Deploying telepresence, video conferencing in the WAN to save companies money

The current tight economic times mean businesses must be more productive. Telepresence video conferencing is a proven productivity and creativity enhancer. Read part four of the e-Book, 'The Ultimate Guide to Gaining Control of the WAN,’ to learn more about telepresence video conferencing.

Part four of the e-Book, The Ultimate Guide to Gaining Control of the WAN, shows that enterprises can save money by using telepresence video conferencing rather than pay the travel expenses of having employees meet or collaborate face-to-face. Navigate the table of contents to read other sections of this e-Book or skip below to learn how the wide area network (WAN) can support telepresence video conferencing.

Table of contents
Part 1: Save WAN costs with branch office server consolidation
Part 2: How to accelerate encrypted traffic using WAN optimization
Part 3: Virtual desktop infrastructure problems solved by WAN optimization
Part 4: Using the WAN for telepresence, video conferencing
Part 5: Using WAN optimization for bandwidth management and monitoring
Part 6: Update network security architecture during server consolidation
Part 7: Wide area network optimization: Do it in-house, or use a WAN service provider?

Telepresence, video conferencing and collaboration on the WAN

The current tight economic times mean businesses must be more productive. Collaboration is a proven productivity and creativity enhancer. The problem with face-to-face collaboration is that traveling for live meetings is both expensive and a time waster. The solution is more collaboration, like unified telepresence video conferencing using the WAN. Unified communications, including collaboration and telepresence video conferencing tools, can provide enterprises with significant cost savings and an increase in worker productivity but create more traffic on the WAN. The effects of tools such as Web conferencing, social software, document sharing, white boarding and team workspaces can be managed using WAN optimization. Collaboration using video must be treated differently, however.

Collaboration puts a premium on a high-functioning WAN.

-- Robin Layland, president of Layland Consulting

Telepresence video conferencing allows meetings over the network to have the same look and feel as being there. Even lower-resolution video conferencing is better than a traditional phone call. Collaboration puts a premium on a high-functioning WAN. There is no way to avoid upgrading WAN bandwidth to support telepresence video conferencing because it requires megabits of bandwidth. WAN bandwidth optimization techniques such as dictionary compression and protocol improvements do not help with video. Video is already compressed as much as it can be, and there are no problems with the protocol used.

WAN optimization can help if an enterprise is using telepresence video conferencing that is static rather than a real-time collaboration. Some WAN optimization controllers (WOCs) have limited content delivery networking (CDN) functions built in and can store video locally. Thus, when multiple users view it at different times, the video doesn’t have to be resent over the WAN each time. This helps primarily with video such as training and corporate announcements. Another feature found on WOCs is the ability to know whether several people at a site are watching or participating in the same video stream.

The data center WOC will send only one stream to the WOC at that site, and then the local WOC sends the stream to each of the viewers.

The reality is that WAN optimization can do little to reduce the impact of video on the WAN. If a real-time collaboration project including video is planned, WAN managers must be sure that necessary bandwidth increases are part of the proposal. The primary challenge is to support all the traffic generated by collaboration without affecting other mission-critical business traffic.

Continue reading part five of this e-Book to learn more about using WAN optimization for bandwidth management and monitoring.

About the author:
Robin Layland is President of Layland Consulting. As an industry analyst and consultant, Robin has covered all aspects of networking from both the business and technical side, and has published over 100 articles in leading trade journals including NetworkWorld, Business Communication Review, Network Magazine and Data Communications. Prior to his current role, Robin spent a combined fifteen years at American Express and Travelers Insurance in a wide range of jobs including network architect, technical support, management, programming, performance analysis and capacity planning.

This was last published in November 2010

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