Comparing Video Conference Solutions

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: April 15, 2011

You might feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a video conferencing solution for your company. There are a large number of vendors available, and many of them seem to offer the same thing. This article will provide several guidelines to keep in mind when comparing the different products.

You should first determine whether the video conferencing system provides a truly comprehensive solution. This typically includes:

  • An interface that allows you to schedule meetings, monitor video sessions, and produce detailed reports.
  • A simplified means for the administrator to manage bandwidth and authenticate new users in a timely basis.
  • The ability to negotiate firewalls so your staff can quickly communicate with customers and employees who are working from home.

These three factors are generally considered important by most businesses. If the video conferencing solution does not provide them in a sufficient manner, you may want to move on to the next.

What to Consider When Evaluating Vendors:

How much does the system cost? You can purchase all of the video conferencing equipment yourself, but this can be expensive for a small business. Hosted services are generally much cheaper and available on a monthly basis.

Do you want the video conferencing solution to have HD capabilities? Many vendors still do not provide the option despite its widespread usage in modern business. Others companies offer ‘limited’ HD with specific video resolutions, speeds, and codecs available. If true HD is important to you, make sure that the video conferencing software can support it.

How many people will take part in the meetings? If this is a large number, you will need a video conferencing solution that can properly handle it. Some systems require a separate port for each user, while others take a unified approach. You will also need to make sure that you have sufficient bandwidth available.

How easily does the technology integrate with other systems? This might not seem like a major problem since your employees will all be using the same software, but a proprietary system can prevent you from making video calls to partners and customers that use different equipment.

Are there any special features you would like with the video conferencing solution? These can include schedule holders, voice-activated switching, a help desk option, and on-demand recording. You may also want to see if they have a presentation mode that lets you share information with various endpoints.

Most of this information should be available on the corporate webpage. There is normally a ‘Features’ section that describes the system’s capabilities, along with a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page with additional details. You can also call up the company directly and ask for a price quote on the system. With this information in hand, you should be able to find one that suits your needs.
 

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