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Full Nelson: ViVu Ships Skype Plug-In

Despite the allure of this tweener videoconferencing product, our testing reveals several shortcomings.
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ViVu says it can work over virtually any connection speed. It uses RTMP for video streaming and does some of its own magic to calibrate user bandwidth and apply QOS settings. It takes several seconds -- at least in our testing -- for that calibration to finish. The software continues to monitor the links throughout a session. For really poor connections, it defaults the client system to audio only. However, the host system, which uses Java software, needs to have a high-quality connection.

ViVu supports Sorenson, On2, and H.264 encoding. It uses XMPP to push slides and for chat.

The system runs on Amazon's EC2, which ViVu says lets the system scale, gives users more points of presence (POPs) and the ability to create new instances on the fly. ViVu handles all of the load balancing, proximity finding, and signaling -- so in a sense, it acts as a CDN for real-time traffic.

ViVu supports recording every part of the conference (video, audio, images), and with the recording, users can skip to any part of the video. In fact, if the user clicks on a slide, it takes them right to that part of the video. These recordings can be exposed as simple links, or in an iframe player.

As with any system that uses the public Internet, including Skype, there are potential problems traversing firewalls. To get by firewall issues, ViVu says it first tries port 1935, then uses tunnels, or its sessions eventually get passed through port 80.

ViVu also provides detailed analytics, including who participated, bit rate, QOS metrics, and quality of experience (packet loss, latency, etc.).

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV.

I am on the jury for the Cloud Connect Launch Pad, produced by TechWeb. This is a competition that lets companies present their innovative application (either in development and about to launch, or recently launched) to the Cloud Connect community in March. Feel free to submit an entry, following the contest rules.

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