Improved technology has made High Definition video conferencing a reality in today’s business world. Video conferencing solutions can now deliver 1080p quality images. A company doesn’t have to be an enterprise to take advantage of hi-def; the products are priced so that small businesses can take advantage of the technology as well.
What kinds of high definition video conferencing design structures exist today for companies to take advantage of? This article will look at several and discuss their pluses and minuses.
The first structure to examine is the in-house videoconferencing service. In this particular case, all pieces of the video conference design are owned and handled by the customer. There has been an investment in equipment and networking by the company in order to take advantage of high definition video conferencing. There is likely one person in-house whose specific job is to take care of the video conferencing. This person may have other responsibilities as well, but handling the video conferencing is the main one. This job may also fall on the IT team as a whole.
While this structure offers the company full control of the video conferencing, the drawbacks are several. First, there is a capital outlay for all of the equipment needed. If there is no one who has experience with video conferencing prior to purchasing the equipment, the possibility exists of buying a system that won’t fully do what the company is expecting to do. Finally, unless the company is looking to hire a single person to maintain the system, the person who supports the video conferencing will be in-house and possibly be a member of the IT team. While the technology may be interesting to them, they’re essentially being handed something they’ve never worked with before and being told to learn it, make it work, and fix any problems that come along. That can be challenging, especially for IT teams that are already finding themselves stretched with other projects.
The alternative to having an in-house system managed by a member of the IT team is to go with a managed video conferencing structure. In this model, the business still purchases the equipment needed for the solution, but a third party manages it. The third party is responsible for all aspects of the system and making sure that it runs correctly. The people cost of deploying a high definition video conferencing solution is reduced in this case, but the hardware and network investment, as well as concerns about service reliability, still exist.
To eliminate the need to a capital outlay and to alleviate some of the concerns about service reliability, a third structure exists. In the hosted video conferencing service, a third party hosts all aspects of the video conferencing solution. Common equipment is housed on the premises of the provider. The provider leases circuits from the local network service provider to interconnect customer sites back to their data center. All video conferencing traffic is carried on this network, which is separate from the data network of their customers that is used to interconnect, PCs, clients, and servers.
The drawback here is that there is an ongoing cost associated with this service, with the customer paying the provider on a monthly basis, many times for bandwidth that was never used. And because an overlay network is being used to carry the video traffic, video cannot be carried to and from laptops and desktops within the company’s environment.
Because of some of the shortcomings of the hosted service, network service providers can step up and offer an integrated video conferencing and VPN service that supports the full range of HD video conferencing systems. The advantage here is that the network service provider becomes a single point of contact for all issues, even if it is not directly taking care of all of the service offered. The end result is that the network service provider offers a converged network for video conferencing which also supports data and VoIP. Installing, upgrading, and supporting one network is less costly than building a network that is dedicated solely to video conferencing. The ability of desktops to be able to conference in to board rooms is fully functional in this structure. Users can conference with peers, conference rooms, and other sites.
Because the network service provider has carrier grade reliability and a network that is already built for high performance, customers can feel confident that the service will be available when needed.
A handful of structures exist that can take advantage of high definition video conferencing. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. When looking at all of them side by side, however, it is clear that a solution with a converged network offered by a network service provider offers the most features, the highest reliability, and the ease to accomplish the most collaboration to increase revenues while putting out the smallest amount of cash. Savvy executives would be wise to weigh the advantages of a network service provider solution when looking at a high definition video conferencing solution.
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