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Seven Ways to Avoid Videoconferencing Pitfalls

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor, TMCnet.com

6/17/09

Some 73 percent of executives recently polled by Blue Coat Systems are using or planning to use either telepresence or other forms of videoconferencing as a substitute for travel, says Mark Urban, Blue Coat senior director.

And there are seven common mistakes user entities often make when using videoconferencing over a distributed network. The first mistake is failure to assess whether the network is ready, says Urban. Network assessments can forestall quality problems caused by congestion, for example.

Without proper visibility of applications running on the network and the means to establish and maintain quality video conferencing sessions, many businesses will experience issues that will undermine the effective use of video conferencing, Urban says. The most prevalent quality issues involve frozen video, video out of synchronization or artifacts. A second mistake is failure to provide enough bandwidth at the set-up point and each end point.

Third, on converged networks there is less of an understanding of what to monitor to ensure quality, says Urban. "RTP is what you have to monitor," he says.

"Make sure you can handle 2 Mbps to 3 Mbps, and telepresence can take 10 Mbps," says Urban. "And you also have to protect your other apps while using videoconferencing."

Troubleshooting skills are a fourth problem area. Managers have to know what to do if and when a problem occurs. Also, network bandwidth requirements are higher during set-up. So make sure the networks have sufficient bandwidth to handle the set-up processes.

A sixth mistake is assuming that the existing network is adequate to support high-quality videoconferencing. Finally, real-time video will have to compete with all other existing applications for bandwidth. It is important to understand what other applications run, and when they peak.

There are limitations, but all are preventable, says Urban. One company Urban is aware of, saves $75,000 annually just on board meeting costs by using videoconferencing.

But desktop conferencing also is growing fast. About 50 percent of respondents already are using, or planning to use, desktop conferencing.

In fact, the things that will cause problems for videoconferencing are pretty much the same sorts of things that cause problems for IP-based voice. "You have the same RTP protocol issues," says Urban.

“VLANs have worked, but it gets real messy over MPLS, running voice as a real-time service," he says. "We see people running videoconferencing as the same class of service as voice, which typically means oversubscription of the bandwidth.

"Do you move voice to a lower priority?," Urban asks.

In simple environments, VLANs work, though. But policy decisions are more complicated when applications such as salesforce.com or other dynamic revenue-producing processes must be supported, he says. End of article.


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