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Videoconferencing Meets Streaming -- Finally

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Dupuis says there’s still an ongoing challenge in terms of live events, even those that integrate videoconferencing and streaming. The issue, he says, is the discovery of self-started events, which can then be streamed to the rest of the organization live or archived for on-demand viewing later.

MediaPlatform’s Herz says that the next step is to integrate with desktop video chat applications.

“I have heard the need to bring in SME desktops via Lync or Jabber,” says Herz. “Our solution will support Jabber now and we are also investigating Lync as a live source for webcasting. This has been tricky, as Lync uses the RT Video proprietary codec while Jabber uses standard H.264.”

Herz also says that a specialized product such as Cisco’s TCS isn’t in as widespread use as videoconferencing units, or even the multipoint control units -- also known as bridges -- that allow multiple videoconferencing units to be part of a single conference. To address the lack of TCS units in the field, MediaPlatform is offering a cloud-based TCS approach.

“Most folks that have videoconferencing and MCUs rarely have the TCS, so our cloud TCS approach might be more viable in the short term,” he says. “I am hoping to get more customers and prospects to buy their own Cisco TCS units.”

Skype is another option that’s being integrated into larger workflows. Telestream’s WireCast 4.2 now supports a number of “virtual camera and microphone” outputs, which can then be used as video or microphone sources for programs such as Google Hangouts and Skype sources, allowing WireCast to add graphics and additional production values that are streamed to Skype as part of a larger video workflow.

Herz emphasized the point that streaming videoconferencing video is just the start.

“I am learning that simply streaming the videoconferencing unit video may not be enough,” says Herz. “Folks are pushing back by saying that they want to use the videoconferencing video as another feed that they add to their local video mixer. At the mixer they will mix in other videos, add graphics, and then push a program feed to our MediaPlatform solution.”

He reiterated, though, that what is technically possible needs to be “trumped by the demands of making sure that high profile executive messages are not compromised in quality.”

Case in Point: Lockheed Martin

That message of quality and enhanced executive messages brings us back around to Lockheed Martin, a company that has been the subject of Streaming Media magazine articles for more than a decade.

In a 2009 article (go2sm.com/lockheed), we assessed Lockheed’s streaming solution, noting that each unit is able to decide what solution to use. In 2013, though, the majority of Lockheed business units are on MultiVision, the Sonic Foundry Mediasite solution custom tailored for Lockheed.

Qumu’s Video Control Center will interface with videoconferencing components to acquire a stream, then manage and distribute it throughout an enterprise via an internal content distribution network.

Thomas Aquilone, Lockheed Martin’s enterprise technology programs manager for its IS&GS (information systems and global solutions) Media Services, and Sean Brown, vice president at Sonic Foundry, described the solution during a recent webcast. Titled “7 Ways To Leverage Video for Your Corporate Communications,” the webcast covers unified messaging and budget concepts. The webcast can be seen in its entirety at go2sm. com/sf7, but here are a few important takeaways.

“We have the desire to reach employees in our large geographically dispersed workforce with critical unified messages,” says Aquilone, “getting rid of the ‘whisper down the lane’ effect that happens from person to person. We want to build stronger teams and boost efficiency.”

“Tom’s team has organized thousands of webcasts to hundreds of thousands of participants since 2004,” says Brown, “and is one of the earliest users and key advisers for Mediasite, as well as many other technologies that they use.”

“We want our presenters to engage and speak directly to employees,” says Aquilone. “High resolution synchronized slides need to be available, and once we were able to evaluate a series of products, the MultiVision system was created. It’s a rebranding of the Mediasite system inside our enterprise. Now we can get critical and time sensitive messages out.”

Aquilone acknowledges that, while live is key and the best overall approach, some employees may need to watch an on-demand version of a live event and that the investment in streaming and videoconferencing gear is worth the effort.

“There’s no question that when one leader, one presenter, can get the message out to thousands of people you’re doing a great job,” says Aquilone. “You are saving money and making that person’s time much more effective.”

“The ROI is many people get one message,” he added. “They’re all on the same team. Nobody has to be inconvenienced. They can time shift and look at it any time they want.”

Lockheed has also made significant progress on its multicast environment, with Sonic Foundry’s Brown stating that he’d never seen as large a multicast-enabled footprint as he had at Lockheed Martin.

Aquilone concurs with the research study respondents who stated that training was of key interest for enterprise streaming video use.

“Video for training boosts efficiency,” says Aquilone. “If you can see it, if you can hear it, if you can practice it, you learn it much better.”

Still, Aquilone says that live delivery by the executive team is by far the best way to address the overall organization.

“Go live,” he says. “When you can go live and have a successful meeting, that really helps the executives get their message across.”

This article appears in the October/November 2013 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "Videoconferencing Meets Streaming -- Finally."

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