A Camera That Makes You (or at Least Your Desktop) Thinner
Mitel, VMware, and Vidyo say they can deliver voice and video services, including desktop multi-point video conferences, on thin client virtualized desktops.
Mitel and Vidyo jointly announced an intriguing development: Video-capable thin client desktops as UC endpoints: Mitel, VMware, and Vidyo say they can deliver voice and video services, including desktop multi-point video conferences, on thin client virtualized desktops.
It was at this time last year, at VMware World, that Mitel and VMware announced a softphone capability on VMware's View VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) solution. Softphones on VDI aren't inherently new, but what made the announcement worthwhile was that the thin client endpoint was performing the media encoding. Most VDI solutions supporting real-time applications do so with server-side processing, which seriously restricts scalability. Mitel split its softphone capability so that the media processing is performed on the endpoint device such as a thin client terminal from Wyse, HP, or Dell. The applications interface runs on the back-end virtualized environment.
Mitel positioned that announcement as a call center solution; it enabled remote and distributed agents to process calls with a thin client desktop. This year at VMWorld, Vidyo adds its video conferencing capabilities to the solution, proving that video doesn't have to add extra pounds in complexity.
Most video conferencing solutions use a multi-point control unit (MCU) architecture which manages and presents all the video streams. MCUs are computationally intensive, as they are serving multiple (HD) video signals and must ensure the appropriate speed, rate, and presentation for each participant. Since MCUs perform large amounts of real-time video transcoding, they commonly exist as dedicated servers with hardware optimized for this task--a deployment scenario not inherently friendly to virtualization.
Vidyo takes a different approach. First, Vidyo is one of the few vendors that already uses H.264 SVC for encoding. With Scalable Video Coding (SVC), the MCU performs the lighter task, similar to routing, of determining the quality for each participant. Instead of transcoding, the MCU selects which layers of the signal to send, and does so by evaluating the link quality and other factors. With H.264 SVC there's a base layer and then added information comes in multiple yet optional additional layers--this enables the signal quality to adjust dynamically.
Architecturally, this approach reduces the computational requirements of the MCU, and requires the endpoint to manage and arrange the various video streams. In this regard, then, Vidyo is taking a similar approach as Mitel, and is working with VMware to enable a thin client in a VMware View environment to perform this locally. The result is a scalable VDI solution that can support multi-party conferencing. Vidyo also intends to natively integrate with Mitel's UC Advanced client, so that a single client can perform voice, IM, and video.
Mitel and Vidyo are jointly going to market with virtualized solutions that can reside in the same VMware environment--the same vSphere servers and the same desktops enabled by View. Although the companies are also integrating their products, there are no changes in distribution. It is a meet-in-the-channel opportunity for Mitel and Vidyo partners. Mitel intends to offer a new dealer certification that requires Vidyo certifications. The solution was demonstrated today at VMworld, however, it won't be generally released until later this year.