Getting Started With Telepresence

Updated: April 30, 2009

When it comes to telepresence , forking over the cold hard cash for such a sizable purchase is the least of an enterprise's concerns. With its high technical demands and sophisticated network requirements, it's crucial that users properly deploy and maintain their telepresence systems.

It's a task, however, that's easier said than done given telepresence's web of room systems, collaboration tools, software and business-to-business connectivity issues. Just the physical installation of a telepresence solution calls for ceiling height assessments and acoustic adjustments, and the entire deployment process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete.

Standalone vs. Hosted

Nor are any two system deployment processes the same. For example, notes Jayenth Angl, a research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, "One fundamental difference is that Cisco's telepresence is a standalone system whereas HP's Halo Collaboration Studio is a managed service that is actually managed over HP's Halo Video Exchange Network."

That's because, unlike Cisco Systems, HP offers a hosted telepresence solution. For a monthly fee, users enjoy access to the Halo Video Exchange Network, a dedicated fiber-optic network that connects Halo studios worldwide. What's more, all diagnostics and calibration are handled remotely and during off hours without troubling by in-house staff. A Halo concierge is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to field questions.

"There is incentive to go with a managed service for peace of mind," says Angl. "Yes, there is a cost involved, but HP can set aside the resources to actively manage 24/7 service so that you don't have lag issues or potential quality issues."

Not all businesses, however, are eager to place the bonus of telepresence features on a vendor. That's why Cisco offers a standalone application that can run over a business's own network provided it meets the necessary bandwidth requirements. In fact, only 24 VARs are authorized to set up Cisco's telepresence product because it must be installed according to Cisco's specifications to create a specific experience.

Management Considerations

As for managing the solution, customers can either leverage in-house expertise, or sign up for Cisco Select Operator Service, an offering that provides remote monitoring and management, including an option of real-time administrative support with the Cisco TelePresence Remote Assistance Service.

Teliris' VirtuaLive telepresence tool is delivered through the Teliris managed service with end-to-end ownership of a high service level backed up by a contract. This managed service ensures that all of the technical parts of the meeting are preset and tested before anyone walks into the room. When a meeting participant walks into a VirtuaLive meeting, the displays are already on, preset to the right cities based on the automated scheduling system and zoomed to the right level to include the right number of people on each display.

Polycom provides complete hosted management of a customer's telepresence solution via a staff of experts. The concierge-level service includes call scheduling and suite reservation services, call management, remote monitoring and monthly reporting. TANDBERG offers both remote installation for customers that prefer a hands-on approach, as well as on-site installation.

In the end though, selecting the option that best suits your business is all about determining which approach is likeliest to yield a problem-free implementation and management of your telepresence solution.

After all, says Claire Schooley, a Forrester Research senior analyst, "You want a good experience if you're going to pay all this money for telepresence."

Featured Research
  • The New SMB Phone Systems Comparison Guide

    Does your small or medium-size business need a new phone system? Then you're in luck! Our new, updated comparison guide helps you cut through superfluous information and narrow down your list of solution providers. Get the latest data on phone system features, pricing, and performance metrics in an easy-to-use format. more

  • How UC Can Help Your Business Survive the Holidays

    The holiday season is filled with frenzy and excitement for businesses and consumers alike. Consumers prepare gift lists, compare brands and prices, and begin shopping with a vigor that is not present most other times of the year. For many businesses, the holiday season accounts for a large profit bump at the end of each year, and companies strive to exceed their goals and keep customers happy during this rush late in the year. more

  • [Infographic] Switching Phone Systems

    There are a lot of possible reasons you might want to switch to a new phone system. The old one might cost too much or be too troublesome to operate and maintain. It might not be flexible enough. It might not be reliable enough. Or it just might not have the kinds of features and capabilities that you need in today’s competitive business climate. more

  • Business VoIP on a Budget

    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems represent the next innovation of telephone connection and communication by making it possible to conduct calls over a broadband internet connection, rather than an analog phone line. more

  • [Infographic] The Advantages of Unified Communications

    Did you know that according to 8x8, the tangible ROI of a unified communications solution for a 10,000-person enterprise is approximately $15.5 million? This isn't the only way unified communications can improve your business. more