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Interop Expo Las Vegas: Emerging Video Technologies (Session Overview / Review)

April 8, 2014 | David S. Maldow, Esq.


Dimension Data presented at Interop Las Vegas last Friday on Emerging Video Technologies. Dimension Data's team was asked to cover this topic as their firm has extensive experience with all of the manufacturers in the space, enabling them to take a more unbiased approach than any single manufacturer would have.

The session's agenda covered the following topics, followed by a Q&A session.

  1. Overview of the Visual Collaboration Space
  2. WebRTC
  3. Codecs and Standards
  4. Unified Communications - Interop and Best Practices.


The session opened with David Danto, Principal Consultant at Dimension Data, speaking of the Goldilocks Syndrome. My take on his piece is that there is a big opportunity to get video "just right" in today's "huddle rooms" or smaller meeting rooms. The immersive systems are too expensive. The personal systems are designed for desktop and don't provide an acceptable experience in a meeting room, even a small one.� A new category of lower priced room systems could be a possible answer to this problem. His strong advice was to avoid using webcam based systems in conference rooms - but at the same time avoid building expensive, custom or immersive rooms when appropriate off-the-shelf solutions were available.� He made the point that no one type of endpoint is correct for any organization.� Each one has unique use-cases that should be served by the appropriate blend of solutions.�


Is WebRTC too big to fit? (Which is an inside industry joke referring both to the recent WebRTC conferences that had overflowing audiences and the equally overflowing hype.) David, provided some thoughts and insight into this extremely controversial topic. In its simplest terms, WebRTC is the technology which allow for native videoconferencing in a web browser, without plugins, apps, programs or any sort of download. The presenters gave a pretty detailed, and very interesting breakdown of why WebRTC would be so important, and why it has failed in so many of its promises to date. �


My take, is that on the one hand, it's hard to dismiss the fact that the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser are now defacto video endpoints. Admittedly, until IE gets on board it won't be ubiquitous, but it's still a pretty massive deployment. The other benefits discussed including advantages for developers due to its open source nature, are equally compelling. On the other hand, it just isn't "there yet" and while the organizations that need to cooperate to get it "there" have much in common, they also have some differing goals, interests, and motivations.


Chris Wulf, Managing Solutions Architect - Visual Communications took the audience through the alphabet soup of today's codec wars. My take is that anyone betting the farm on whether H.264 or the open format VP8, would win out will be disappointed. This fight is moving on to the next round as VP9 will compete with H.265. Chris provided context and explanation for all of this, and what effects it could all have on our actual VC environments.� He said it was important to understand the trade-off with the newer codecs though - what you gain in either reduced bandwidth or increased resolution you have to give back in the need for much more compute power at the endpoint.�

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Anthony Vitnell, Solutions Architect - Unified Communications, wrapped up the session with a discussion on best practices for UC. This segment was jam packed with great tips including key considerations when designing your UC environment. He also shed some light on some of the newer technologies in the field and explained the potential tradeoffs between greater interoperability and other key features.


Our industry has been undergoing rapid, disruptive, change for several years now. It's great to take a breath, and figure out exactly where we are now, and where we may be going. For those interested the full Dimension Data team slide presentation can be seen here.�It includes the email addresses of the presenters.

About the Author
David_Maldow, Esq.David Maldow, Esq. is a visual collaboration technologist and analyst with the Human Productivity Lab and an associate publisher at Telepresence Options. David has extensive expertise in testing, evaluating, and explaining telepresence and other visual collaboration / rich media solutions. David is focused on providing third-party independent analysis and opinion of these technologies and helping end users better secure their visual collaboration environments. You can follow David on Twitter.

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