MCU Capacity Exploration & More for R&E Trends Workshop • Tim Poe • Multimedia Services Architect
About MCNCMCNC is an independent, non-profit organization that employs advanced Internet networking technologies and systems to continuously improve learning and collaboration throughout North Carolina's K-20 education community. MCNC provides advanced communications technologies and support services that enable access to 21st century learning applications and offers the opportunity to improve teaching, learning, research, and collaboration among North Carolina’s education community.
MCNC is faced with a pending dilemma of how to prepare for an anticipated tsunami of video conferencing soft endpoint use.
MCU ports are expensive. We currently pay in the neighborhood of $1,425 per port, per year (3 year life cycle) for standard definition (SD) ports and approximately $2,850 per port, per year (3 year life cycle) for high definition (HD) ports.
The simplest way to accommodate growth is to simply purchase additional SD, HD, or TIP blades, as indicated by growing demand.
Fully integrated with TMS scheduling. • Fully compatible with other Cisco infrastructure. • Fully compatible with internal dial plans. • Fully integrated with voice integration across all MCUs. • Support for standards-based video encryption. • Support for H.239 data sharing. • The 8510 blades can be cascaded together (currently 3 blades, soon 4 blades - cascading ability of like cards). • Fully compatible with internal dial plans. • Highest level of interoperability on the market.
Select Proprietary/Non-H.323/Non-SIP Soft Endpoint with a Lower Per-Port MCU Capability
There are some non-standards software endpoints with their own proprietary MCU solutions that costs significantly less that standards-based MCU ports.
Vidyo. While based on video encoding standards, Vidyo will not interact with standards-based video conferencing infrastructure without a Vidyo Gateway. That said, the per-port cost for Vidyo multipoint infrastructure (including gateway services, multipoint services, and licensing) is approximately $450 per port, per year (3 year life cycle).
In the first example, endpoints dial directly into our MCU, and are cascaded with Vidyo endpoints.
In the illustration, a seventeen-person continuous presence video conference is simulated. Eight of the callers come directly into our MCU through various endpoints. The additional 9 participants shown in the lower right-hand portion of the screen join via Vidyo’s separate multipoint server, which has been bridged to our MCU. This drawback must be balanced against the benefits of managing endpoints with our current infrastructure.
In the second example, all endpoints dial into the Vidyo infrastructure. This provides equal “video real estate” within a multipoint call, and does not require Vidyo “ports” for non Vidyo soft endpoints. However, this solution does not take advantage of the granular control provided by other infrastructure currently in place (TMS, VCS, etc.).
SeeVogh is another product that is generating significant interest. The new user interface currently in beta is particularly noteworthy.
Web Conferencing, etc. • Lync • WebEx • Adobe Connect • Blackboard Collaborate • Big Blue Button
These solutions provide low cost multipoint functionality, but lack standards integration.
Other Web Conferencing Solutions including Adobe Connect, Big Blue Button, etc.
Blue Jeans Network has recently emerged as a service provider, offering minute-based plans for MCU and protocol bridging services. BJN currently bridges calls between H.323 codecs and the following proprietary video and voice solutions: • Skype (with the purchase of at least one Skype multipoint agreement per session). • Google Talk • PSTN (direct telephony dialing) • Additionally, BJN is working on bridging other solutions, including Microsoft Lync.
Blue Jeans Network pricing structure is in many ways similar to that of audio teleconferencing services, which have per-minute charges.
Using Blue Jeans Network • Procure a room. • Create an invitation. • Distribute the invitation. • Join the conference. • Manage the conference.
Managing Your Room • This is, in many ways, similar to managing a session on one of our MCUs.
While the pricing and versatility of BJN is a at first glance, very attractive, there are several concerns that should be noted: • Performance on BJN is sometimes less than optimal, due to lack of I2 peering. • While BJN does allow Skype participation, at least one participant in each BJN call must be a Skype Premium customer (currently discounted at a rate of $4.49 per month). • BJN does not have a cloud located on the East Coast.
The Blue Jeans Network service marks a new and innovative departure from current models of operating video conferencing infrastructure. It is noteworthy to recognize that the support of Skype and Google Talk eliminates the need for MCNC to license soft endpoints. This is important as it reduces costs and removes our role in handling the authentication and authorization issues associated with our deployments of software based endpoints. While the relatively low quality of the BJN user experience likely reduces the appeal of the product as a solution for our needs today, the trajectory of the service should be watched closely.
There may be situations where MCU capacity can not be expanded quickly enough to meet short term demand, or where one-time/short-term events require port expansion for a limited amount of time. Examples include: Internet2 Commons, Glowpoint, AGT Perfect Meetings, etc.
We will continue to use our existing infrastructure, and determine how we can use new innovations, such at Telepresence Conductor to get the best value and functionality possible.
We will carefully evaluate products such as Vidyo and SeeVogh to determine how they may integrate to meet customer needs and reduce the cost of multipoint infrastructure.
We will continue to carefully evaluate the potential integration of Web conferencing solutions.
Conduct additional testing with Blue Jeans Network (and any similar services that emerge).
Continue to look at a variety of issues related to gatewaying, streaming, archiving, etc.
Evaluate emerging products, such as Google+ Hangouts, which may eventually prove to be viable solutions to integrate with our standards-based infrastructure.