Videoconferencing enables virtual meetings with people from around the globe and they are easy, affordable and environmentally friendly. Video conferencing provides synergistic support for telecommuting, enabling remote users to participate in meetings, give remote presentations, and so on. Next generation “desktop” solutions are designed to deliver an acceptable user experience over best-effort delivery networks like the broadband Internet. No wonder businesses continue to increase their investments in video conferencing – InformationWeek claims 75% of enterprises will use video conferencing by 2013.
But these compelling value propositions are compromised if the network environment and available bandwidth cannot support the demands of videoconferencing. Time and money devoted to video equipment, conference room modifications, training for users, etc. will not yield expected business returns if the network cannot handle the demands placed on it by video traffic!
All video conferencing traffic is real-time traffic and demands adequate QoS support across both LANs and WANs. And, we have all learned the hard way that video applications are unforgiving in terms of network quality. Each link in the network must have adequate “clean bandwidth” (that is, bandwidth plus high performance on the upload and the download) to handle not only the expected voice and video traffic, but also the myriad other IP-based applications running on it – everything from SaaS applications to IP storage to virtual desktop infrastructure.
In terms of performance metrics, even the most forgiving videoconferencing applications can handle only minimal latency, jitter and packet loss:
- Excessive latency threatens to de-synchronize the audio and video portions of the conference. Where round-trip latency between endpoints exceeds 200-300 milliseconds, participants start to notice delays between the movement of speakers’ lips and the corresponding audio.
- Packet loss greater than 0.1% to 2% causes the video presentation to be “blocky” or jerky, and causes the audio to drop out.
- Jitter exceeding 15-30 milliseconds can give the video a frozen or stuttering appearance.
Maintaining end-to-end network performance for all videoconference participants within these narrow parameters is vital to successful remote interactions, and ultimately essential to realizing the expected ROI for videoconferencing deployments. The accelerating shift from traditional, room-based videoconferencing systems to desktop/mobile solutions will greatly increase not only the number of endpoints but also the magnitude of the network management challenge.
Another growing challenge with providing network QoS for videoconferencing involves ensuring acceptable experience when interfacing with partners, customers and others outside the enterprise network. Anytime videoconference data travels across network boundaries, service quality can fluctuate.
To assure successful video conferences, you need to know how much bandwidth you have available and how the network is performing – not just on your LAN but end-to-end across all the networks supporting the video conference. Simply tracking total, available and utilized capacity over networks you own isn’t insufficient, because it leaves you “hoping for success” across a web of service providers and best-effort public networks. You need visibility across these networks as well, both to pinpoint where problems are occurring and to know if service providers are meeting their SLAs.
AppNeta’s PathView Cloud with AppView Video offers the end-to-end visibility required to assure network performance quality for videoconferencing – and maximize the value of these investments. Both enterprises and videoconferencing service providers rely on PathView Cloud to manage QoS and pinpoint problems quickly.