Snubbed by the high price of gas, the mounting concern for the environment and a painful decline in airline perks and travel comforts, it should be no surprise that business executives are looking for alternatives to travel. Videoconferencing represents a cost-effective and convenient option for professionals who no longer want to waste time and money traveling to and from business meetings.
But, if the video experience was unsatisfactory, and if the equipment costs were extremely high, and if the networks were expensive and difficult to rollout, these drivers wouldn’t add up to much in the long term.
The good news is that on all three counts high-definition (HD) video wins.
Still, the question remains: Why is video communications a “strategic service” worthy of IT’s attention and special focus?
1. Videoconferencing is a resource intensive service.
Endpoint devices generally cost thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars, which although inexpensive compared to three year’s worth of business travel, they are expensive compared to alternative real-time service infrastructures such as softphones on PCs and typical telephones.
2. It’s an exclusive capability.
As it stands today, a videoconferencing unit can only connect with another video conferencing unit. Unlike a mobile telephone which can connect with any other mobile phone or any telephone around the world with a total network domain of approximately 4 billion possibilities, the videoconferencing unit can at most, connect with a few million units in service. But, many of these units will only be addressable by ISDN and many others will be inaccessible behind corporate firewalls. Furthermore, large enterprises have tended to operate their corporate video environment on a separate IP-based MPLS network distinct from the converged data and voice traffic of the enterprise. This is due to the long session duration and high bandwidth demands of videoconferencing can put the reliability and flow of fewer applications at risk for packet discard or instantaneous delay.
3. The value of videoconferencing comes from seeing each other.
Users clearly appreciate the ability to see one another. Brockmann & Company’s research shows that users are willing to pay a premium to substitute an HD video conference for an audio call or a Web conference. So, it’s the ability to see the faces of remote colleagues and customers that more easily reinforces our human-ness, our commitment to the interaction and our trust-worthiness overall, in the business collaboration process.
4. High quality implementations quickly lead to videoconferencing with customers.
For many enterprises in financial services or high technology with sophisticated IT security policies, the inter-enterprise video session is easier said than done. That’s because the security discussions typically overwhelm the network interconnection negotiations. These organizations struggle with enabling high-speed interconnection without compromising security standards. The security engineering required can often introduce delays in the approval, testing and limits on the implementation of ad hoc inter-company video communications.
Precisely because of these issues, a new class of carrier-peering specialists have emerged too quickly and on an ad hoc basis, enabling secure interconnection services. The model is simple. All of their supported clients terminate a link in the peering agency’s collocation facility, to be used as required. Normally, these connections traverse no traffic, except when a session is scheduled, then proven firewall, address translation and high-speed packet management assure high-speed, low delay, secure interconnections for the duration of the video session.
5. It’s a real-time collaboration service.
Unlike e-mail, which is a time-shifting service where you respond to my e-mail at your convenience and I reply at my convenience, videoconferencing happens with all parties in the same ‘meeting time zone.’ For coast-to-coast or intercontinental collaborations, this can be troublesome, as some parties might need to participate early in the morning or late in the day in their particular time zone. Assuring multi-time-zone participation can point to the need for a session orchestration service or enterprise-wide scheduling service that gets the time right, every time.
Peter Brockmann, a seasoned technology marketing executive, writes the Out of the Box column for TMCnet. To read more of Peter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michelle Robart