Categories Networking TechnologyPerformance Monitoring

Rolling out a video conferencing system? Are you sure your network can handle it?

High-definition video conferencing from your computer or mobile device out to anyone, anywhere has arrived.

While all tiers of the video conferencing and telepresence marketplace are experiencing strong growth, the biggest leaps are happening with low-cost, desktop- and browser-based “single-codec” systems.

Among the many options in this burgeoning space:

  • Tandberg, now owned by Cisco, offers a range of office, desktop and mobile video conferencing and solutions that combine high quality with low cost.
  • Cisco also owns WebEx, which has long combined video conferencing and desktop sharing through a browser given sufficient bandwidth.
  • Skype currently offers “free” high-definition quality video calling on Windows that requires only an HD webcam and 512kbps connectivity.
  • The feature of the iPad 2 that’s creating the most buzz among executives is probably FaceTime video conferencing, which works quite well over wi-fi. The BlackBerry PlayBook will also include a video conferencing app.

For business as well as personal reasons, a skyrocketing number of ad hoc, browser-based video conferences will be going out over your network – sooner than you think!  Likewise, more and more organizations are installing affordable telepresence technology in executive offices and conference rooms.

The question you, and your IT team, need to ask is: Can your network handle this massive influx of extra traffic? How big of an impact will it have on the performance of all the other network-based services your business now relies on – from VoIP to SaaS/cloud applications to virtual desktops to online backups?

Every one of these critical systems will falter and fail abruptly if network performance degrades even slightly below a specific threshold. The greater the volume of traffic converging on the network, the greater the likelihood of service quality problems resulting in dropped calls, disrupted meetings, failed backups and reduced overall productivity.

While everyone is discussing the massive growth of video-conferencing, we are failing to talk about a key component – how will we deploy and manage the performance of this sensitive and now critical application?

Many businesses are expecting their new videoconferencing services to “just work.” But do they? Do you have a way to assess the capacity of your network prior to deployment? Can you successfully monitor network performance in real-time, both at the home office and at remote sites? What are your employees, partners and customers experiencing on the phone, in the conference room or at their computer?

To monitor and troubleshoot the performance of videoconferencing, VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) and other IP-based applications, companies must look beyond traditional performance management solutions like SNMP tools. These systems aren’t designed to measure the quality of network-dependent services from the standpoint of distributed users, particularly when delivered over third-party and public networks.

To address the dynamic performance challenges associated with today’s converged IP networks requires Remote Performance Management capabilities. Remote Performance Management lets you pre-assess, monitor and troubleshoot how remote and co-located users are experiencing video conferencing, UC&C and other IP-based services, end-to-end, in real-time, from anywhere.

Team AppNeta:

View Comments

  • Nowadays, most of the companies have their IT systems upgraded as per the latest technology trends and I don't think IT departments could face any problems implementing a full fledge video conferencing systems like Polycom, RHUB, Avaya, Vidyotel etc. They are equipped to handle huge traffic.

  • @disqus_7nXXYd7ErQ:disqus , thanks for sharing. That's a great observation, but I challenge the term 'most'. We're seeing a small percentage of enterprises deploying HD video conferencing over either dedicated WAN services (Video is the only traffic) or very over-engineered networks from a capacity standpoint. Every once in a while we'll hear from prospects 'we don't even use QoS because this is a video-only network and we provision way more capacity than we need'.

    More often we see enterprises deploying video conferencing on converged networks - even though there may be LAN and WAN upgrades, video services are competing for network priority with other apps - cloud services, Voice, backup, replication, ERP, etc. So, you'll see a 4 or 6 class quality of service configuration and a complex prioritization ruleset choreographed by LAN managers and the WAN services that support site-site connectivity. Several of the vendors you cited use specific tools to perform pre-deployment validation for QoS, capacity delivery, and other performance KPIs that must be met in order to provide a satisfactory user experience. A properly working conferencing environment has a self-life that's determined by convergence, human configuration error, equipment failure, and other factors. In other words, video works fine until it doesn't. All the better to deploy a proactive performance management solution to assure the substantial investment companies make in HD video conferencing.