You should never see these videoconferencing quality issues

Video can be a powerful tool for enterprise collaboration, but only with the right product. The case against Lync and Skype


Skype vs. Jabber

For many enterprises, video is becoming an increasingly important real-time communication medium.  Video enables face-to-face relationships with partners and customers and leads to improved productivity amongst broadly distributed internal teams.  In our view, support for a range of video interactions – from simple desktop-based sessions to immersive video rooms – has become a table stakes attribute of an enterprise collaboration solution.

Today, Microsoft Lync video is primarily desktop PC video and requires the use of expensive quad-core processor PC’s in order to support high definition (HD).  If Lync customers require video capability across a broader variety of endpoints, they have to engage third-party partners to build out the complete solution.  Once again, this piece-parts approach adds complexity and support cost to the solution and – in the case of video specifically – can negatively affect the user experience because of potential inconsistencies in the media handling and user interface design between vendors.

For some customers, both those with corporate IT policies as well as those without,  there has been ‘unofficial’ use .. deemed non-standard from the IT group’s perspective, of Skype as an ad hoc videoconferencing tool for point-to-point collaboration.  This has been driven by Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype but also just because of the common use of this tool by individuals in their daily lives.

Unfortunately, from a corporate perspective, the use of Skype does not deliver a high-quality experience, and its use can have a detrimental impact on the perception of the organization using it in their normal daily business communications. The lack of  video call prioritization and inability to configure this application for a high level of Quality of Service (QOS) results in choppy video delivers, de-synchronization of video images/corresponding audio, all of which delivers an unacceptable collaboration experience. Especially when the company is trying to present themselves as a professional organization to their customers, suppliers, partners and even their own employees. The Skype solution is further limited by its inability to deliver “point to multipoint” communications. As soon as you need to add a third party, you’re out of luck. Skype does not allow that kind of collaboration.

The better solution, if the company has already committed to MS Office and Lync , is to use the basic Lync license that comes as an entitlement, and then to use the Cisco (and Mitel Mi-Collab applications or Avaya One-X / Scopia applications) for videoconferencing to get the best of both worlds – COST EFFECTIVELY!  It should be kept in mind that the use MS Lync and their advanced licenses very quickly becomes very expensive relative to our recommended approach.

In contrast, Cisco offers a complete line of standards-based, integrated, and interoperable video solutions including endpoints targeted at every user type— IP phones, desktop and mobile software, personal video devices and sophisticated Telepresence units. These endpoints all share the same Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based call control for voice and video such that placing calls between different users with different endpoints is as easy as pointing and clicking or dialing a phone.

The Cisco Jabber client provides better video quality than similar applications on the same devices, because its video capabilities are optimized for video on both Intel and Advanced RISC Machine (ARM)-based processor platforms. This optimization lets Jabber clients provide HD video on dual-core Windows PCs and at 480p on Apple iPads.

Microsoft’s inconsistent support for industry standards can also create some challenges for enterprise video adoption.  With Lync 2010, Microsoft used a proprietary video codec (RTVideo) which required expensive, third party gateways and MCU’s to support interoperability with the millions of installed video endpoints that use standards-based H.264.

Microsoft is now planning to adopt an extension to the H.264 standard named Scalable Video Coding (SVC) however this new video standard has very little market adoption and is incompatible with the majority of installed standard H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) endpoints that Cisco video solutions can seamlessly interoperate with.

photo credit: @yakobusan Jakob Montrasio 孟亚柯 via photopin cc

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