Archive for March, 2017

Web Conferencing services for law firms: Better Private Clouding or On-Premise Servers?

March 21st, 2017

For law firms, private clouding for web conferencing is a trendy and tempting solution, as it merges scalability and multi-tenancy with high levels of security and the possibility of keeping direct control over one’s own data. But is private clouding really cost-effective compared with on-premise server based solutions? The answer is: “It depends on the provider”.

After the affair of Panama papers, the need of transmitting and storing data in a way that assures law firms the highest level of security has become more urgent than ever.  This involves directly web conferencing, as the quantity of sensitive data that are transmitted through virtual conferences and calls is huge, and the trend is on the increase (Frost & Sullivan’s 2016 report on web conferencing market).

Presently, the two technical solutions that offer the best in terms of security are on-premise server based services, like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) , and private cloud   conferencing services, like OmniJoin (http://brothercloud.com) . Some big IT industries like Cisco are able to offer both technologies (http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/conferencing/web-conferencing/index.html).

What makes the difference between these two technologies? The level of security is high in either case. What changes is their prices and, with specific reference with OmniJoin, their performances: this service is available in the US only and, therefore, it cannot support big law firms that work at a global scale.

Coming to outline the features of TurboMeeting servers, we must say that they are real plug-and-play machines that offer a highly integrated, all-in-one solution for web conferencing that embodies software, hardware, IT maintenance and upgrading. In other words, TurboMeeting replies the kind of service that it is possible to get from private clouding. It is highly scalable,thanks to its flat license policy; but the most cloud-like feature it has is that TurboMeeting has a fixed and predictable cost, a virtue that has been always much appreciated by managers.

There is need of neither devoted rooms and server cabinets, as R-HUB`s web conferencing servers are small and very silent devices that can be put on the shelf of a bookstore, nor  IT teams,  as upgrading is performed directly by R-HUB`s technicians  from remote. An interesting feature of TurboMeeting suite is the huge variety of services that its servers support. They go from HD audio and video conferencing to teleconference and remote pcs access and support. Prices start from $995.

The alternative to TurboMeeting is Cisco’s WebEx meetings servers, a private cloud based, cost-effective and behind-the-firewall solution that complies with the highest standards of security. Like TurboMeeting, it combines audio, video and web conferencing in a single solution and it is necessary to bring some hardware inside the firm (typically an edge server).  An important difference is that WebEx servers do not include remote pc support/access.

While the performances of Cisco’s WebEx meetings servers and R-HUB`s TurboMeeting servers are more or less similar, the difference lays in the price. Although Cisco does not publish the prices of its servers, it is not difficult to guess that they must be higher than TurboMeeting, as Cisco’s on-line conferencing services are sold at $69 per month now. However, Cisco’s advantage on R-HUB could be its longer experience and the global coverage that reaches even China.

In conclusion, private cloud based and on-premise server based web conferencing solutions offer, more or less, the same. Price is often the only distinguishing feature. So, it can be a good rationale to make a choice.

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Web Conferencing: Some few good reasons to keep away from Cloud-based Solutions

March 19th, 2017

Clouds – with their sequel of weird acronyms like SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, to finish with the DaaS –have become the new mantra of web conferencing industry. But are cloud-based solutions always helpful? Do not take the answer for granted. Let’s see some few issues connected with the cloud technology that could lead you to opt for an on-premise server based solution eventually.

Last year, I met a web designer in a co-working place that utilized some cloud-based web conferencing services to communicate with its customers.  I discovered that he often had to cope with server hangouts, overloaded bandwidth, poor quality of connections, and other technological hitches. It depended in part from the local infrastructure of the co-working place, in part from the remote networks from which the web conferencing services that he were using were distributed. I realized abruptly that even cutting-edge technologies have their flaws, and that it is important to be able to distinguish between illusions and delusions, when the time comes to make one’s own choice.

For example, cloud based services have some hidden costs that fatally come out when you least expect it. A big problem is connected with the power of your connection: especially HD video conferences stream a lot of data and consume big quantities of bandwidth. So, there is no point in getting connected to the most powerful cloud-based web conferencing service, when you live in a rural area or in a place where the pipe that connects your office to the cloud is narrow.  And if you need to equip a remoted ranch or farm with a fast internet connection in order to enjoy the advantage of cloud-based services, you could discover that a traditional on-premise server -based conference call service costs less and works as well.

One of the main problems of providers of cloud-based web conferencing services is the high cost of the outbound bandwidth from cloud servers. They often sneakily translate this cost upon their customers, by setting specific limitations to the use of their services in combination  with  the obligation to subscribe a business plan( that is far from being inexpensive)  on those who wish to enjoy the full  range of tools and features  of the product.

So, if you compare the offers of different providers of web conferencing services, you will find out that only basic plans are cheap, and that when the time comes to get something more powerful and reliable, it is necessary to pull out the money from the wallet and buy a business or premium plan. And if you compare the business plans that cloud-based web conferencing service providers offer with on-premise based web conferencing solutions , like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) , you will immediately find out that the latter not only cost less, but it also offers much more in terms of security, reliability and easiness of implementation.

In conclusion, do not take for granted that a cloud-based web conferencing solution is automatically fit for your needs and makes you save money. Mantras work in Tibet, not on the global market, where it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of every single decision.

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Why does Video Conferencing beat Telepresence?

March 15th, 2017

Operability, affordability and flexibility will ensure web conferencing supremacy over telepresence still for long.

Is telepresence going to really undermine video conferencing in the future? Probably not. In facts, the most traditional technology to communicate remotely has more than one string to its bow, despite the pessimistic views of some experts.

First, video conferencing offers a wider range of deployment options and a richer set of tools to interact with participants. In facts, users can choose among web based solutions (like GoToWebinar), software to install (like the traditional Skype) , or on-premise server based solutions like, for example, R-HUB`s suite TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) or Cisco’s servers.  Each of these technologies has its pros and cons; the point to understand is that you have choice. And freedom is so much a matter of choices, after all.

In comparison, telepresence is quite rigid. It happens frequently that the software licensed to your company does not work, when it is interfaced with the software of another company. Plus, the graphic interfaces of telepresence software are simple, not to say very basic. The tools to interact with the audience are usually missing. This could become a real problem when the time comes to fulfil some simple but crucial tasks, like sharing documents or files.

To say it in other words, telepresence has a limited operability. It is true that it assures you a great sensorial experience that makes your virtual meetings look as they were real, but the price to pay in terms of missing functionalities is high.

Second point, telepresence costs an arm and a leg, usually hundreds more times than video conferencing. This makes it more a luxury toy for top-level multinational executives than a tool designed to help the man in the street.  This is the reason why budget-conscious organizations still keep themselves stuck to the old, but practical, video conferencing.

Naturally, telepresence performances are better; though, consider that on the other side producers do their best to improve their video conferencing products. The outcome is that the difference between a good HD video conferencing solution, like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting, and telepresence has become thin. Unfortunately, this does not have to do with the price; while you can bring a R-HUB server home with less than $2000, the prices of the cheapest telepresence systems start from $60000.

The third drawback of telepresence is the lack of flexibility. An increasing number of users need to conferencing in from their mobiles today. This is the reason why a good conferencing system must offer a huge variety of options, from the outdated audio conference calls to the immersive experience assured by cutting-edge giant color monitors. Well, this is not possible with telepresence.

In conclusion, the blasted trend toward telepresence could be illusory in a world where the number of small organizations with tight budgets is increasing and mobile users as well. But the future is full of surprises; in next years, we will see what aces in their sleeves telepresence producers have to play.

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Make your Virtual Conferences look like real life Meetings through Telepresence

March 14th, 2017

Telepresence assures conference attendants  a fully immersive, totally interactive and absolutely distraction-free experience . That really makes the difference with traditional video conferences. For these reasons, this technology is gaining ground in global companies environment. 

Imagine to be sitting at your desk and to be speaking to a customer at the opposite side.  His voice, appearance and size are absolutely like in the reality, despite the fact that he is remote and speaking through a monitor. This perfectly describes telepresence, one of the emerging trends envisaged by Frost & Sullivan in their latest survey on the web conferencing market.

The name speaks by itself, being it a combination of the suffix “tele” – far – with the substantive “presence”. So, it means literally:“Being present from distance”. Now, an objection rises immediately: what makes the difference with traditional video conferences? Have not they the same function as telepresence, after all?

The trick is the so-called telepresence effect, the ability of rendering voices and faces exactly like in the reality. This is obtained through the utilization of huge HD monitors and appropriate conferencing services and products, like, for example, R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com/v5/video-conferencing.html) , a suite of high quality on-premise servers purposely designed  to assure users the best possible experience with their virtual conferences.

Through an ordinary video conference,  it is impossible to get the same level of realism of telepresence: one problem is the size of PC screens, that is too small; other problems  are connected to the needs  to have high quality HD color images and sounds, without which the telepresence effect is immediately lost.

The second important keyword to catch is the immersive experience that is possible to get through telepresence. Watching an icon-sized image of somebody talking to you through a small screen is much different from the stunning sensation of having a remote speaker standing right in front of you like in the reality.

In other words, telepresence immerses you so much in your virtual conference that the barrier between what is real and what is virtual becomes so thin that we may consider it as being not existing.  Do you feel perplexed? Simply pay a short visit to the above-linked page and have a look at the images to get persuaded.

Why shall we use telepresence? The main benefit is the end of distractions, one of the most annoying problems of traditional video conferences. Another benefit is an increased level of interaction, which is obtained through the high level of visual and audio clarity that only telepresence ensures. This goes far beyond even the best traditional HD video conferencing service, as not only does it rely on the quality of the web conferencing software that is being used, but also on the utilization of  big monitors and some other technological equipment.

These are the two reasons why telepresence has become popular in many enterprises.  In a global world, meetings are fatally destined to go virtual, with subsequent urgent need for technologies that can ensure a level of interactions as close to the reality as possible. Telepresence does exactly that, and it does it better than ordinary video conferencing.

What about its costs? This much is true, that it is not exactly what they call an inexpensive technology. LifeSize, for example, offers systems starting from 65000 $, Cisco from $350.000. R-HUB TurboMeeting is probably the most affordable solution, as you can buy a R-HUB server with less than 2000$.

With TurboMeeting, you will have then to add the prices of monitors and other pieces of equipment to the bill. But you will bring a high-quality telepresence system home without spending an arm and a leg. Plus, you will have a level of security that only on-premise server based web conferencing solutions ensure.

In conclusion, telepresence is one of the most interesting technologies for global companies. It assures users highly interactive and fully immersive meetings that are not as far from those that they have in the real world.

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What are the differences between Telepresence and Ordinary Video Conferences?

March 2nd, 2017

Telepresence has become a trendy word. But how does it differ from ordinary video conferences? The immersive experience that only telepresence can ensure is the key to learn to use the two terms correctly.

What is telepresence about? Isn’t it anything else than a new word that stands for video conference? No, the answer is wrong. Telepresence cannot be considered as a mere synonym of video conference, as the difference between the two media is real and substantial.

In order to have an idea of what telepresence looks like, simply have a quick look at the web site of R-hub (http://www.rhubcom.com) a provider of solutions for video and audio conferencing, particularly at the page where there is the introduction to their products for HD Video conferencing  (http://www.rhubcom.com/v5/video-conferencing.html).  The photo in foreground will give you immediately the idea of what telepresence is.

What makes the difference with an ordinary conference is:

  • You feel as the remote user was actually sitting right in front of you, even though he or she is in another continent. It is necessary to utilize a great amount of technology to reach this goal: a special conference room with big HD screens is usually arranged for the specific purpose; the image of the remote person is reproduced in several monitors (R-HUB TurboMeeting supports up to 8 monitors) set around the observer; last point is video quality, as flat images or – even worse -black and white images will break the magic and disrupt your conference.
  • According to some people, the term telepresence includes also telerobotics, or robotic telepresence. This is a technology to control a robot via wireless networks and perform remote operations. What does it have to do with the first acceptation of the term? In my opinion, nothing; but this is it. But there are some people that use the term in this way.
  • Video streaming quality. It must be seamless and in high definition. Therefore, teleconference requires to be supported by reliable and well-built systems, like on-premise server based solutions. Web app could show issues and should be avoided.

In conclusion, telepresence assures users the experience of immersion which is not possible to get during an ordinary video conference via Skype on your iPhone. It needs many more resources, from a dedicated room with HD giant monitors to reliable web conferencing solutions. Being it expensive, it is limited to some specific uses, as lessons for virtual learners, surgical operations, and the meetings of the board of administration of a company.

If you are interested in telepresence and web conferencing, please visit R-HUB web site (http://www.rhubcom.com), where you are going to find additional resources and information about this interesting topic.

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