Picking the Right Video Conference Call SolutionFirst, the predictable point – there is no single best conferencing solution. What works best for a mega corp is probably not going to be appropriate for a 10-member team. What works for a team full of millennials is probably not going to work for teams made up of older professionals. In short, every solution must be a custom one, and one that is calculated based on a company’s needs and composition. This is where A/V integrators excel, in that they are obviously familiar with the equipment, the installation and critical concepts like interoperability. An integrator can guide executive and IT personnel through the process, ensuring they are not trapped with a system they can’t use effectively. But before a company even meets with an A/V integrator, they can make a couple high level decisions. Not the minutiae of equipment selection, but whether the best option is a managed cloud solution, an on-premises solution or a little of both. What are the advantages of each?
1. Cloud solutions – Cloud solutions are, perhaps, the most significant recent development in the field of video conferencing. Managed cloud solutions involve a third party that is responsible for configuring and maintaining the necessary control units. Equipment will still be required at each endpoint, but the fine details of control unit and network configuration will either be handled or facilitated by the cloud service.
There are major benefits to cloud services, and in general, they are geared toward businesses that need a simpler solution. That includes businesses that don’t have personnel to dedicate to the system’s management, or don’t want to deal with the fine configuration details. They just want something they can switch on and expect to work every time.
That is what cloud solutions offer. A reputable cloud service will optimize control unit placement and have knowledgeable support personnel on hand to assist with any concerns. Although perfect interoperability isn’t guaranteed, cloud services are flexible with accommodating varying protocols. As poor compatibility between endpoints is a persistent concern, this is a nice perk.
Cloud services also make sense for companies that have a lot of remote or mobile employees, as they are designed to accommodate these employees without service interruptions or compatibility issues.
Capital costs are kept down with a cloud service as well, reducing the upfront cost of a conference call solution dramatically. And as hardware and software iterates, the cloud service will adopt tech advancements in an intelligent fashion, without the company having to make the capital investment.
Finally, network and bandwidth limitations may steer a company toward a cloud service. Crowded networks can render onsite conferencing unreliable or slow. A managed solution can alleviate the stress put on the network.
2. On-premises solutions – Clearly, there’s a lot to like about managed cloud solutions, but they aren’t always the optimal choice. And even when a cloud solution is in place, it usually makes sense to have an on-premises option in reserve.
An on-premises solution is better suited for companies that can make the initial investment and have people on staff that can provide support. An integrator can help with the latter, as they can usually dedicate support personnel to ongoing system maintenance and support. An integrator that acts like a partner can provide many, if not all, of the same services that a third-party cloud service could offer. Companies that want tighter control over their services may find that partnering with an integrator can provide just that.
There are situations where a company doesn’t have a choice but to develop an on-premises solution. Security and resiliency factor into most of those situations. Some businesses have to adhere to tight security standards like the ISO 27000 series, and managed cloud services may not be able to provide that level of security. In general, an on-site solution affords companies with greater control over security, and that may not be negotiable. Security is also a must if a company records its video conferences. Recorded material may not be something that the business wants hanging in a remote server somewhere, and that’s not a concern with on-premises conferencing systems.
Resiliency is a common concern as well because a managed service does represent another potential failure point. And for many companies, additional failure points are just not acceptable, especially when communications are a critical element of their operations. Because resiliency is so important, most businesses will develop a backup on-premises solution, even if it is very basic, in the event that the cloud service goes down.
And when a company can afford the investment into equipment and personnel, it usually pays off in terms of long-term savings and deeper configuration. The latter is extremely important for businesses that need to integrate collaboration software into their conferencing solutions.Of course, companies aren’t confined to pure cloud or onsite hardware solutions. The reality is that businesses will need a combination of cloud, software and hardware platforms to ensure they have conferencing options at all times and in every setting. Figuring out how to link those solutions together and where they need to complement each other is something best left to A/V experts. With the sheer number of conferencing solutions available to companies, the only way to completely optimize a system is to consult with an A/V integrator, discuss needs and match those needs to the appropriate solution.