Key Video Conferencing Trends: Interoperability & Integration

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Melanie Turek, Contributor

August 13, 2007

2 Min Read

This week, Tandberg announced its new Video Communication Server, which is designed to deliver two very important features: SIP support and find-me call control. The system spans three products: FindMe, Tandberg Control, and Expressway.

The Find Me feature basically makes it so that video calls are like regular calls—instead of calling a room or a system, you call a person. If the person isn’t at the video endpoint, system will continue to call him at his desk, cell phone, and so on—even at another video endpoint, should that be available to him o her. Users can set their preferences in an easy-to-use interface; conference initiators don’t need to know anything except who they’re calling to make the feature work. The feature is similar to what’s available in most voice systems today, and it makes video conferencing that much easier for regular knowledge workers to use.

More important, in my opinion, are the Control and Expressway applications, which extend call control and firewall traversal functionality to the SIP world. By supporting transparent communication between SIP and H.323 devices like endpoints, infrastructure and management tools, Tandberg is making it easy for organizations to extend video conferencing beyond their firewalls, and to integrate with any and all video conferencing systems—and the end user can stay blissfully ignorant of he protocols involved. Meanwhile, IT administrators can leverage their existing H.323 devices while providing a clear path for migration to SIP.

That interoperability between SIP and the more traditional—and popular, for now—H.323 standard for video conferencing is critical because it allows end users to launch and participate in video conferences without knowing what kind of systems the other participants are using. It also supports video conferencing across enterprises, which is increasingly important as companies look to collaborate with key suppliers, partners and customers.

One interesting thing that came up in my conversation with Tandberg about the Video Communication Server is that they are anticipating a move toward more personalized video conferencing. I couldn’t agree more. While there will always be a need for room-based conferencing—meetings of three or more people aren’t going away—unified communications are driving more video to the desktop, both literal (i.e., the furniture) and PC. That demands several things of video conferencing manufacturers, and two of them are addressed with this announcement.

First, as end users incorporate video conferencing with their other communications, they expect it to act like their other communications—that is, they want click-to-connect capabilities that know who they’re trying to reach and how to find them. Second, as unified communications grow more prevalent in the enterprise, interoperability and integration grow more important inside and outside the firewall.

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