Understanding Cloud Based Video Conferencing

With so many technologies getting enhanced by living in the cloud, you might wonder if video conferencing can be taken to the cloud as well. If so, it should be done in a professional manner — are there offerings on the market that will do this? What are some of the pros and cons of taking video conferencing to the cloud? Can your conferences be recorded and possibly used against you?

The beauty of cloud-based services is that they make video and audio accessible to anyone, wherever they are, regardless if they are at a desktop or on a mobile device. They make video easy for everyone, increasing the technology's penetration within your organization. Cloud-based services shift Unified Communications and video solutions from tools used solely in the boardroom into a means for a distributed organization or SMB to easily link remote partners and employees.


Cloud Based Video Conferencing for dummies
Cloud Based Video Conferencing for dummies
As of this writing, there are several offerings on the market that offer cloud-based video conferencing. Typically these services are on 24/7, thereby allowing anyone to connect with anyone else who happens to be on at the same time.

The first service is the Blue Jeans Network, which gives you both external and internal cloud video conferencing. Supporting a WebRTC browser, it also extends to any mobile device. The company says they have made the video analog to an audio conference bridge, as it is able to connect 25 Lync, Skype and POTS users via its global POPs. The service can be bought by virtual port, license per user, or minutes per month.

Next is Glowpoint Inc., which offers hybrid cloud enterprise environments, fully hosted video, or managed on-premise deployments. Glowpoint's OpenVideo Cloud boasts open and secure, endpoint agnostic and network neutral video conferencing. It connects conference, mobile and desktop rooms from vendors such as LifeSize, Avaya, Cisco and Polycom. Glowpoint's collaboration can be tied in with OpenVideo Cloud, and the monitoring and management services are offered at a range of price points.

Vidtel MeetMe offers an enterprise-level service which acts as a video conferencing brige that links rooms, browsers and mobile devices. It's available in plans priced by minutes per participant, or unlimited quantities for 5, 8 or 12 people. The latter packages also include HD audio conferencing.

Other cloud based video conferencing services can take care of different organizations. OmniJoin and 8x8 offer these services to SMBs, and Vidyo has its free offering in beta.

Pros and Cons
         Price is one of the positive items at the top of the chart for cloud based video conferencing. This is because they normally do not require on-site installation, and usually do not rely on complex hardware solutions.
         Scalability. Cloud-based solutions typically allow you to purchase only what you need at that moment. Many non-cloud video conferencing platforms will necessitate that you make a large investment in their system, thereby increasing your risk.
         Adaptability. Another pro to the cloud-based system is that it will usually work well with a wider range of systems, and normally does not need as much preparation time prior to implementation and actual usability.

If not handled correctly, there can be some cons to the cloud experience, such as:

         User Experience. Cloud-based tools might look different for divergent devices, or in disparate circumstances. This may end up causing confusion among your users.
         Quality. Despite the fact that the larger investments of non-cloud systems may look pretty non-attractive, the other side of that coin is that the larger investment typically results in the highest quality of conferencing.

Can conferences be recorded?
Yes, typically speaking, a conference can be recorded. However, not all services or apps have the recording ability built-in. In these cases, you'll have to use a third-party application to record either the audio and video, or just the audio if that's enough for you.

Keep in mind, though, that desktop recording of video is going to make big files very quickly. Audio only will save a lot of space, and there are a number of programs that can do this. Sound Recorder is built in to Windows, but the free and open-source application Audacity goes much further in the way of features.

Other programs such as Camtasia can capture all desktop activity, including a video stream, but its $299 price point might be a block for some SMBs.

About The Author


Michelle Patterson has been learning and writing about the new IP based communication technologies. She loves sharing her information so that businesses and business owners could take advantage of these technologies.

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