Q&A with Stephen Epstein of Avistar

By Stephen Epstein (Profile)
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Wednesday, April 25th 2012
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VSM: What are the deployment benefits of videoconferencing in the cloud?

SE: A decade ago, videoconferencing could be found primarily in expensive corporate boardrooms. These days, videoconferencing can be found in cloud-based computing environments. The benefits of videoconferencing include: increasing productivity, reducing costs and the hassles of traveling while enhancing relationships among employees, customers and partners.

Cloud-based videoconferencing brings additional benefits, including:

  • Rapid deployment.
  • Lower capital costs.
  • Easier maintenance (since that’s often handled by cloud providers).
  • Ability to handle thousands of diverse endpoints, including PCs, room systems (including legacy systems) and mobile devices.

An important benefit of cloud-based videoconferencing is scalability. One-on-one video chats via free services are fine when talking with family members or friends, but the quality of the experience can be less than impressive. What’s worse is when you need to connect to multiple people on a single call. With some solutions, the number of endpoints on a call is limited by the capacity of the Multipoint Control Unit (MCU), which can often be expensive, using inflexible hardware appliances. All-software MCUs eliminate this issue.

VSM: What does it take to have videoconferencing be cloud-ready?

SE: The possibilities of having videoconferencing in the cloud are seemingly endless. It’s an attractive choice for companies that haven’t invested in desktop videoconferencing and want to leverage the cost and time savings that are inherent in the cloud. It is also attractive to companies that have tested the water with videoconferencing and now want to take it to the next level. Paying attention to a few strategic areas can spell success for your cloud videoconferencing experience.

To start with, you want to think about the basics. You’ll want to make sure your videoconferencing is running on virtual servers -- mostly because scaling up, then, is simply a matter of adding more instances. You will also want to think about bandwidth solutions, to be sure your networks can handle the back and forth video traffic.  You’ll also want to consider if it can handle thousands of diverse endpoints, including PCs, room systems, and the mobile apps people use today. The trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) is not going away any time soon.

You’ll also want to consider how you want to deploy in the cloud. Enterprise IT groups can choose to establish their own cloud-based HD videoconferencing, or look to a cloud-based solutions provider. In either case, you’ll want a videoconferencing solution that allows fast deployment and the ability to scale up smoothly. Today organizations can provide HD multiparty services to large user/customer bases at a fraction of what alternatives cost, and users have access from their preferred devices: tablets, PCs, smart phones, and room systems.