Opinion: Federation is the key to cloud videoconferencing

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Chris Nunn, head of architecture (collaboration solutions) at vendor Dimension Data, explains how the cloud can be made ready for videoconferencing and collaboration.

OPINION

In almost every organisation today, people have become mobile and are working in and out of the office on a variety of devices – in many cases their own. As a result of that increased mobility and flexibility, video has become a more important way of communicating from business to business, and from employee to employee.

Videoconferencing is a fast, effective, and interactive way for businesses to stay connected, and, thanks to increased mobility, it’s no longer confined to a dedicated meeting room, but instead takes place via a mixture of desktops, laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

Increasingly, businesses are using a broad variety of other collaborative tools t00, which embrace voice, instant messaging, document sharing, enterprise social networking, presence, and other functions – sometimes including video.

Where organisations are using a plethora of different tools and platforms on top of their legacy systems, stitching it all together can be a challenge – no matter how big or small the organisation may be. To do it successfully demands an intelligent combination of hardware and software applications to deliver high performance and consistent video quality over any network, device, or region.

The quality challenge

Most people would agree that there’s nothing worse than a video call with jittery, grainy images and audio delays. While we might tolerate a lower-quality experience on a free, mass-audience public platform to talk to friends or relatives, we want a better video experience than that when it comes to a conference or a collaborative business project – particularly if we’re courting new clients, suppliers, or business partners.

We want to communicate seamlessly, read body language and facial expressions – those subtle, but vital, clues in any business interaction – and make it as much like a physical meeting as possible. But we also want a video connection that’s fast, secure, reliable, with little or no latency.

The rise of cloud computing has made it much less expensive to provide video services that meet those requirements, and we’re seeing the silos between video and voice rapidly break down to make video more democratic and accessible. This has enlarged the ecosystem for these types of interactions, and so who the end user can reach and collaborate with has become a much bigger group.

However, instead of a consolidated video standard emerging from this increased adoption and usage, there is still a plethora of platforms and applications in use.

So, without a single, consolidated video standard, how will it be possible to support the increasing integration of voice and video into everyday workflows?

One way is through the popular ‘Meet Me’ paradigm. This is a streamlined, central service where each endpoint user dials the central meeting point, which connects to a shared conferencing environment.

For example, you could have two stakeholders in a videoconference room in New York connecting with another in India on his laptop, with a third in Australia calling in with her smart phone, to engage in a seamless conversation regardless of the various vendor technologies being used.

Technology suppliers, network service providers and software vendors need to support this federation as organisations demand enhanced and reliable communication with their supply chain and customers.

The new challenge is stitching together the infrastructure needed to provide highly secure and quality video collaboration and have it provided as a service from the cloud. Once this has been managed, you’ll see increased adoption of voice, video and collaboration in many more business environments.

Dimension Data is just one of the many companies and organisations participating in UC EXPO 2015, the connected business event, which takes place on 21-22 April at Olympia in Londonwww.ucexpo.co.uk

About Author

Chris Middleton

Chris Middleton is a widely respected business and technology journalist, author, and magazine editor. In recent years he has been Editor of Computing (where he remains Consulting Editor); co-founder and Managing Editor of Professional Outsourcing – a magazine he developed from scratch and grew to be the leading magazine in its field; Editor of CBR in its most successful year; and co-founder and launch Editor of Sourcingfocus.com. Today, he is co-Director of EastwoodMiddleton Publishing, and founder, designer, and Editor in Chief of Strategist magazine (UK), the boardroom magazine that provides strategic insight for business leaders, and of its mobile-first digital edition at www.iamtheStrategist.com. He is also co-founding Editor of Child Internet Safety magazine, and a contributing Editor of Diginomica.com. Over the years Chris has also written for, among many others, The Guardian, The Times, the BBC, and Computer Weekly. He is the author of several successful books on digital media, and a commissioning editor of more than 50 books.