Monday, May 11, 2009

Admin Considerations for Web Conferencing

Network World has an interesting take on considerations that Admins, CIOs, and IT must keep in mind: A hosted SaaS model is the cheapest option but it has the lowest image quality because of bandwidth unreliability. An on-premise model relies on software installed on a company's servers, creating a smoother video experience, but it can only involve internal users. A blended model is also an option, says Pickett, where you can choose the appropriate technology for a given meeting, such as one with both external and internal participants.

Performance issues arise with certain solutions and can limit the experience. Since the SaaS model is hosted by a third party, the audio is bridged through a separate connection, creating a one- to two-second delay, which is "very annoying for users on the call," says Pickett. The on-premises model through your company's own network streams the audio and video together, fixing the synching issue. However, you can't include outside callers.

Just because you can implement this technology doesn't mean you should. Pickett says CIOs should ask themselves: Will my employees use it? While the cost benefits of reduced travel are enticing, the savings won't come to fruition unless your employees participate. Try a pilot first, assess the results, then roll it out completely.

As a CIO, think carefully before providing this service because of the complexity of the infrastructure, software, training, bandwidth and support required, says Pickett. "The perception, fueled by the very simple, easy-to-use one-to-one video conferencing built into Macs, makes [desktop video conferencing] appear trivial," he adds. Look first at how all the options will meet your business requirements and set expectations, he says.

VIA3, from allows you the best of both worlds. You can use the hosted solution, or an on-prem solution. Both of them are from the most affordable solution on the market today, especially considering the depth of features you receive.