Call the IT Guy, I’m Having a Video Conference!

    The marketing message from practically every video conferencing manufacturer is, “It’s easy. Our stuff, well, anyone can use it.” The problem is, in most cases, it’s easy only after you’ve called the IT guy in to set the call up, test all the connections, and make sure everything is working.

    To deliver on this idea of ease-of-use across an organization with multiple offices and remote workers, a sizeable amount of video network infrastructure is required. You’ll need gateways so that you can connect to other video endpoints, bridges to host multi-party/multi-site meetings, a firewall traversal solution to keep your network safe, call control and directory management and, for a large deployment, you will also need to make sure that it is fully redundant. Then if you want to scale the usage and allow people to use video as a preferred collaboration tool, from their desktops and personal devices, you will need to buy and support even more network devices, since infrastructure is not elastic and will not stretch as demand grows.

    So it is clear that IT has to deal with a lot of complexity right from the initial deployment, through the challenge of system management and ongoing maintenance, through to ensuring that video conferences take place on time and in good quality.

    It seems ridiculous, but this is a common experience for businesses that have an installed legacy video estate. However, it does not have to be the reality for businesses that are now looking at expanding deployments and scaling usage, or for those that are considering video collaboration for the first time. The alternative to all of this complexity, and one that lowers total cost of ownership, is to replace this physical infrastructure with the cloud.

    No Need to Call the IT Guy –  Move to the Cloud!

    A cloud solution built for video conferencing and, more importantly, point-to-point calling, will allow you to jettison any old video iron off the network and out to the recycling plant. Making the move to the cloud means that there are no more boxes to upgrade or maintenance charges to pay. For IT, the cloud brings manifold benefits, one of which is that existing video endpoints can be moved across, and then managed centrally via a portal. This one central point provides IT with all that it needs to monitor usage and troubleshoot issues if they arise. It’s also where IT can manage end users and provision new video endpoints. Typically, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is on a subscription basis and there’s no need for in-house specialist skills.

    It’s cloud, so it goes without saying that it has abundant scale and will stretch as far and as wide as needed. But other key considerations for businesses that are evaluating video as a service are, will the cloud provide direct calling between anyone and anything? Ask the question: is it possible for a Polycom endpoint to call a Cisco one, and for a Skype for Business user to join either, or both, in real-time, all without having to stop and schedule a conference? Not to say that scheduling isn’t important, it is, so the video cloud also needs to offer scheduled conferencing as well as catering for ad hoc meetings too. It’s a nonsense to think that every video call has to be scheduled. Imagine if that’s how every phone call worked!

    Easy Across the Board

    Cloud plus optimized video endpoints is a thing of beauty. With tight integration, the endpoints are treated as very thin clients, and the cloud serves them with all that they need for calling, ad hoc and scheduled conferencing. It’s these cloud endpoints that deliver on ease-of-use for end users. StarLeaf’s OpenCloud plus its portfolio of dedicated meeting room, desktop, and software systems, offers the user such a rich and intuitive experience that it is much like using a smartphone. With this solution it’s hard to imagine a user ever needing to call IT again. This ease-of-use is also evident for scheduled conferences, here StarLeaf systems feature a ‘join now’ button, which when pressed takes you directly into the conference.

    Video equipment has been around for decades. The legacy infrastructure to support it grew up around it and choked it, making video hard to use, difficult to deploy and even harder to manage. At no point did anyone stop and think if it made sense for the end user, for the business, and for IT. That is until the cloud came along and StarLeaf leads with its OpenCloud and systems for meeting rooms, desktops and personal devices. 

    StarLeaf is a sponsor of the 2016 ShoreTelOne Global Partner Conference, a gathering of ShoreTel’s channel partners and distributors as well as industry analysts and consultants from around the globe. The event will take place the week of Dec. 5 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla. Learn more about the conference here.

    Michele Durban has worked in the video conferencing industry for 10+ years, holding a variety of senior marketing positions in a range of companies including Codian, Tandberg, Cisco and now StarLeaf. Michele counts herself as a video extremist, with a firm belief in the power of face-to-face collaboration and how it transforms work-life balance, while benefiting business as a whole. 

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