For those who read this blog, you know one thing: I love cloud-based video conferencing.
Well…..I was sitting back the other day pondering life when it hit me (yeah, I am slow). I proposed, then designed, the ESnet H.323 architecture starting in 1999, then ultimately put it into production in January 2004: The ESnet Collaboration Architecture was probably the first (maybe second next to Ohio State’s Megaconference) “cloud-based” video conferencing service. We were “cloud-based” before cloud-based was cool (love ya, Barbara).
Anyway…..ESnet H.323 ultimately served well over 1,500 endpoints (from research organizations to universities to companies) worldwide with an efficient “ad-hoc” (we were also the first ad-hoc dial in) service that saved millions in ISDN connection fees. FYI….Many of the the LHC scientists used ESnet collaboration during the LHC design phase.
An added benefit to H.323 vs ISDN was fast, reliable, inexpensive, and high-quality. Win, win, win, win.
My friend, Tom Mills (Polycom) turned me on to VidTel, and since I do not remember hearing about VidTel…..I took a quick peek at their web site, and what I see is 2/3 interesting and 1/3 confusing.
According to the web site, it looks to me that VidTel has three components.
Let’s look at the interesting, and easy to understand, first.
VidTel’s MeetMe (which appears to be ad-hoc dial-in by the way) is a cloud-based service capable of connecting multiple vendor endpoints, including, mobile devices.
With the correct registration you can meet via the cloud with colleagues using virtually any VC endpoint, anytime the urge strikes. Simple and cool.
The VidTel Gateway interconnects the MeetMe service meeting participants with Google Talk / Chat and Skype. Very cool and needed.
Now the confusing:
The VidTel Connect which allows two endpoints to connect point-to-point. I would like to chat with a VidTel techy about this, but, maybe firewalls are the culprit here?? To me….dialing an IP address (or E.164, or whatever), is, maybe only to me, viable since you can simply put the number in the phonebook and dial it when needed.
None other than the CEO of VidTel replied (see also the comments):
Our Vidtel Connect service is, in fact, about helping customers get through firewalls. As you know, the common practice today is either to put video units outside the firewall on the public internet (what could go wrong?) with difficult IP configuration or behind the firewall with hard to access b2b calling.
We provide a publicly accessible address (an email-like address because it’s based on SIP e.g,email@example.com) and NAT/firewall traversal + unlimited point to point video calling. We can also add PSTN functionality like a regular phone number and the ability to make unlimited phone calls in N. America – all for the price of a monthly phone service.
Back to firewalls. Remembering how we did it at ESnet, we used the MCU’s to connect 2 to XX endpoints in a meeting. In other words, to get around any firewall issues at the far end, the “trusted” ESnet MCU’s / Gatekeepers were allowed to connect, so even point-to-point meetings went through the trusted MCU’s.
VidTel may be doing something similar here….??? Comments welcome!
I do not get involved with costs since they sometimes require a PhD in Finanace to understand, so here is a link. 🙂 I will study that at a later time….
Cloud-based video conferencing makes sense from every perspective. It is here to stay and will change the way companies (small to medium to large) do business.
Love it! 🙂