The introduction of cloud services has caused a shake-up in the world of video conferencing. It seems many IT departments are no-longer prepared to put up with the challenges they face with the technology.
Although the “Cloud” is a hot new topic, it’s important to note cloud services are not exactly new to the video conferencing arena. In fact the service has been available for quite some time. The recent buzz around the “Cloud” meant VC providers simply couldn’t ignore the opportunity to re-badge their formerly named ‘Managed Service‘. And why should they, since most service providers have added the “cloud” to their offerings.
With video conferencing fast becoming a must-have communication tool, and with IT departments becoming more accepting of cloud offerings, businesses are keen to explore the various options available to them to ensure their existing or future investment doesn’t become a white elephant, which can often be the case if not installed and configured correctly. It’s important for them to recognise the benefits of these services over traditional hardware solutions.
So, what are the advantages of cloud video conferencing?
- Reduces Costs – Rather than investing and maintaining expensive infrastructure equipment, users can simply dial into a virtual meeting room, managed by the service provider, resulting in reduced maintenance costs.
- Interoperability – Most cloud video conferencing services inter-operate with, and support, video equipment from the leading manufacturers; including Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize and Radvision.
- Fast and simple – Existing video conferencing users, and even non-video users, can connect to a video conference within a matter of minutes. For non-video users, cloud service providers offer downloadable desktop clients allowing anyone with a web cam to connect to a video call.
- Bandwidth relief – Ideal for organisations with bandwidth limitations, as well as those without in-house support.
- Higher level of resilience – Service providers are likely to have a backup Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) to ensure a high level of service is delivered at all times. Businesses, who have invested in one MCU, are unlikely to have purchased a backup MCU.
- Scalable video – The service provider’s equipment ensures smooth operation so users experience minimal interruption and packet loss.
- Security – Service providers and data centres are usually highly secured environments. Data encryption and secured access to virtual rooms using login and password information ensures real value is added in terms of security.
Although cloud services are increasing in popularity, the unwillingness of many organisations to use them is understandable. Where infrastructure provides you with full control, cloud services offer little in terms control, and can often prove to be more costly in long term.
However, the robust and scalable infrastructure of the service provider guarantees quality of service, and is proving to be one of the main contributing factors when adopting the technology. Video conferencing requires efficient infrastructure in order to achieve the best possible results. In addition to this, the on-going cost of cloud services can be considered as an operating expense rather than capital expenditure.