Archive for the ‘Web Conferencing’ category

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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Virtual Conferencing Trends: 2 reasons why On-Premise servers will beat Clouds

March 1st, 2017

The ability to offer specific services for telepresence and storage of private data could be the winning card that the providers of on-premise server based web conferencing solutions will play to win the game against cloud based solutions.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s latest report, the shift to clouds has been accelerating in 2016 which will lead to a slowdown in on-premise web-conferencing market next years. Will the prediction come true?

In 2014, on-premise video conferencing market held the largest share in terms of revenue (around 74%) and, undoubtedly, this share will decrease next years. However, according to a recent report of Transparency Market Research, even in the most pessimistic scenario servers will be still able to generate over 53% of revenues in 2023. Therefore, on-premise servers seem to be destined to retain their market leadership, despite the growth of clouds.

It is not a case that big firms like Cisco still have on-premise server based web conferencing  solutions in their product lists, and providers  of conferencing services that have massively bet on on-premise technology like R-HUB (http://www.rhubcom.com) are thriving. R-HUB`s suite TurboMeeting in particular is a great example of an on-premise server based product that is competitive in terms of price and performances.

Considering that TurboMeeting costs only around 1000-1400$ on average, we cannot but reject the common reasoning that customers are massively shifting to clouds because of budget considerations.  Simply, the importance of this trend has been exaggerated. Like every new technology, clouds have their moment of glory now; but saying that on-premise server predominance is going to be undermined is against any evidence.

Why is on-premise technology still holding the line? The reasons behind on-premise servers endurance are essentially two: telepresence and security. Telepresence, the new mantra of web conferencing, assures clients an immersive experience during video conferences. Technically speaking, clouds are not the best solution for it; consider, for example, latency:  audio and video requires low and predictable latency times, which makes it easier to manage and distribute video and audio data in systems where the network can be controlled end-to-end. But this is not possible when a company opts for a cloud.

Security is an old issue of any solution that utilizes a common space to store data. Clouds can be as safe as possible, but internet connections are always at risk of being hacked, no matter how many measures are taken in order to protect them. Then, some specific kinds of data require more advanced security than what clouds are able to offer. In these cases, it is necessary to maintain the traditional, but sure, on-premise server based technology.

Two further good reasons to keep away from clouds are:

  • Government regulations: It happens when your data are regarded as sensitive and have to be stored in compliance with specific rules and standards.
  • Accessibility: Some countries restrict access to internet. When there is no government on the way, it is the lack of adequate bandwidth that can create issues.

In conclusion, it is too early to say that clouds are going to outperform on-premise servers in the future. A coexistence of these two systems is more probable, as they have both their pros and cons and in some cases they are complementary.

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I.C.E, or the Three Basilar tips to avoid that your Virtual Conferences work as a Powerful Snooze

February 26th, 2017

ICE: This acronym stands for interaction, color and entertainment. Never neglect these three tips, if you wish to engage the participants of your meetings.

As a big consumer of webinars and virtual conferences, one of the first tricks I learnt is that by simply muting my mic I can avoid being detected while taking  a short nap, since I prevent the speaker from hearing me snoring that way. In facts, the big advantage of virtual conferences on real classrooms is that the speaker cannot see you,  and – honestly speaking – many  virtual conferences are incredibly sleep-inducing.

The point to catch is that running a virtual meeting is tricky, as there is no real contact between the speaker and the audience.  So, it is really hard to understand whether you as a speaker are involving participants or not, and in what measure. This problem, which is common to real life meetings, is exacerbated by the nature of the medium: watching a screen is more tiring than listening to a speaker that physically stands in front of you, and keeping concentration on a distant presenter during a virtual conference is difficult because there are more possible environmental distractions that haunt participants’ minds.

How to assure that your audience is engaged during your conferences? It is enough to follow these three basilar tips that the acronym I.C.E stands for:

I as Interaction.

University lectures are boring, and virtual conferences are not university lessons. So, let’s change format and shift to something more involving, like, for example, dialogues; answering your participants or giving them the possibility to put questions is a quick and easy technique to keep them awake.

C as color

Black and white screens are particularly sleep-inducing. So, choose video conferencing products that assure you and your audience colors and a great HD quality, like R-HUB TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com). Additionally, TurboMeeting offers users a whole set of great tools to engage their audience, like polling, raising hand buttons, desktop sharing, file sharing, and many others.

Accompany your presentations with some colorful slides, photos and graphics. A well-designed slide is a powerful mean to get your idea/information across, as the eyesight is the sense that people use most to learn.

E as entertainment

There is nothing as boring as a monotone tone of voice. Thus, it is important to be able to use the full vocal range. It is also important to mix data presentations with jokes and stories in order to give some moments of rest to your audience. In one word, try to give and have fun while giving your presentation.

In conclusion, a good conference is the result of the interaction between the speaker skills and the quality of the conferencing tool that the speaker uses. If I.C.E will help you to deliver good quality presentations, do not underestimate the importance of having the right product on hand among the dozens available on the market today.

If you are interested in R-HUB`s TurboMeeting, and you would like to get a free demonstration or a free trial, this is possible. Please contact R-HUB (http://www.rhubcom.com) for further information.

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“Users want Single Meeting, Single License”, Frost & Sullivan’s2016 Report says

February 17th, 2017

What used to be audio, video and web conferences in the past has simply become online meetings now.

A key-finding of Frost & Sullivan’s 2016 web conferencing research is user preference for  a single meeting, single license marketing approach. This confirms the intuition behind the design of products like R-HUB’s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) that are able to offer a complete set of services that goes from HD Video conferencing to Audio conferencing under a single license.

In the past, the market of virtual conferencing was characterized by a big confusion in this respect, as the system of per user licenses that was usually adopted by the pioneering companies of this industry made scaling up expensive and difficult.

This is one of the reasons why the trend has been shifting towards more user-friendly license systems. Flat licenses, for example, allow users to add a virtually unlimited number of participants to a conference. R-HUB has adopted this model for its product lines, with the result that making a conference calls on R-HUB’s servers costs more or less the same independently from the number of participants, may they be 3 or 3000.

Other common license systems that we could consider user-friendly are single site licenses and per seat licenses. The first is now usual in web conferencing and allows clients to add a max number of users with unlimited conferencing; in the second, a fix fee is charged for each user independently from the minutes used.

The “single meeting, single license” system is anything else than a single site license that allows clients to utilize all forms of conferencing – audio, video and web. Its convenience for customers is connected to the fact that today’s conferences are much more complex and integrated than in the  past, and it is important to have a tool that can work indifferently in several modalities and through several media.

In other words, we are moving from a concept of conferencing service where web/audio/video conferencing were three distinct services for users to a concept of online meeting where these three media are available at the same time, under the same license and in the same service, so that clients may shift to the medium they need that moment as they please. Will producers be able to take up the challenge and modify consequently their approach to licensing? We will see.

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