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Site Coordinator Training: VC by VC. Megan Troyer Technology Coordinator The Ohio State University. Peanut Gallery. We are joined by a local as well as a remote audience hosted by OSCnet. Bob Dixon Megaconference emcee is here to share his experiences

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site coordinator training vc by vc

Site Coordinator Training:VC by VC

Megan Troyer

Technology Coordinator

The Ohio State University

peanut gallery
Peanut Gallery
  • We are joined by a local as well as a remote audience hosted by OSCnet.
  • Bob Dixon Megaconference emcee is here to share his experiences
  • Nicholas Thompson will be presenting a few sections
  • This session is only as good as you make it, please chime in with your stories, experiences and questions
  • There are no bad questions!
what is videoconferencing
What is videoconferencing?
  • A real-time, two-way exchange of information between two or more geographically disperse locations using audio, video and sometimes data
  • It is not web conferencing, video chat, web casting, or streaming
different technologies
Different Technologies
  • Standards-based:
    • H.320: videoconferencing on ISDN lines
    • H.321: videoconferencing using ATM connections
    • H.323: videoconferencing over packet-based networks i.e. IP
    • SIP: multimedia multicast transmissions over IP
      • Currently used more in Voice over IP transmissions, but moving into the videoconferencing world
    • MPEG2
different technologies1
Different Technologies
  • Not Standards-based:
    • Access Grid (AG)
    • Virtual Room Videoconferencing System (VRVS)
    • DVTS
  • Most of these technologies have created or are creating interoperability with H.323
conferencing vs broadcasting


Like a telephone call


Call up and answer


Live or on demand

Like watching television


Tune-in or enter URL



Conferencing vs. Broadcasting
  • The United Nations subcommittee International Telecommunications Union-Telecommunications sector ratifies standards for real-time communications technologies
  • Multiple parties and vendors get input on how the standards are ratified and what gets included
h 320 isdn vs h 323 ip
H.320 ISDN

Special Room

High installation cost for connectivity lines

Expensive connectivity costs

Charges to maintain lines

Professional operator

Centrally scheduled and administered

H.323 IP

Any room with high speed Internet connectivity

No connectivity cost once you pay your ISP

Simple, user-friendly to operate

Decentralized control

H.320 ISDN vs. H.323 IP
the h 323 standard
The H.323 Standard
  • H.323 is an umbrella standard that encompasses standards for
    • Audio
      • G.711, G.722, G.722.1, G.723.1, G.728, G.729
    • Video
      • H.264, H.263, H.261
    • Data
      • H.239, T.120
    • Others: Call Control, Directories
a note on video algorithms
A Note on Video Algorithms
  • H.261 is the oldest of the standards
    • ALL H.323 and H.320 endpoints can handle this algorithm
  • H.263 is newer
    • Most newer H.323 and H.320 endpoints can use this algorithm
  • H.264 is the newest
    • Only the newest H.323 endpoints use this algorithm
why is this important
Why is this important?
  • With each new video codec/algorithm come a better means of processing the video
  • Each new codec provides better quality video at lower speeds
  • This means that a 768 kbps call using H.261 video looks as good as a 384 kbps call using H.264 video
  • This can make a satellite-based videoconference look just as good as land-line
pieces of an h 323 system
Pieces of an H.323 System
  • Network
    • The backbone of any H.323 call
  • Gatekeepers
    • A control device for H.323 components
  • Multipoint Control Units (MCUs)
    • Special network devices that allow more than two sites to connect at the same time
a note about h 239
A note about H.239
  • H.239 is the standards-approved means of doing “duo-video” or “people+content”
  • This allows for VGA content to be transmitted through the videoconference at native 1024x768 resolution
pieces of an h 323 system1
Pieces of an H.323 System
  • Gateways
    • Devices that convert other standards to H.323
  • Terminals/Endpoints
    • This is how any site joins an H.323 videoconference
  • Streaming/Archival
    • Bringing content to those that cannot attend either due to time constraints or no H.323 equipment
the network

The Network

The backbone for successful conferencing

wiring and station cables
Wiring and Station Cables
  • Common practice is unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) according to the specs:
    • CAT 3 [old] supports 10 Mbps Ethernet (10base-T)
    • CAT 5 [modern] supports 10base-T, 100 Mbps (100base-TX) and 5e supports 1000 Mbps (1000base-T) Ethernet
    • CAT 6 [new] supports CAT 5 applications +
wiring and station cables1
Wiring and Station Cables
  • Actual wire used and quality of installation may vary widely – know your wiring!
  • Important to consider the station cables
    • Don’t use sub-CAT 5 station cables for 100 Mbps connections.
    • Silver Satin telephone line cords are not CAT 5.
    • UTP and florescent lighting.
ethernet lan
Ethernet LAN
  • 10 / 100 / 1000 Mbps
  • Full- and Half-Duplex
    • Half-duplex: send or receive, one at a time (listens for collision).
    • Full-duplex: send and receive simultaneously (does not listen for collision).
    • 10 Mbps Ethernet supports half-duplex; full-duplex is not consistently implemented.
    • 100 Mbps supports half- and full-duplex.
    • Modern devicescan auto-sense speed and duplex.
lan switches vs repeaters
LAN: Switches vs. Repeaters
  • Repeaters (hubs) are old technology.
  • A repeater sends (repeats) packets that are incoming on one port, out all other ports (I know you’re out there somewhere!).
  • Can only operate in half-duplex mode.
  • Bandwidth and jitter provided to any single device is highly dependent on the LAN traffic.
lan switches vs repeaters1
LAN: Switches vs. Repeaters
  • Switches are the way to go
  • A switch learns the MAC addresses of the devices connected to it, and sends packets directly and only to the target end-point.
  • Provides much more consistent bandwidth and latency (low jitter).
  • A well-designed switched LAN is important for videoconferencing. Repeater-based LANs should be upgraded to switched for videoconferencing!
lan ethernet duplex mismatch
LAN: Ethernet Duplex Mismatch
  • “One of the most common causes of performance issues on 10/100Mb Ethernet links is when one port on the link is operating at half-duplex while the other port is operating at full-duplex.”
lan ethernet duplex mismatch1
LAN: Ethernet Duplex Mismatch
  • “There is a silent performance-killer out there, one so inconspicuous that it is hardly ever looked for or even suspected. You could suffer from it and never know it, as it robs a site of performance but not connectivity. This performance-killer has a name: Ethernet duplex mismatch.”
lan ethernet duplex mismatch2
LAN: Ethernet Duplex Mismatch
  • If one end of a connection (device or Ethernet switch) is set for auto-negotiation, and fails to see auto-negotiation at the other end, the former sets itself to the default, half-duplex.
  • Auto-negotiation can sometimes fail, even when both sides are set to auto (although this isn’t as prevalent as in the past).
lan duplex mismatch detection
LAN: Duplex Mismatch Detection
  • Microsoft Windows doesn’t display the auto-negotiated duplex setting.
  • Some routers re-negotiate auto-speed or auto-duplex, which can introduce jitter.
lan duplex mismatch prevention
LAN: Duplex Mismatch- Prevention
  • Our recommendations:
    • Don’t use hubs for videoconferencing
    • If building wiring is sub-CAT 5, then set switch ports to 10/half
    • If building wiring is CAT 5 or better, then set switch ports and devices to 100/full if supported on switch and device.
  • Provides interface to the WAN.
    • Intranet, commercial Internet, and Internet2 connections.
    • Typically, every networked device at an Internet2-connected institution has connectivity to Internet2.
traffic on the network
Traffic on the Network
  • Typical university today:
    • IP
      • TCP
      • UDP
traffic on the lan
Traffic on the LAN
  • Unicast : one-to-one
  • Multicast: one-to-many
  • Broadcast: one-to-every
  • Most common traffic
  • Common applications: mail, Web browsing, file transfer, etc.
ip multicast
IP Multicast
  • A one-to-many mode of transmission
  • Network numbers through are reserved for multicast.
  • Examples of multicast applications:
    • Vic/rat videoconferencing
    • Centralized PC software administration tools such as Symantec Ghost
ip multicast leak problems
IP Multicast – Leak Problems
  • Beware: high rates of unpruned multicast can adversely affect videoconference performance.
  • Use a network traffic and protocol analyzer to identify this problem.
  • A one-to-every mode of transmission
  • Used by network protocols including ARP and IPX, NetBIOS system discovery, and name resolution.
  • All devices on the network must process every broadcast packet; high broadcast rates can divert processing capacity.
  • If the broadcast domain is too large or unusually active, the activity required at the end-point to deal with the broadcasts could diminish performance.
  • A healthy network should have less than 100 broadcast packets per second.
  • Check using a network traffic and protocol analyzer tool.
  • A firewall is a network node that acts to enforce an access control policy between two networks, e.g., between a university intranet and the commercial Internet.
  • Used to secure IT resources against external attacks and break-ins.
  • Network-layer firewalls typically make their decisions based upon port numbers and source/destination addresses.
  • Application-layer firewalls act as proxies.
  • H.323 uses the IP ports:
    • Statically-assigned TCP ports 1718 – 1720 and 1731 for call setup and control.
    • Dynamically-assigned UDP ports in the range of 1024 – 65535 for video and audio data streams.
  • Firewalls don’t allow unrestricted ports. Typical modern firewalls and H.323 don’t get along so well.
firewalls solutions for h 323
Firewalls – Solutions for H.323
  • [bad; non-scaleable] Allow unrestricted ports for specific, known, external IP-addresses.
  • [better, but still not so good] Use feature of some videoconferencing clients to confine dynamic ports to a specific, narrow range.
  • [OK, but extra admin work] Use an H.323 application proxy.
  • [best] Use a firewall that snoops on the H.323 call set-up channels (static ports) and opens ports for the audio/video (dynamic ports) as needed.
  • Allows multiple computers behind the NAT to share one external network address.
  • Uses:
    • Alleviate shortage of IP addresses
    • Security – obscures view of the network from outside
    • Flexible network administration
  • Not commonly used at universities on the campus level. Used somewhat in corporations. Common in small offices and at home – behind DSL, cable modem, or ISDN network service.
  • Difficult to use H.323 behind NATs
  • Some videoconferencing terminals provide features to work with NAT. Refer to videoconferencing terminal documentation.
  • Think of your private IP address like an internal telephone number. An endpoint outside of your organization will not know what to do with it.
    • 10.x.x.x
    • 192.168.x.x
    • 172.16.x.x-172.31.x.x
solution caveats
Solution Caveats
  • Though many manufacturers will have Firewall/NAT traversal solutions built in to their devices, these are proprietary vendor-specific solutions
  • Polycom’s “Use Defined Ports” only works on point-to-point Polycom to Polycom calls
  • H.460.17, 18, 19 are standards-based solutions ratified into H.323 to standardize Firewall and NAT traversal solutions
h 460 17 18 19 firewall traversal
H.460.17/18/19 Firewall Traversal
  • Works by creating pin-holes
  • Products that follow it
    • Polycom V2IU©*
    • Tandberg Expressway©
    • Radvision PathFinder™
    • Micromethod Horizon™

* Only follows the .18 portion of the whole standard

h 460 17 18 19 firewall traversal1
H.460.17/18/19 Firewall Traversal
  • Solutions that do not follow the standard
    • Direct Packet Research S.T.N.S©
    • Visual Nexus
  • Latency is the time required for a packet to traverse a network from source to destination.
  • Components of latency include:
    • Propagation delay: the time it takes to traverse the distance of the transmission line; controlled by the speed of light in the media; rule-of-thumb: 20ms San Francisco to New York.
  • Transmission delay: the time it takes for the source to put a packet on the network. Rule-of-thumb for general network devices: < 1ms.
    • For H.323 this includes time to encode/decode the video
  • Store-and-forward delay: the cumulative length of time it takes the internetworking devices along the path to receive, process, and resend the packets. Rule-of-thumb: variable, and depends upon network load.
  • Rule of thumb:
    • A one-way delay of:
      • 0 – 150 ms provides excellent interactivity
      • 150 – 300 ms is OK
      • 300 – 400 ms is bad
      • 400+ ms is unacceptable
    • Satellite delay in the “unacceptable” range, but you will find that you get used to the delay
  • Jitter is variation in latency over time.
  • If the endpoints are on switched LANs, then the primary source of jitter is variation in the store-and-forward time, resulting from network load.
  • H.323, particularly audio, is adversely affected by high levels of jitter.
  • What is high? Rule of thumb? No statistics
packet loss
Packet Loss
  • Packet loss is typically due to congested links and routers.
    • 1% is noticeable
    • 5% becomes intolerable
  • Not currently feasible on commercial Internet and Internet2 networks for production, regular use. Internet2 is working on QoS plans, but the current over-provisioned Internet2 network doesn’t dictate need.
  • Is useful on over-utilized intranet WAN links.
  • How:
    • Some videoconferencing terminals can set the IP precedence bits. Use that for marking and priority queuing on the WAN.
  • Or:
    • Use a H.323 Proxy for consolidation of traffic to a single address, router access list for marking, and priority queuing on the WAN.
  • Caution!
    • The wrong implementation could result in unwanted tradeoffs, e.g., packet loss improves but jitter gets worse.
the end to end performance problem
The End-to-End Performance Problem
  • Scenario
    • Users on two different campuses of a university are experiencing poor video and audio in a conference.
    • Each user is supported by a different group of videoconferencing engineers.
    • Each campus is supported by a different group of network engineers.
    • The wide-area network is supported by a third group of network engineers.
the end to end performance problem1
The End-to-End Performance Problem
  • Problem
    • How do the users get timely, useful assistance?
    • How is network problem resolution coordinated?
the end to end performance problem2
The End-to-End Performance Problem
  • Obstacles
    • Different groups, schedules, and priorities.
    • No one engineer has a complete understanding of the entire network path.
    • No one engineer can gain access to all the network nodes (routers, switches) along the path to inspect for trouble.
    • Communications are inconsistent from engineer to engineer.
the end to end performance problem3
The End-to-End Performance Problem
  • Solutions
    • Articulate the E-2-E problem to network management and engineers on all campuses.
    • Establish reliable communication tools, and insist that engineers utilize the tools.
    • Hold regular meetings; bring all engineers together in one place and time to share information.
    • Have good network documentation for all networks.
e2e recommendations
E2E Recommendations
  • Develop a close relationship with the network engineers and NOC. Make sure they understand what’s being done with videoconferencing and the network sensitivity of IP-based video.
  • Articulate the End-to-End Performance Problem to network engineering and operations management. Champion ways to reduce the problem.
e2e recommendations1
E2E Recommendations
  • Have engineers in the videoconferencing support group trained to understand networking issues and tools.
  • Be sure to open trouble tickets with your NOC so that a problem history is maintained.
h 323 is network sensitive
H.323 is Network Sensitive!
  • The big problems are:
    • Half/Full-duplex mismatches
    • Packet loss
    • Jitter
    • Substandard horizontal wiring or station cables
    • Multicast leaks
    • High broadcast rates
videoconferencing over a satellite network
Videoconferencing Over a Satellite Network
  • Satellite networks are inherently highly latent
    • You cannot beat the speed of light
    • Your connection is traveling over 50,000 miles
  • Be prepared to speak and wait and to ask others in your conference to do the same
  • While initially difficult to communicate, you and the other site (or sites) will become accustomed to the delay after a few minutes of conversation
networking recommendations
Networking Recommendations
  • Use switched Ethernet.
  • Watch out for duplex mismatches.
  • Keep an eye on utilization of WAN links, packet loss, and jitter.
  • Make sure you don’t have broadcast or multicast leaking problems.
  • Make sure wiring is up to the task.
special thanks
Special Thanks

Some information on the network slides courtesy of

Doug Pearson

Indiana University


David Devereaux-Weber

University of Wisconsin-Madison



Bringing control to your fingertips

what is a gatekeeper
What is a gatekeeper?

Physically it is a server that can be located anywhere on the network

Functionally very similar to a DNS server that does Address lookup

Adds some control functionality

Creates an “H.323 zone”

h 323 zone
H.323 Zone
  • Definition
    • A single gatekeeper and all of the end points (clients, MCUs, and gateways) that register with the gatekeeper.
  • Typically is a community
    • E.g. University or organization
gatekeepers provide
Gatekeepers Provide:
  • Admission Control
  • Call Authorization
  • Address Translations
  • Bandwidth Management
  • Zone Management
  • Call Signal Routing
  • Management Functions
typical gatekeeper components
Typical Gatekeeper Components
  • Gatekeeper Core Functionality
  • Web Server Management
  • SNMP Services
basic operation
Basic Operation
  • Endpoints register with gatekeeper
    • This is a one time administrative task
  • Endpoint asks gatekeeper for permission to place call to another endpoint
  • Endpoint signals call with other endpoint
  • Endpoints exchange media directly
  • Endpoints disconnect, notify gatekeeper
technical description
Technical description
  • Uses TCP port 1720, UDP Port 1719, 1718
    • 1720 for Q.931 call control
    • 1719 H.225 Registration, Admission, and Status messages (RAS)
    • 1718 GK discovery
  • Deals with H.225, H.245, Q.931
    • H.225: RAS as above but also call control and call setup messages
    • H.245: Media control and Transport signaling
gatekeeper functionality
Gatekeeper Functionality
  • Services:
    • Gives access to multipoint conferences and gateways
  • Neighbor Gatekeepers:
    • Provides inter-zone communication
  • Network Topology:
    • Allow administrator to employ traffic shaping
gatekeeper functionality1
Gatekeeper Functionality
  • Endpoints:
    • Live list of registered users
  • Call Control:
    • Live list of active calls
    • Handy when you consider doing upgrades
client authorization
Client Authorization
  • Open Gatekeepers
    • anyone can register
  • Predefined Endpoints
  • LDAP Authenticated Endpoints
configuration considerations
Configuration Considerations


Can neighbor with everyone individually

Join a dialing plan

Choose a registration mode

Open, predefined, open with restrictions

Choose a routing mode

Direct, Call Setup, Call Setup and Call Control


Provides access to MCU conferences and gateway

Configure LDAP link (Optional)

  • Multipoint Conferences
  • Gateways to other services
    • ISDN
    • ATM
    • Telephone
internet2 commons and oscnet specific settings
Internet2 Commons and OSCnet specific settings
  • Adopted GDS
    • Only need two neighbors
      • North American Root main:
      • North American Root alternate:
  • GDS serves as Dial Plan
  • Open registration mode
  • “Direct” routing mode
internet2 commons specific settings
Internet2 Commons specific settings
  • Services are 001189 + XXX + YYYY
    • XXX digits to identify MCU and conference
    • YYYY digits for a specific users conference
  • Have not adopted LDAP or H.350
  • Currently is a Radvision ECS
    • 500 concurrent calls, 3000 concurrent registrations
gatekeeper to gatekeeper communication
Gatekeeper to Gatekeeper Communication

Like with telephones, it is possible to “call out” of your local system if your system is connected to the “outside world”

Before GDS, we used neighbor tables and individual exit codes for each gatekeeper that we had defined in our gatekeepers

As more and more organizations installed gatekeepers, neighbor tables became larger and more difficult to manage

gatekeeper to gatekeeper communication1
Gatekeeper to Gatekeeper Communication
  • Then the Trans European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA) came up with a plan to use a hierarchy of gatekeepers
  • Zone prefixes and extension numbers are defined by the national managing agent - usually the National  Research Network (NRN) in that country
  • ViDe also joined in the adoption of this plan
video development initiative
Video Development Initiative
  • Video Development Initiative (ViDe)
    • Founded by representatives from universities and education networks
    • Interests include deploying scalable, standards-based digital video architecture and services for use in research and higher education
    • Co-sponsors workshops and digital video projects with the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Internet2, the Coalition for Networked Information, and leading industry consortia
global dialing scheme gds
Global Dialing Scheme (GDS)
  • A structure for peering between gatekeepers, such that any endpoint associated with a ViDeNet zone may dial an endpoint in any other ViDeNet zone
  • ViDeNet Version 3 Dial Plan
  • A numbering plan for global video and voice over IP
four parts of a gds number
Four parts of a GDS Number
  • International Access Code (IAC) always 00
  • A Country Code (CC)
    • Follows the ITU international access code system
  • An Organizational Prefix (OP)
    • In North America, ViDeNet lets you chose between E164 space and Super Space (more later)
    • Some countries use area code/exchange prefix
  • An Endpoint Number (EN)
    • A unique number assigned to each endpoint following organization practices
  • GDS numbers are dialed: IAC CC OP EN (without the spaces)
north american numbering scheme
North American Numbering Scheme
  • The North American node of the Global Dialing Scheme utilizes an enhanced version of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) to distribute addresses
  • The address space is divided into two parts: North American E.164 Space and North American Super Space
    • E.164 Space correlates to existing telephone number assignments
    • Super Space utilizes unused NANP address space starting with 0 or 1 to create an address space that is separate from existing telephone numbering addresses
e164 space
E164 Space
  • Based upon the ITU-T e.164 telephone number assigned to the current subscriber of a range of telephone numbers
  • For example, if a university held +1.919.226.6100 through +1.919.226.6199, then that university would be eligible for the GDS prefix 00191922661. That university could assign the remaining two digits to endpoints 00-99
  • Aside from maintaining direct inward dial (DID) capability for endpoints, there is no reason to limit endpoint numbering to two digits
super space
Super Space
  • Prefixes in North American Super Space (NASS) addresses are of the form: PX9
    • P is a 0 or 1
      • No North American area code starts with a 0 or a 1
    • X is a variable length string of digits consisting of any digit between 0 and 8
    • 9 is used as a delimiter
      • Internet2 Commons: 189
      • Ohio State “Free Love”: 1109
gds at the internet2 commons
GDS at The Internet2 Commons
  • The IAC is 00, CC is 1
  • For the OP, Internet2 requested Super Space, and was assigned 189
  • For the EN, we use your ten-digit telephone number
    • If you have more than one videoconferencing station and only one telephone number, follow the ten digits by another integer
  • Gabe and my telephone number is 614-292-8443 and the GDS dial number of our office endpoint is:
    • 00 1 189 614 292 8443 (spaces for readability only)
benefits of gds
Benefits of GDS
  • Provides a static address in a dynamic world
  • If you have a DHCP IP address, your GDS number can stay the same
  • If you travel, your GDS number can travel with you
  • All Internet2 Commons Conferences have GDS Dial Strings
gatekeepers available on the market
Gatekeepers Available on the Market
  • Standalone Gatekeeper
    • (e.g., RADVISION ECS)
  • System Blade
    • (e.g., RADVISION ECS on a blade of a ViaIP)
  • Embedded in an Endpoint
    • (e.g., A gatekeeper embedded in a RADVISION OnLAN MCU or gateway)
  • Backup Gatekeeper
    • (e.g., RADVISION Alternate Gatekeeper)
gatekeepers available on the market1
Gatekeepers Available on the Market
  • Other Gatekeepers:
    • Polycom PathNavigator
    • Cisco (RADVISION code running on Cisco IOS)
    • VCON Media Exchange Manager, MXM
    • Tandberg Gatekeeper
    • GNU Gatekeeper (Based on Open323)
thank you
Thank you
  • Larry Amiot, Northwestern University
  • Tyler Johnson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Gabe Moulton, Ohio State University
multipoint control units mcus

Multipoint Control Units (MCUs)

Bringing many together at once

multipoint control units hardware vs software

Dedicated, real-time operating system

Generally work well


Polycom (Accord)





Most based on Windows or Unix OS on a server

Processor speed catching up to make them more reliable

Multipoint Control Units: Hardware vs Software
mcu control functions
MCU Control Functions
  • Defining a conference
    • Ongoing conference or scheduled
    • Connection Speed
    • Number of connections allowed
    • Voice Switched (VS) or
    • Continuous Presence (CP)
      • Many different layouts
  • Operating a conference
    • Dial In versus Dial Out
mcu control functions1
MCU Control Functions
  • Monitoring a conference
    • Check to be sure it is fully attended
    • Mute unruly participants
  • Monitoring an MCU
    • MCU Status reports
  • Cascading MCUs
    • MCUs calling MCUs for really big conferences
mcus available in the market
MCUs available in the market
    • Up to 100 ports at 384k VS
    • Powerful, reliable; ECS Gatekeeper
    • Gatekeeper required for dial in, but not dial out
  • Radvision Scopia
    • Chassis-based system or stand alone box
    • Not sure on need of gatekeeper
  • Tandberg
    • 16 ports at 384Kbps
    • Many advanced features
mcus available in the market1
MCUs Available in the Market
  • Polycom MGC (used to be Accord)
    • 48 ports VS at 384 kbps per H.323card
    • Expandable multi Format capable
    • Many advanced features; no Gatekeeper necessary
  • Codian
    • 20 or 40 ports at any speed
    • Built in live streamer
    • Utilizes Far End camera control
radvision via ip
  • 4 flavors 15, 30, 60, 100
  • 384Kbps capacity by type
    • 15  12
    • 30  24
    • 60  42
    • 100  70
  • Support for SIP
  • Can add gateway cards
  • Chassis based system, expandable
  • Gatekeeper based dial in, can call out by IP
  • No built-in reservation capability
radvision scopia mcu
  • Newest MCU offerings from RADVISION
  • Blade-style technology in multiple chassis form factors
  • The combination of blades in the system will determine the capacity in standard and high definition
  • Built in web server for configuration
polycom mgc
Polycom MGC
  • 3 Flavors, 25, 50 and 100
  • Capacity varies by configuration
  • Support for H.264
  • Can support ISDN, IP and ATM
  • Separate Software control
  • Priced by configuration
  • Built-in reservation capability
tandberg mcu
Tandberg MCU
  • 16 users, 3 simultaneous conferences
  • Support for H.264
  • Embedded Encryption
  • Supports ISDN and IP
  • Embedded web server for control and configuration
  • Small 1U form factor, 19” Rack-mountable
codian mcu
Codian MCU
  • 6, 12, 20, 30 and 40 port Standard Definition
  • 12, 20, 30, and 40 port High Definition
  • Embedded web server for control and configuration
  • Built-in streaming available for conferences
  • Direct IP-based dialing and Gatekeeper-based dialing
    • For IP-based dialing you need to take Far end camera control or use DTMF tones
  • Small 1U form factor, 19” Rack-mountable
hd mcus
  • Radvision, Codian, Tandberg and Polycom all have HD support on their MCUs
  • Some will require new hardware or software to run HD
  • Definition of “HD” videoconferencing depends on the manufacturer, usually 720p with 30 fps (720p = 1280 x 720 pixels)
  • The Commons Polycom MCU is HD-capable
commons mcu testbed
Commons MCU Testbed
  • Three MCUs are available for testing and discussion
    • Polycom MGC 100
    • Codian 4240
  • The Commons will support remote or onsite (you come to Ohio) testing
  • Useful for assisting in evaluations for your own purchases


Getting two different technologies to talk to each other

  • Take one technology and make it work with another
    • ISDN to IP (H.320 to H.323)
    • ATM to IP (H.321 to H.323)
    • SIP to IP (SIP to H.323)
    • Any combination of the above technologies
gateways available
Gateways available
  • Standalone box
  • Special card for blade-style MCUs/Gatekeeper
  • Build it yourself
  • Dual function endpoint
stand alone gateways
Stand Alone Gateways
  • Typically a rack mount box with inputs for different types of lines (ISDN, ATM or IP)
  • Web interface for administration
  • ISDN Gateways can take either BRI or PRI lines
    • BRI=Basic Rate Interface or 64 kbps per line usually coming in pairs
    • PRI=Primary Rate Interface or 23*64 kbps per line typically transmitted over T1 line
blade style card
Blade Style Card
  • Will take up space that could also be used for other technology
  • ISDN Blades
    • Most take a PRI line
build your own gateway
Build Your Own Gateway
  • Take one endpoint capable of the first technology
  • Allow the user of that technology to call this endpoint (or call out to them)
  • Connect the video out cables to the video in ports of and endpoint of the second technology
  • Allow the user of the second technology to call this endpoint
build your own gateway1
Build Your Own Gateway
  • Not scalable
    • You would need a separate set of endpoints for each user of each technology
  • Expensive
    • The equipment either needs to be dedicated or set up each time they are needed
    • ISDN lines carry expensive line charges and connection fees
dual function endpoint
Dual Function Endpoint
  • Use an endpoint capable of both technologies that has a built-in MCU
  • Have user of each endpoint call in using their technology
  • If multi-point, use built in MCU if enough capacity or if not, call into an external MCU
streaming and archival

Streaming and Archival

Delivering content to those without H.323 or for later review

  • The one-way delivery of digital content from a streaming server to a streaming client in a continuous, paced, and controlled flow
  • Alleviates the need to download an entire media clip as a file
    • Live events don’t exist as a file yet
    • Allows playing to start before download is completed
streaming a videoconference
Streaming a Videoconference
  • Streaming a videoconference makes it possible for any number of people to view a conference – either live or recorded for on-demand access
  • Viewers use desktop computers with standard media players such as Real, Windows Media, or QuickTime
what can i do with streaming
What Can I Do With Streaming?
  • Key individuals participate by videoconference
    • A larger audience views the live stream
  • Save the proceedings of a meeting
  • Make a class or lecture available on-demand for later student review
how to stream a videoconference
How to Stream a Videoconference
  • All-in-one solutions
  • Videoconferencing endpoints with built-in H.26x/G.7xx multicast streaming
  • Combination of videoconferencing terminal and standard streaming encoder
all in one box
All-In-One Box
  • Can exist anywhere on the network
  • Repackage the H.323 content into a stream that can be interpreted by QT, Real, or WMP
  • DO NOT optimize for streaming
  • Examples:
    • Virtual Rooms Videoconference Service (VRVS)
    • Codian MCU or IPVCR—has H.239 support
terminals with built in streaming
Terminals with Built-In Streaming
  • Some high-end terminals such as
    • Polycom FX
    • Tandberg 880
  • Can multicast the H.26x/G.7xx audio and video in QT, Real and/or WMP
  • No ability to record for VOD
  • Can be a burden on the local network of the device
combo endpoint and encoder
Combo Endpoint and Encoder
  • Two standard devices…
    • H.323 videoconference endpoint
    • Streaming encoder
  • Are interconnected
    • A/V out of H.323 endpoint into A/V input of encoder
  • Encoder can be just about anything
    • Real, Windows Media, QuickTime; or MPEG-1,-2,-4; unicast or multicast
  • Video can be recorded and stored for VOD on server
combo endpoint and encoder1
Combo Endpoint and Encoder
  • Combo Endpoint and Encoder can be complex to manage
  • Have to schedule and manage the encoder
    • Videoconference scheduling systems don’t support viewing the pair of devices as a single logical device
  • MediaSite has a device that can be combined with an endpoint that can capture both the VC and H.239 if that is part of the conference.
streaming quality
Streaming Quality
  • Combo Endpoint and Encoder uses optimized-for-streaming encoding formats
  • Both All-In-One Box and Endpoints with Built-In streaming repackage video and audio which is not optimized for streaming
h 323 endpoints

H.323 Endpoints

An end-user’s view of videoconferencing

three basic types of endpoints
Three basic types of endpoints
  • Room systems
  • Desktop systems
  • Software-based systems
room systems
Room Systems
  • Most will need a display device
    • Monitor, projector, etc
  • Mostly set-top boxes
  • Some can be rack-mounted
  • Some take multiple inputs for video
    • Multiple cameras
    • VGA/Scan converter
    • Document camera
room systems1
Room Systems
  • All come with an intuitive GUI Interface
  • Almost all use remote controls or some other external interface
  • Most have one or more external microphone
  • Most hide the “administrative” features from the end user
    • Many will password protect the administrative interface to avoid users changing settings
room system examples
Room System Examples
  • Polycom VSX line
  • Tandberg 880 or 990
  • VCON HD line
    • HD does not mean High Definition in this case
  • LifeSize
    • No support for H.261 video
  • VTEL IPanel
desktop endpoints
Desktop Endpoints
  • Have built-in processors to handle some of the video encoding
  • Most will rely on your PC’s monitor or will have a built-in monitor
    • Some with the built in monitor can take the place of your current monitor or be used for dual screen
  • Best to use only if you have one to three people at your site
  • Very few have external inputs for VGA, external cameras, etc.
desktop endpoints1
Desktop Endpoints
  • Many have “strong arm” focusing which can be difficult to get the focus exactly correct
  • Becoming less popular and expensive compared to software endpoints on today’s faster processors
  • Most desktop endpoints with built in monitor are aimed at the “Executive” level
desktop endpoint examples
Desktop Endpoint Examples
  • Polycom ViaVideo, ViaVideo II and VSX 3000
  • VCON ViGo
  • Tandberg 1000
software endpoints
Software Endpoints
  • Most work only with Windows OS
  • Rely on your monitor for displaying video
  • Use USB or Firewire webcam for capturing video
    • A decent USB webcam will cost about $100
  • Most software packages run in the $150 per endpoint range and offer a free trial period download
example software endpoints
Polycom PVX

XMeeting (OhPhoneX)

Runs on Mac OSX

VCON vPoint HD


Example Software Endpoints
software endpoint evaluation
Software Endpoint Evaluation
  • Compared compatibility issues between different software endpoints and other H.323 devices
  • Also small evaluation of USB webcams available
environmental considerations

Environmental Considerations

Getting you and your space ready for videoconferencing

setting up for a videoconference
Setting Up for a Videoconference
  • Clothing
  • Lighting
  • Back Drop
  • Audio setup
  • Large Conference Room considerations
  • Solid color shirts
  • “Busy” outfits blur when on camera
  • Simpler patterns aid the video compression
  • Soft white frontal light
  • Standard overhead lights can cast shadows—especially if the user wears glasses
  • Think of TV studio lighting
  • Camera can not focus in low light—keep this in mind if you use a projector
  • No hard lines or complicated patterns
  • Can use a dry erase board, but be aware of glare
  • Solid darker color is ideal
    • Avoid red backgrounds they can be hard on the viewing site
  • Give audience one thing to focus on—YOU
  • Good idea—use a sign to indicate your location
audio setup
Audio Setup
  • Keep the microphone away from where the speakers are located
    • This can cause audio loop back
  • Test audio levels ahead of time
    • Make a test call
    • Use built-in features of the endpoint to test
audio setup1
Audio Setup
  • Make sure microphones are away from extraneous noise generators
    • Air conditioners
    • Laptop/Projector fans
  • May need to add echo canceling hardware
    • This is less common as endpoints become MUCH better at handling audio
large room considerations
Large Room Considerations
  • Position the camera to see the primary speaker and audience
    • May want to add additional cameras
  • Good lighting
  • Designate locations for Q&A with microphones
  • Avoid panning the camera too much
    • Use endpoint “presets”
other considerations
Other Considerations
  • Plasma burn-in
    • Many endpoint use icons while in a call
    • These icons can lead to burn-in on the plasma screen
  • Projectors
    • Newer, brighter projectors (3000+ lumens) are plenty bright to have room lights on during videoconferences
videoconferencing etiquette

Videoconferencing Etiquette

Make every conference an enjoyable one

plan your videoconference
Plan Your Videoconference
  • Send the agenda and handouts in advance
  • Allow a few minutes for call setup and shut down time
  • Stick to the time limits
  • Unplug room telephone or turn off the ringer
be considerate
Be Considerate
  • “Can you hear me, can you hear me?”
  • Remember to mute your microphone when you are not talking to the group
  • Use a location banner and name tags in case you are not on a first-name basis with the others in your conference
  • Take turns speaking and allow time for audio delay
be considerate1
Be Considerate
  • Don’t Multi-task on camera
  • Be aware of possible audio distractions if your microphone is not muted
    • Coughing
    • Paper rattling
    • AC units, Laptop and projector fans
  • Don’t bring food unless all sites will be eating
tips for getting started
Tips for Getting Started
  • Provide an overview workshop for new users to learn basics
    • Share rules of etiquette
    • Get experience using the remote control
    • The importance of muting
tips for getting started1
Tips for Getting Started
  • Publish and distribute print materials or create a website describing basic equipment use and listing the site coordinator’s contact information
  • Emphasize simple practices like having a clear meeting agenda, muting the microphone, and how to use the remote control
test test test
Test, test, test
  • Test with every location thoroughly
    • Testing will help address equipment and networking issues in advance
  • Testing provides experience and creates a positive end experience
  • Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will
why we test
Why We Test
  • A student had a thesis defense
  • Moved from the planned, tested location just prior to a videoconference
    • Original testing went fine
    • Far site moved their unit just moments before the conference was to begin
    • Nervous presenter waited while new problems were corrected
site coordinator duties

Site Coordinator Duties

What is expected of you

be your organization s videoconferencing liaison
Be Your Organization’s Videoconferencing Liaison
  • Work with the people in your group to assist with scheduling and testing
  • Establish relationship with your users and best practices for your group
  • Work with other site coordinators at other organizations
  • Work with users in conferences you schedule to be sure they can connect
  • Make nice with your organization’s network administrators
    • They can be your best friend in making H.323 really work for your organization
troubleshooting point to point videoconferences
Troubleshooting Point to Point Videoconferences
  • Make sure the network is up to the task
    • Eliminate Firewall or NAT as troublemaker
  • Make sure both endpoints are turned on and have valid IP addresses
    • Some endpoints have built-in hub and if the Ethernet cable is plugged in here, it will not work
    • Most will give an indication that they have a valid IP address, but they can be wrong
    • Make sure you have link lights
troubleshooting multipoint conferences
Troubleshooting Multipoint Conferences
  • Number 1 support call: “I can’t get into the conference”
  • Make sure all sites have followed the directions
  • Make sure you have the timing down
  • Make sure all sites are registered to a GDS Gatekeeper
  • Double check your speed and what you dialed
follow directions
Follow Directions
  • Commons Dialing Directions come with a date and time (with time zone) reminder and directions like:
    • Register with a GDS Gatekeeper, if you need to borrow space go here:
    • Make sure you are connecting at 384 kbps
    • Dial 001189 700 1234 (no spaces)
    • Call 614-292-xxxx for technical support
timing is everything
Timing is everything
  • Time zone confusion can be problematic
  • Don’t be surprised if your Tuesday conference is empty on Wednesday, or simply wont let you in!
registering with a gatekeeper
Registering with a Gatekeeper
  • Many new users have never done this
  • Typically an administrative chore and requires administrative access to the endpoint’s settings
  • This does take a few minutes and can require some rebooting, so be prepared
  • If your campus is already GDS, make a note of that on the cheat sheet in VC room
how to register with the commons gatekeeper
How to register with the Commons Gatekeeper
  • In your videoconferencing endpoint unit, navigate to the H.323 settings menu
  • Enter your email address as your endpoint’s H.323 Name
    • This gives administrators some idea of who is registering and from where
how to register with the commons gatekeeper1
How to register with the Commons Gatekeeper
  • Assign yourself an E.164 number in this format
    • 001189 + your 10 digit phone number
    • If your phone number is (111) 555-0000, your GDS number would be 0011891115550000
    • Your endpoint's system may need to be rebooted.
how to register with the commons gatekeeper2
How to register with the Commons Gatekeeper
  • Navigate back to the H.323/Gatekeeper setting
  • Enter the following IP address:
    • Again, your endpoint may need to be rebooted
  • Congratulations! You should now be registered with the Internet2 Commons Gatekeeper
again why should i use gds
Again, why should I use GDS?
  • Achieves a static address or number in dynamic world
    • If you move your system around from room to room on DHCP network, you can always be called using the same number
  • Allows for “long distance” dialing without having to change Gatekeepers
  • Facilitates use of MCUs by people in different organizations or countries
global dialing scheme
Global Dialing Scheme

The Global Dialing Scheme (GDS) provides a structure for peering between gatekeepers, such that any endpoint associated with a ViDeNet zone may dial an endpoint in any other ViDeNet zone.


check your speed
Check your speed!
  • Some MCUs will not let you in if you dial at an incorrect speed
  • Some will only give you partial connection
    • Only audio
    • Only video
    • Frozen image
  • Faster is not always the best way to go!
check your digits
Check your digits!
  • One added or missing number may put you in a completely different place
  • Some MCUs have predefined meeting “rooms” where a mistyped dial string will cause fail to connect
  • You do not enter the spaces in a GDS dial string, the spaces are for readability like the parenthesis and dashes in telephone numbers
is your polycom lying to you
Is your Polycom lying to you?
  • Polycom ViewStations have a really great feature that will tell you your IP address is good
  • THEY LIE!!!
    • If you have a hard-coded IP address, it will automatically tell you that it has an IP address even if no network cable is plugged in
    • Sometimes they’ll lie if they’re set up for DHCP
solutions to the lying polycom
Solutions to the lying Polycom
  • Be sure a network cable is plugged into the correct jack and look for link lights
  • Make sure the jack you are using can give you the IP address you want
  • Try DHCP, registering to a Gatekeeper, or rebooting
    • Be sure to record the current settings for later use
do you have a firewall or nat
Do you have a Firewall or NAT?
  • Firewall + H.323 = Bad
  • NAT + H.323 = Bad
  • Firewall + NAT + H.323 = Bad
still can t get in
Still can’t get in?
  • Some endpoints require you to specify for them to dial by IP or LAN
  • Is your endpoint ISDN or ATM?
    • You will need a gateway to convert your signal to IP and back
  • Check to make sure the Ethernet cable is plugged into the right place
    • Some of the older Polycoms have an Ethernet jack AND a hub port
okay now i m in but it looks terrible
Okay, now I’m in but it looks terrible!
  • Do you have enough bandwidth?
    • A dedicated T1 for video might not be enough
    • Say you have 4 endpoints all videoconferencing at 384 kbps
    • 4 * 384 kbps = 1536 kbps which is your WHOLE T1 and that doesn’t allow room for overhead
    • Network congestion can cause a poor videoconferencing experience
  • Did you check your duplex settings
    • Duplex mismatch is the “silent killer” of videoconferencing
another word on etiquette
Another word on etiquette
  • Remember to mute your microphone
  • Try to stay in the frame of the video for the other end’s pleasure
    • There’s nothing more distracting that looking at the top of someone’s head or out their window
  • Cut down on visual and audio distractions in the room
    • Air conditioners, fans, and poor mic placement
    • Busy backgrounds and clothing
and never forget
And never forget…
  • Test
  • Test
  • TEST!!!
how to become a certified site coordinator

How To Become a Certified Site Coordinator

What you’ve all been waiting for!

take the final exam
Take the Final Exam
  • Go to
  • Fill out the form there
  • The Common-Tech Support Team will receive the form, send you an email, and ask for some more information that is not on the form (on purpose)
who can be a site coordinator
Who Can Be a Site Coordinator?
  • Anyone who has taken this course
  • Anyone who currently works with videoconferencing on their campus and wants to self-certify
    • For a list of required knowledge to self-certify see
  • You DO NOT need to subscribe to The Internet2 Commons to become a Certified Site Coordinator
some excellent resources
Some excellent resources
  • Look for the ViDe Videoconferencing Cookbook
    • This used to be required reading for this course
  • to sign up for the Megaconference Mailing List
  • and Site Coordinator Mailing List
    • You will be signed up to the list when you take the final exam
ohio supercomputer specific information

Ohio Supercomputer Specific Information

Our two groups will now split and we have just a few more topics to cover.

the internet2 commons

The Internet2 Commons

How to put it to use for your organization

what is the internet2 commons
What is The Internet2 Commons?
  • A production H.323 bridging service
  • A test bed for new videoconferencing and collaboration tools
the internet2 commons mission
The Internet2 Commons Mission
  • Promote and facilitate remote collaboration throughout the Internet2 research and education community by means of innovative and integrated, standards-based Internet technologies
  • Build on useful technologies to create collaboration services that are: sustainable, scalable, and affordable
  • Push developers to interoperate and listen to our users
internet2 commons h 323 service
Internet2 Commons H.323 Service
  • MCUs one hop from Abilene
  • OARnet/OSU’s expertise and help desk
  • Streaming and archiving
  • $2,000 for 300 port hours
why should i join the commons
Why Should I Join The Commons?
  • You have need of bridging multiple H.323 sites for distance education, bringing in branch campuses, town meetings, etc
  • You have your own MCU or bridging service and you want overflow or back-up service
how to join h 323 service
How To Join H.323 Service
  • Go to
  • Fill out the form
  • Take this class
  • Videoconference away!
what does the commons get you
What does the Commons get you?
  • Mature technology, accepted standards, multiple vendors
  • Advanced features in multiple MCUs
  • Ad hoc/scheduled conferencing
  • Streaming/archiving of conference
  • Help! when you need it…and before
  • Some of our subscribers have administrative access to our equipment
requesting use of the commons
Requesting Use of The Commons
  • Only subscribers can schedule conferences on the Commons MCUs
    • We do still have one MCU available on a first come, first served, ad hoc only basis
  • Right now requests are handled either by the submission of the form or over the telephone
request using the web form
Request Using the Web Form
    • Password protected
    • Password sent upon completing subscription
  • Form is emailed to the Internet2 Commons NOC at OARnet
    • You will receive a confirming email with connection information
email the request
Email the Request
  • Send to
  • Include:
    • Date, start time, end time, time zone
    • Your contact information
    • Connection speed
    • Number of sites
    • Select VS or CP and layout
    • Streaming request
thank you1

Thank you

I expect my inbox to be flooded with Site Coordinator forms!