Tuesday, January 17, 2012
No 'Cloudwashing' Here at Glowpoint
January 17, 2012
What better subject for our inaugural blog than… the cloud!
I noticed a recent article in CloudBeat right before the holidays about ‘Cloudwashing,’ essentially calling out the practice of painting over traditional IT technology with the word “cloud”:
While this article takes a lighthearted approach to the issue, I believe it is important and deserves serious commentary. The constant overuse and misuse of ‘cloud’ can confuse customers and make them suspicious of cloud managed service offerings for video.
I’m here to tell you that there is real value in the cloud. Glowpoint has architected the OpenVideo™ cloud to help IT managers overcome the challenges of deploying and managing video, so that businesses realize the return on investment (ROI) that they expect.
When you consider the choice between in-house management and cloud services for telepresence and videoconferencing, it is important to first consider video compared to other unified communications applications. There are some important distinctions:
Video Is Demanding: IT managers initially deploying or supporting existing video on premise understand that a significant up front and ongoing investment is often required for local infrastructure, such as multipoint control units (MCUs) or scheduling and management servers. This can be an expensive proposition, and often puts a squeeze on IT budgets. When IT managers have to make trade-offs to stay ‘in budget,’ the result is often lower quality of service or reduced capacity – which does not bode well for end users. Video also will compete voraciously for network resources. An acceptable standard definition video call requires at least 250 Kbps, while a high definition call at 720p requires 768 Kbps–1Mbps, and 1080p requires 2-3 Mbps per codec for immersive telepresence rooms. On top of this, the word is definitely out: telepresence and videoconferencing actually works! So adoption and usage continues to grow, driving demand to scale video deployments and provide support for desktop and mobile solutions – introducing the dynamic of supporting wireless connectivity. Finally, despite improvements in reliability and ease of use, video is going to drive more helpdesk calls – just by the sheer fact that now more than ever it is being used for mission-critical meetings.
Video Requires Expertise: Telepresence and videoconferencing were not born out of traditional IT technologies, but rather out of the audio/visual market. The skills and experience necessary to effectively support video are not necessarily easy to come by. In my experience, even the largest, most experienced enterprise IT teams have very few members that are pure video experts, hence they are often overloaded. And it’s not just supporting video, but knowing how to scale it effectively and efficiently, given my points above.
Video is Not Quite ‘Standard’ Yet: While it is true that the H.323 and SIP standards have existed for years, the telepresence and videoconferencing worlds remain fragmented from the standpoints of signaling protocols and codec technologies. This is particularly true between immersive telepresence systems, which are either proprietary or require complicated schemes to map multiple video and audio streams between systems, to deliver the natural ‘just like being there’ experience that users have come to expect. To complicate matters, the demand for business-to-business video calls continues to increase, introducing the requirement of connecting disparate MPLS or Ethernet networks that are designed NOT to connect. It is true that the industry has made great strides in this arena, when you consider Cisco’s TelePresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) or Polycom’s Open Visual Communications Consortium. But interoperability and enabling secure, reliable business-to-business video calls remains –at the very least – a prickly proposition for IT managers. Users want to connect with people, not systems, and they want to conduct business with customers and partners over video the same way they do today with their mobile phones.
Cloud services for video, like those provided via the OpenVideo™ cloud, address these issues head-on and help enterprises realize the return on investment (ROI) that they expected from video in the first place. Today, everything from monitoring and management of the video equipment, along with call control, scheduling, launching, framing, and quality control can be moved to the cloud.
Moving to the OpenVideo™ cloud, which is designed to provide services for any video endpoint, over any network, in an open yet secure environment, has some clear benefits:
Eliminates the Need for On-Premise Infrastructure and Reduces Network Load: Utilizing video infrastructure and network resources in the cloud allows IT managers to quickly deploy video or scale their existing deployment more efficiently and cost effectively. Cloud services also make costs more predictable, given that they are typically sold as a monthly subscription. Call capacity also becomes a non-issue, as resources in the cloud can be utilized as video usage grows.
Eliminates the Need for On-Premise Support: Cloud hosted remote monitoring and management services are designed to find issues with on premise video endpoints and infrastructure and resolve them before they affect a meeting. This, combined with helpdesk and concierge services, virtually eliminates the need for local support and allows IT managers to off-load their teams. It also means video is more reliable and higher quality, which will drive higher usage.
Solves Interoperability Issues Between Systems: The infrastructure and software necessary to support connectivity between systems from different video endpoint vendors is already deployed in the cloud. So users can connect to more colleagues, customers, or partners, while IT managers can pursue a ‘best of breed’ approach to video.
Extends Your Reach With Video: Business-to-business video calling becomes a reality with cloud services. All of the technologies and coordination necessary to navigate through disparate network firewalls and sync with various service providers is taken care of. The cloud also includes a common dialing plan with “video numbers”, so it can be as easy to dial customers or partners over video as it is with your phone.
So, I hope the message is clear. We are not ‘cloudwashing' here at Glowpoint! We provide true cloud hosted services for telepresence and videoconferencing that help IT managers overcome the challenges of deploying and managing video - so that businesses realize the return on investment (ROI) that they expect.