Collaboration with Video Conferencing & Web Conferencing

August 13th, 2009 by Larry Dorie Leave a reply »

Web conferencing and Video conferencing continue to be important tools in business communications and collaboration – especially with renewed interest in cutting travel costs and collaboration among disparate workforce personnel. The total communications/collaboration toolkit would include audio conferencing, Instant Messaging/Chat as well as Presence, but this paper will focus on Web conferencing and Video conferencing – what they are and when to use them.

Video Conferencing;

There are three major types of Video conferencing typically used today:

Web cam

Video conferencing


Wikipedia defines Web cam as:

Webcams (web cameras) are small cameras, whose images can be accessed using the World Wide Web, instant messaging, or a PC video conferencing application. The term webcam is also used to describe the low-resolution digital video cameras designed for such purposes, but which can also be used to record in a non-real-time fashion.

Web cam applications can also be termed “Video Chat” in that they are often offered in conjunction with Chat applications. MicroSoft’s Windows Live Messenger is an excellent example as well as Apple’s iChat.

Wikipedia defines Video Conferencing as:

A videoconference (also known as a videoteleconference) is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies, which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. It has also been called visual collaboration and is a type of groupware. It differs from videophone in that it is designed to serve a conference rather than individuals.

Wikipedia defines Telepresence as:

Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location.

Telepresence requires that the senses of the user, or users, be provided with such stimuli as to give the feeling of being in that other location. Additionally, the user(s) may be given the ability to affect the remote location. In this case, the user’s position, movements, actions, voice, etc. may be sensed, transmitted and duplicated in the remote location to bring about this effect. Therefore information may be travelling in both directions between the user and the remote location.

Type Resolution Speed Typical usage/application
Web cam Low Not real-time Viewing thumbnails of people

Uses computer display

Video Conferencing Medium Smooth video Viewing people/teams of people and visual aids such as white boards etc. Uses large displays
Telepresence High Smooth video Provides an “atmosphere” of being in the same room – very large and/or multiple screens

Web conferencing;

There are two methods to deliver Web conferencing and four different usage models:


Hosted – Vendor provides and manages Web based servers. All users access the servers via the Internet and all users are on the Internet. This approach has the advantage of ease of deployment – all the host/presenter does is point a browser to the Web site, download the client software and start the meeting. All attendees do the same – go to the Web site, download the client and join the meeting. The disadvantages of this approach are:

Access security – anybody with the correct meeting ID/password can get into the meeting and the server addresses are very public

Performance – all users use the Internet and this can cause some delays

Pricing – usually a subscription model with on-going costs

Branding -– Hard to “brand” with limited control over branding

On-Premise/On-Premise Appliance – On-Premise is delivered either as software to be installed on the customer’s servers/network or as a plug and play appliance to be installed on the customer’s network.

The software approach does suffer from what can be a complicated installation and the need for on-going IT support to keep the application software compatible with the server operating system and other support software as it gets updated.

The On-premise appliance is much easier to install and, once installed, is maintained remotely by the vendor.

The advantages of On-premise are:

Access security – the owner can control access by their firewall (the site is not “public”) . With RHUB you can also control access by IP address further securing access.
Performance – some users can be on the LAN of the server and thus not need to go over the Internet

Branding ­– Usually quite easy to brand

Integration – This approach offers the advantage of the capability to integrate into other corporate systems so the users can easily start and join meetings. (Start and Join buttons on: corporate Web sites, Audio conference start pages, collaboration tools…).

Usage models:

There are typically four types of Web conferencing applications:

1) Interactive meeting – Whereby the data from computer screens is to be shared and worked on. Where anyone in the meeting can present information from his or her computer and anyone else can control the presenter’s computer as if they were sitting in front of it.

2) Web seminar ­– Typically used when the information on one or a few computers is presented to larger audience and members of that audience just view the information. The audience members have no need to present information from their computers nor control the presenter’s computer.

3) Remote support – This mode is used when one person wants to gain access to and control another person’s computer. The person whose computer is being controlled usually has nothing to do with the meeting other than getting it started. This mode can also be used as a tutorial for training on applications on another computer where the trainer wants the student to also “run” the system

4) Remote access – Used to remotely access another computer unattended. This is an extremely powerful mode for accessing user’s computers that are at the office/home while the user is somewhere else. The meeting is started on the target computer and the user can login to the target computer from anyway and gain full access as if they were sitting in front of the target computer. This is done completely unattended. No one need be at the target computer to initial or accept the meeting/session.

RHUB TurboMeeting Appliance and Web conferencing:

The TurboMeeting (TM) 4-in-1 appliance supports all popular usage models for Web conferencing: Interactive Web conferencing, Web seminar, Remote support and Remote access. Delivered as an On-Premise appliance, The TurboMeeting appliance has all the advantages of On-Premise and includes vendor managed updates that eliminate the need for on-going IT support.

TurboMeeting now supports Webcam for the presenter. This is a “one to many” system in that one Webcam at a time (the presenter’s) can be viewed by all attendees. Many users feel that this is the “just right” use for Webcam – enough to make the meeting more personal but not so much that you have a screen full of talking heads.

In addition, the TM appliance is a TCP/IP based unit that can coexist with other video conferencing systems. For example, Windows Live Messenger can be used for chat and Chat video while TurboMeeting is used for displaying screen information. The user is responsible for positioning the windows on their computer screen but the two systems can run concurrently, each supporting a different aspect of collaboration.

For full Video conferencing, RHUB has a partnership with Polycom and has an integration design that has been tested and certified as compliant with the Polycom system. Polycom provides systems for either Video Conferencing or Telepresence. The TurboMeeting system complements the Polycom system and is used for sharing computer screen data. TurboMeeting can also include people who do not have access to the Polycom system for sharing screen data (reference RHUB’s ARENA Partner Solutions Guide).

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