Providers of hosted video conferencing services argue you should only pay for what you need, when you need it. Hiring a supplier every time you wish to put together a video conference definitely has attractions, and minimizing costs is high on the list. However, owning the equipment and having complete control over the entire operation can be a compelling argument for some organizations.
Establishing an on premise video conferencing capability requires substantial upfront investment of both time and money, not to mention the expense of ongoing IT support. As economical as a pay-as-you-go approach sounds, the cost of each video get-together must be justified every time it is proposed. This can be a disincentive to use video conferencing, even when it would be wise. On the other hand, when the company owns its own conferencing capability, there is an strong incentive to make more use of the service and gain greater value from the investment. On premise video conferencing capability encourages communications which could be important and might not otherwise occur.
While a service provider may offer maximum flexibility of configuration and budget, these benefits are likely to come with compromises in quality and ease of use. With their own equipment, companies can configure their video conferencing facilities to provide the best call quality for their circumstances. This is most cost effective for those with a few large installations, but it is also possible (and important) for organizations with different types of facilities to optimize their endpoint performance. Having your own staff to provide support and training can also be a huge help to ensure a consistent experience for all participants.
In some industries video conferencing is used to discuss business strategies or critical data. For those organizations particularly concerned with privacy and data integrity, such as governments, military, or cutting edge technology enterprises, on premise systems offer a greater range of security and configuration options to prevent intrusion or compromise.
Organizations with special needs, either because of their mission or characteristics of their operations, are best served by a system which they configure and control. An example might be a medical facility which interacts with other medical facilities via video conferences. The confidentiality of patient personal and medical information means security and privacy must be high priority for them as well. They are likely to also have special functional needs, such as HD video and graphics.
Medical imaging, supporting patient consultations or treatments, or staff training and educational programs, requires a system which will support high-resolution graphics. Other tasks might call for special cameras, microphones or interfaces to pieces of medical equipment, and necessitate unique software or hardware. Customized features and capabilities are generally easier to create with customer premise hardware and software.
For companies that need the benefits provided by a premise-based video conferencing system, they may be pleased to discover the TCO (total cost of ownership) to be lower over the life of the system than if they were to use a hosted service.
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