which consists of few larger rooms using hardware VC systems providing access to a limited number of users)
Since your video conferencing solutions are reasonably new, they are likely to be HD resolution cameras and codecs, which will not need to be upgraded, even as you expand video collaboration access in your organisation. You should look to add some new rooms (especially smaller rooms) quickly, by shifting to a Cloud VC solution for simpler connectivity and call bridging. This will allow meetings of smaller groups without blocking the larger rooms. Key mobile users can be given access via a Soft-VC solution, which connects to the cloud and makes communication simple and the management of the network more cost-effective.
In case your organisation is still using ISDN and is unable to shift completely to a network-based solution at some remote locations, endpoint-to-endpoint may continue to be important.
3) If your organisation has an older standard definition, MCU based network
(i.e. You have a few larger rooms that are using standard definition hardware VC systems at multiple locations, but still running standard resolution and not HD quality video)
In this scenario, the best solution is to go with a comprehensive upgrade of your entire system. All the existing endpoints will need to be upgraded to FullHD video collaboration – which means new cameras, codecs, and possibly the displays too.
Larger rooms (boardroom, executive meeting rooms and video conferencing rooms) can be equipped to FullHD video hardware, which allows high-quality video interactions for larger groups. Your network and bridging system will need to shift too, from an MCU bridge with limited ports, to a Cloud VC system, which supports higher resolution and expansion capability for the future. Smaller meeting rooms or huddle rooms will need basic audio networking systems to allow multiple participants (see here) to use video collaboration.
Hence one can see that Cloud VC provides benefits for almost any type of organisation, and you can use it to design your own cloud-hybrid infrastructure. The form that this takes will depend on the age and state of legacy systems and the rationale behind the current video network that exists in your organisation.
The Cloud VC solution is an excellent option overall, and can considerably improve the quality of video collaboration in smaller rooms and for mobile users. It replaces the functionality that MCUs traditionally provided, and considerably reduces the capex for setting up a dedicated network with many locations.
However in situations where a high-performance MCU is already in place or where security or privacy compliance is necessary, the move to the cloud can be made more slowly. An MCU or point-to-point calling capability can also provide redundancy in case of some mission-critical applications or for the eventuality of network problems.
We’ll share more opinions on this topic in the next few weeks…
(Image Courtesy: Lifesize)