Last week was InfoComm- our industry’s top trade show and where we and you learn about the latest and greatest innovations in hardware, services and software. Exciting, right- well sure, but if you are going to upgrade to 1080p or 4k, you will need to remember that the magic of the internet demands highly reliable networks. Don’t ignore the plumbing, you might get flushed if you do.
This article in our series on Cloudy Cloud comes to you as an outcome of a legacy webinar and an on-going conversation between the team at PVC and partners like KalioTek. If you are looking at a cloud-based Unified Video and Communications platform, your network will make (or break) the deployment. If the end user experience is important (it is!), then the network they use is even more so.
KalioTek is both a customer of, and a trusted advisor to the Perfect Video Conferencing Team. In this webinar CEOs’ Mark Rodgers and Randy Marcotte discuss how their collaborative and respective organizations get the considerations of video, networking and IT management right – or dare we say, PERFECT.
Here is the video of their discussion and overview of the top 10 considerations for IT professionals considering a unified communications solution across a distributed workforce.
A high-quality video conference room experience requires adequate network bandwidth, which in turn requires a network architecture designed with this in mind. There are several aspects of the network to consider: the quality of your networking gear, wireless coverage, SD-WAN technology for multi-site companies, network segmentation using VLANs, and QoS settings.
The first thing to consider is the quality of your networking equipment. Consumer-grade firewalls, switches and wireless access points are attractively inexpensive for startups, but yield a sub-standard video experience. Once companies have grown past the garage stage, it’s time to install some quality business class gear: router, firewall, managed switches, and highly reliable WAPs. The modest investment will pay off in reliability and performance, and their features will set you up for the next stages of optimization for video conferencing.
Speaking of wireless access, you’ll need to consider how many of your users will be using video conferencing without a hardwired network connection. You may need more WAPs to support them. Cisco guidelines calls for one WAP per 1500 square feet in high video scenarios, whereas one per 5000 square feet is the standard where most users are hardwired.
For multi-site companies, a software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) can be of great benefit in reducing network latency that causes delays in video calls between sites. An SD-WAN, such as VeloCloud, utilizes low cost connectivity to form a fast WAN between corporate locations. Packets are routed quickly through the VeloCloud backbone to your remote sites, without fighting internet congestion or relying on expensive WAN solutions like MPLS.
The flat, single-tier networks found in many emerging and midsize companies can allow moments of congestion that delay video and audio packets, resulting in poor quality even for high-end video systems. This can reflect poorly on the company as well as frustrating users, who can tend to fault the video system rather than the network. Consult with a network architect when planning to implement video conferencing or when experiencing quality issues. Properly segmenting the network with a VLAN, a logical segmentation of the network, will yield a much more predictable and satisfying experience in conference rooms that require high quality video.
Another important factor in planning for high quality video throughout a company relies on a networking capability known as Quality of Service, or QoS. More employees are now routinely using video conferencing for more purposes: sales and business development, hiring, training, team meetings, customer projects, etc., making company-wide quality from the desktop all the more critical.
Vendors of different video conferencing apps have differing bandwidth recommendations. Google Hangouts recommends 2.6 to 4mbps, depending on the number of people connecting. Lifesize recommends 1.1mbps for each conference and now at 4K – they are the first to provide this – you will need between 4-6 mgs, per connection, synchronous!. Add to this the explosion of bandwidth-hogging applications invading company networks such as streaming music, video entertainment and online games, and even a well-segmented network with generous bandwidth can choke. Someone has to decide who gets priority and possibly choose to disable certain consumer apps. QoS lets you set up and enforce the rules.
Most ISPs and business class network equipment allow the administrator to prioritize network traffic with QOS settings. Limits and exclusions can be set up for each app by specifying the amount of bandwidth they can use, or by setting a percentage of the whole allotted to each one. Highly interactive, time-sensitive applications such as video must be prioritized.
Consulting qualified networking professionals in the planning stages of a video conferencing solution is a critical step in achieving a satisfying experience for users and consistently getting ROI from your investment.
With this in mind, we encourage you to watch the recorded webinar and request a consultation from KalioTek or PVC.
Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing
- Look at what you already are paying for. Consolidate
- Plan that Unified Video Conferencing is behavior change training
- Create a budget
- Poll a diverse user community
- Get the facilities issues right
- Understand timelines for your vendor and facilities
- Review best practices and how practical they are for your organization
- Run a clean demo, with a small group of stakeholders and influencers
- Set the right timeline and budget expectations with your partner
- Ask for help. Partners like PVC and KalioTek are here to EARN your business by helping.
- Listen only to a manufacturer rep. They are awesome. They also drink lots and lots of Koolaid powered by their quota.
- Expect champaign on a beer budget: If you can not budget for the best, get “good enough” and set the right expectations.
- Don’t skimp. Expect PERFECTION- go big or go cheap- but set the right outcomes based on what and how you deploy
- Don’t o it yourself, unless you do it right. You may step over a dollar to find that quarter- use experts and outsource. You save in the short and long run, guaranteed.
- Don’t forget to get multiple proposals. Have your partner win based on value, and know what value is for you. Price, quality, responsiveness, support? Define your blend.
- Don’t skimp on wiring and device management. The cleaner the deployment, the more reliable and secure.
- Don’t allow change orders, unless you have a change-control and authorization process in place.
- Don’t skip scheduled upgrades- strategic maintenance makes a huge difference.
- Do Check your pipes – Don’t forget to manage bandwidth and make sure you give mission-critical applications priority.
- Don’t skip training- the more you know about what your partners deploy, the more you are in the driver’s seat.
KalioTek™ was founded by four industry survivors who have now worked together with emerging and midsize companies for over 20 years. We set out to build a professional family of consultants founded on long term relationships – relationships within our team, with our customers, and with the seasoned industry professionals who refer us to their clients.