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Desktop Video Conferencing Demos at Interop New York

I was track chairman for a small video conferencing track at Interop New York, which just finished up on Friday. We ran three sessions on Friday morning focused on 1) choosing a video conferencing solution, 2) Network requirements for video conferencing support and 3) personal video conferencing solutions.In the personal video conferencing solutions session we looked at four different technologies and how they are deployed in the Enterprise environment. My goal was to allow the audience to see these very different approaches, and think about how they fit into the needs of their specific enterprises.

Our first presenter was Adi Regev, VP of Products at Vidyo. Adi presented and demonstrated the scalable video coding (SVC) architecture that Vidyo uses. Adi had a whole team of folks on his demonstration call from locations around the globe. The SVC architecture has some key advantages in being able to provide clean video calls on a lossy network, and in being very scalable for multipoint calls within the enterprise. I will write more about the SVC technology in an upcoming article.

Our second presenter was Michael Helmbrecht, Senior Director of Product Management at LifeSize Communications. LifeSize has a range of both hardware and software-based products, but I had asked Michael to demonstrate a stand-alone client. Michael showed us a software client loaded on his desktop that was able to communicate with an HD room-based system at his home office in Austin, TX at full HD (720p30) resolution.

Our third presenter was John Antanaitis, VP of Product Marketing for Video Solutions at Polycom. John presented the merits of a server-based video conferencing model. The Polycom CMA product acts as a central manager for desktop video clients. Users connect to the CMA and download the software initially. After the client is in place, it automatically registers with the CMA. Provisioning, authentication, bandwidth management and call admission are all managed by the CMA, making it an easy architecture to support by a centralized IT resource. John opened a video call to his office in Austin, where a remote presenter opened a window on the desktop to show us slides and explain the value of the centralized server approach.

Our final presenter was Wilhelm Lundborg, Product Manager, Skype for Business. Wilhelm showed us the Skype client, which operates without any infrastructure in the Enterprise at all, and costs nothing to use. Wilhelm opened a video call to a colleague in Stockholm, Sweden and interactively discussed the merits of the Skype approach. Skype calls are limited to 2 parties at this time, but operate peer-to-peer just like Skype voice calls and have no costs beyond the cost of your Internet connection.

One of the biggest questions for all these approaches is scalability. A large room-based video conferencing environment has 500 to 1000 deployed video endpoints, and those are big multi-national companies. I predict we will see desktop video conferencing deployments soon that will have that many endpoints in a single office. This rapid growth will stress the video conferencing and network infrastructure. We need careful planning and good system designs to continue to properly support video during this rapid expansion.

One of the topics we only touched on during this session is the integration of desktop video with the Unified Communications architectures being promoted by the big voice vendors. I think there is still a lot of work to do to get these solutions both compatible with each other and compatible with a large scale enterprise UC deployment. I am sure we will have more of these conversations both here and at VoiceCon in Orlando next March.

Are you planning to deploy desktop video conferencing in your enterprise? What are your concerns? Post your thoughts and let's discuss it.