Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | June 22, 2016 |


Univago's Got 'Great Bones'

Univago's Got 'Great Bones' Enhancements to Yorktel's Univago video calling service should help reduce complexity of video calling environments, mitigate risks, and improve control.

Enhancements to Yorktel's Univago video calling service should help reduce complexity of video calling environments, mitigate risks, and improve control.

When it comes to cloud-based video calling services, Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research, says he evaluates offerings based on factors like reliability, interoperability, connectivity, and user experience. With such criteria in mind, and having recently conducted hands-on testing, he reported that "all is good" with Yorktel's Univago service.

I spoke with Weinstein, who is a periodic No Jitter contributor, following last week's announcement from Yorktel that it has enhanced Univago with a number of new capabilities. The enhancements are aimed at eliminating complexity, mitigating risk, and providing greater control, Yorktel said in a press release. For example, Univago now supports enterprise single sign-on via integration with Active Directory or Security Assertion Markup Language services; works with the Microsoft Edge browser for WebRTC calling and the Chrome 50 browser for improved audio control; and provides a self-service diagnostic tool for testing audio and video quality prior to calling.

Pexip meeting technology powers Univago, which runs in the Yorktel VideoCloud. Univago isn't the only video calling service with Pexip at its core, but Yorktel "did a nice job with the secret sauce it wrapped around the technology," Weinstein said.

"What you get with Univago is an enterprise-ready service, unlike something like FaceTime, from a company that understands what companies want with accounts, user control, analytics, and that kind of stuff," he said, citing integration with Outlook Calendar as one example. "Scheduling isn't about the technology, it's for the people... click, you've got a meeting."

Another of Univago's benefits is that its virtual meeting rooms can connect to anything -- room video conferencing systems, telephones, Skype for Business, and even browsers only using WebRTC. That latter option is a "big deal," Weinstein said. While that interoperability is thanks to the Pexip platform, Yorktel understands the importance of the user experience and has focused on ease of connectivity.

Besides various features and functionality, the ability to run Univago in a hybrid configuration is a real plus, too, Weinstein said. A hybrid configuration, which combines on-premises Univago virtual machines (VM) with the cloud-based video calling service, is a smart deployment option for companies that have a lot of video calls among employees situated in the same building or campus and on the same internal corporate network.

When an employee initiates a virtual meeting with participants located within the same building, for example, the Univago VM would place the call on an internal bridge rather than sending it out to the public Internet and into the Yorktel VideoCloud. The hybrid option means more efficient use of bandwidth, tighter security, and a better user experience since calls stay local rather than traversing the public Internet and the cloud.

A hybrid deployment option isn't a must-have, but a nice-to-have should a company have the appropriate use case for it. If so, "it's the right thing to do," Weinstein said.

Positives aside, Univago is a young service, and therefore still maturing, Weinstein noted. It has strong core performance, but it is missing some desirable administrative functions. Yorktel needs to add depth in reporting, provide a better view of calls in progress, and provide more dynamic management of the video environment, for example.

"But I'm not dinging it for these things," he added. "Dev has a path, and these will come. It's got great bones."

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