Videoconferencing is moving from a high-end luxury to a must-have business feature. End users expect a videoconferencing experience that is ubiquitous, cost effective and can be delivered with high quality and a guaranteed service level. There are a variety of videoconferencing solution alternatives to fulfill this growing demand, but a confluence of trends in web, video and mobile technologies is expected to specifically boost demand for cloud videoconferencing.
Interoperability is arguably the largest barrier to the widespread adoption of videoconferencing. Traditional videoconferencing solutions from a single vendor work well, but often lack interoperability with other vendors or past technologies. Business videoconference calls with third-party participants outside the organization rarely work without some sort of hiccup. Moving videoconferencing to the cloud enables enterprises to hand these interoperability worries off to their cloud vendors.
Bring Your Own Device
The growing trend around BYOD will also accelerate videoconferencing. With the surge of BYOD in the enterprise, videoconferencing systems need to support a wide range of end user devices. It can be difficult for enterprise IT departments to stay current on all devices and fast-occurring upgrades, so enterprises are likely to hand the responsibility to a cloud provider that can then handle integration and support.
WebRTC is perhaps one of the biggest disruptive technologies in videoconferencing today. Anyone with a PC, tablet or smartphone will be increasingly participating in videoconference calls through a browser interface, without the need for special client hardware or software. The cloud is a natural choice for best delivering and supporting videoconferencing services with WebRTC endpoints.
Today, about 80 percent of the web conferencing market is hosted, while hosting accounts for less than 15 percent of the videoconferencing market. WebRTC could easily change that.
Video Codec Advances
New codecs like H.265 and VP9 can reduce the bandwidth required for the same level of quality of video by up to 50 percent. These codecs have the potential to cut the cost of videoconferencing since bandwidth cost is a key component in overall price. Video quality should generally increase since many video calls are currently limited to a specific bandwidth. As these codecs get silicon implementations, they will provide greater impetus to real-time mobile video. Higher use of mobile video will lead to more demand for video services in the cloud. However the switch to these new codecs will not be immediate, hence transcoding functions will be required to interoperate with existing solutions using codecs like H.264 and VP8.
Voice/Video over LTE (News - Alert)
LTE networks can deliver mobile broadband and communication services with greater capacity and lower latency. This allows operators to develop all IP-based infrastructure to enable voice/video over LTE solutions based on IMS architecture. Just like in the enterprise where IP conferencing soon followed IP telephony, one can expect mobile IP telephony to be followed by IP collaboration services based on IMS by mobile operators. Many mobile operators already are and will increasingly become conferencing service providers, or CSPs.
Making the Case
Leading CSPs already offer collaboration services using audio, video and web technology today. Audio conferencing remains the dominant revenue generator for CSPs, and will continue to grow over the next five years. Meanwhile revenues from videoconferencing services are growing much faster, driven by user acceptance of video calling and conferencing, improved mobile broadband, cost reductions, and the ability to participate in video sessions outside of the enterprise videoconferencing meeting room.
While businesses find videoconferencing valuable, managing on-premises equipment, keeping up with the latest video technology developments, and delivering flexible and scalable deployments make cloud videoconferencing services more appealing than in-house rollouts. Enterprises are increasingly turning to CSPs as trusted service suppliers that can help reduce video complexity and de-risk their video implementations.
The IMS architecture was explicitly developed to address the needs of telecommunications service providers offering multiple services on a large scale to many enterprise customers and consumers. IMS videoconferencing is optimized for service provider needs, providing technical and economic benefits over alternative videoconferencing approaches. IMS also delivers the interworking between the islands of videoconferencing capabilities across today’s MCU, enterprise UC or OTT offerings. By service providers offering cloud videoconferencing services based on IMS, their enterprise customers can reduce costs, while improving ubiquitous video collaboration with third-party participants and remote workers.
Mobile operators and CSPs understand the need to deliver high quality audio with high quality video to their conferencing and collaboration solution users. They also understand that the application and the media processing functions should be able to run on telco-grade platforms, as well as on commodity virtualized platforms enabling hybrid (public/private) cloud deployment.
The IMS architecture is the best approach to position CSPs to generate revenues through cloud-based multimedia conferencing service offerings to enterprise customers and consumers. IMS compliant elements like Radisys’ Media Resource Function are already supporting millions of VoIP audio conferencing endpoints in hosted and cloud networks today. Multimedia MRFs like the Radisys MPX-12000 build on this audio conferencing pedigree, by adding scalable HD video conference mixing, video codec transcoding and transrating, along with interconnection of the various islands of videoconferencing technologies.
Addressing user expectations and responding to industry trends is vital for CSPs looking to increase videoconferencing minutes and revenue growth. A cloud video conferencing solution based on the IMS architecture is the best approach to seizing these growth opportunities.
Rajat Gopal is a senior product manager. Ray Adensamer (News - Alert) is senior product marketing manager at Radisys (www.radisys.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi