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Cloud Video Solutions

Cloud Video Conference  Solutions

The Cloud – that’s all you read about today

Big Data, Cloud, and Hosted solutions! 

 

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VideoConferenceGear.com was an early adopter of cloud based video conferencing solutions like Zoom and we believe that cloud based video conference software  are the most cost effective and easy to install solutions to enable face to face video collaboration today.

You can download software, plug in a high quality, high definition video conference camera and speaker phone into a PC and be on a video call within minutes!   Whether you use your laptop and add a better camera, or a room based PC you literally can join a video conference meeting instantly with our solutions.

VideoConferenceGear.com offers several cloud based solutions from Zoom, LifeSize, Ubiety - built on the award winning Acano platform that offer great value, scale for any size organization and provide security.

We suggest you consider these questions when determining if a cloud based videoconferencing solution is right for your organization:

Do you have the skills to maintain the solutions?  If you purchase premise based video conferencing systems, do you have the resources and internal knowledge to maintain them or require a managed service and maintenance which adds cost.

Is your business seasonal? Cloud based videoconferencing allows you to add capacity as needed without significant or any capex expense. 

Are you opening a new office?   The cloud enables rapid deployment of new services and video is no exception.  VideoConferenceGear.com’s low cost highly affordable room kits enable you to add new video rooms quickly. 

This discussion from the Former US Transportation Department CIO Nitin Pradhan explains why the cloud is so important.  We especially like his helpful tips for successful video conferencing!

Better Videoconferencing In The Cloud  as featured in InformationWeek

Former US Transportation Department CIO Nitin Pradhan discusses why advanced HD desktop videoconferencing systems are a smart choice for enterprises, and offers 12 tips for using them effectively.

A critical part of the CIO's job is to keep the enterprise's technology environment up to date and relevant. When it comes to communication, most CIOs have focused on upgrading email systems and bringing in VOIP telephones -- but many have missed the boat on desktop videoconferencing.

A more convenient and efficient alternative to traveling, videoconferencing is becoming a preferred way to conduct both one-on-one and group meetings. It allows employees to participate in a more relaxed and comfortable setting, whether they're working from home or in the office. Live video feeds allow participants to interact in real time. This leads to increased involvement and stronger personal connections. Within the enterprise, videoconferencing can also reduce time spent walking between campuses and buildings. Better yet, recent advances in videoconferencing technology make it more appealing and cost-effective than ever.

Why conference room videoconferencing often fails
When I served as CIO of the US Department of Transportation, many of our conference rooms were equipped with videoconferencing technology. I observed first-hand why these systems failed.

First, videoconferencing equipment is expensive and can be difficult to use. Without dedicated support staff at meeting time, meeting organizers often have trouble using the systems. Even when the system works properly, participants in other locations must have complementary systems.

Then there are the scheduling conflicts and equipment limitations. Users who want to conduct a virtual meeting must compete for conference room resources with users holding in-person meetings. Since most videoconference meetings use only one camera that generally focuses on the speaker, the reactions of other participants are lost. Alternatively, panning the camera renders most of the meeting's participants unrecognizable.

Finally, there's the issue of time spent going back and forth to the conference room and in setting up and testing the videoconferencing equipment before meetings. This is simply not the best way to develop an effective videoconferencing strategy.

Desktop videoconferencing: here to stay
Enterprise desktop videoconferencing -- in which each user attends the videoconference using his or her business desktop or laptop and a webcam -- is a smarter alternative.

For many users, the image and reputation of desktop videoconferencing has been skewed by their audio/video experiences with free Skype and similar products. While Skype performance has improved under Microsoft -- especially with the new Xbox One system -- it is not, in my opinion, an enterprise-grade product with management controls.

As for current leading players, Citrix GoToMeeting and Cisco WebEx, they make meetings appear somewhat artificial, perhaps because these platforms were built as webinar products. They added videoconferencing features later.

Next-generation cloud videoconferencing
My current favorite videoconferencing product? Zoom Cloud Meetings, developed by Silicon Valley-based startup Zoom, which counts more than 5,000 businesses and 900 universities among its customers.

The Zoom cloud platform combines HD videoconferencing, mobile collaboration, and simple online meetings. It was built with desktop videoconferencing and mobile users in mind. Zoom is easy to use and requires no training, and is attractively priced for business customers. Based on our research at GOVonomy, Zoom's platform would be an ideal fit for federal, state, and local governments to use for inter- or intra-agency communications and for interacting with businesses and citizens virtually.

Zoom offers HD voice, video, and content sharing, along with anytime, anywhere, any-device videoconferencing. Enterprises can use it on desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, and H.323/SIP room conferencing systems. It allows up to 100 participants from anywhere and offers Web streaming (still in beta) for up to 1,000 people. Participants can choose either a full-screen or a gallery view (multiple participants on screen), with dual streams for dual monitors. The product allows screen sharing, annotation, private and group messaging, and iPad whiteboarding.

Users can use Zoom for on-demand meetings or use it to schedule meetings. It includes a meeting reminder tool as well as MP4 and MA4 recording capabilities with company branding. It also offers user management, reporting, and encryption. After using it for a year, it has become my go-to communications channel for important discussions, even before email and the phone.

Ready to scale up your enterprise with a great cloud-based videoconferencing system? Here are some suggestions to help you implement and utilize videoconferencing most effectively in your organization.

 

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12 tips for successful videoconferencing

1. The Webcam dictates the image quality. For the best image quality, use a top-notch camera. I use the iMac's built-in camera (which works great for me). For enterprises looking for alternatives I recommend Logitech's HD Pro Webcam C920, which offers 1080p widescreen video calling and recording. Also, don't forget to keep the camera lens clean.

2. Microphones matter. For best results with mobile phones and tablets, use a Bluetooth microphone, a wired headset, or a clip-on microphone that has noise-cancelling features and a wide pickup frequency range. Mute your microphone when it's in listening mode, and conduct videoconferences from quiet, indoor meeting spaces.

3. Light up your face. Good lighting is critical for high-quality images. Experiment with lighting by moving it around. Avoid having direct sunlight on your face or behind you. 

4. Optimize bandwidth. Insufficient bandwidth can kill desktop videoconferencing quality -- as well as your employees' enthusiasm for it. Bandwidth problems result in the skipping of videoconferencing images and decreased window size. Be sure to enhance bandwidth to the computers you plan to use for desktop videoconferencing. Consider connecting a wire line wherever possible. Wireless users should install a signal booster and stay close to the wireless router.

5. Reduce the burden on CPU and memory. Videoconferencing is extremely CPU- and memory-intensive. Don't do any processing, downloading, or other heavy lifting on your computer while you're on a videoconference, and close all unnecessary applications to improve memory resources.

6. Stop picking your nose! You might feel like nobody is in the room, but someone is always watching when on a desktop videoconference. Pay attention to what you do. Don't yawn, clean your ears, sneeze, or cough into the camera. Above all, don't pick your nose. (Believe me, I have seen many people do it.)

7. Check your background. Walls, furniture, and desktop items appear very clearly on desktop videoconferences. Make sure your background is clean and appealing, and adjust the mirror effect to optimize the look. A plain, light-colored background with your company logo visible generally looks best.

8. Speak to the camera. Most videoconference participants speak to the person on the screen -- avoid this tendency and speak to the camera directly instead. This is most noticeable when incoming video is projected on a large TV screen, but outgoing video is captured via the desktop in front of you.

9. Eliminate background noise or echoes. If you hear background noise, echoes, or feedback, mute your microphone to see if it corrects the problem. Determine whether you or others have called by phone and by computer simultaneously into the same meeting from the same location, since that can cause interference. Remove nearby electronic devices, especially phones or other wireless devices.

10. Learn the videoconferencing system beforehand. Be sure you understand and have practiced using your videoconferencing system well ahead of time -- not minutes before or during the meeting. Download the desktop video client and make sure it installs. (Many enterprise security settings require permission to install it.) Learn its chat function. Try out the whiteboard. Select and deselect the camera or microphone. The more you know, the better you will look.

11. Dress to impress. Wear clothing you would normally wear for an in-person meeting. Royal blue, burgundy, purple, and gray generally contrast well with a light-colored background. Avoid complex designs that the webcam cannot pick up effectively.

12. Practice, practice, practice. Record yourself using the system and critique your presentation. With a little effort, you'll find that videoconferencing will help you improve your presentations in both the virtual and the physical world. It will save your company travel expenses too.

Nitin Pradhan is a former CIO of the US Department of Transportation; founder of Public Private Innovations, a growth accelerator focused on the public sector; and co-founder of GOVonomy, an organization that identifies, assesses, and introduces innovative technology products and services for the public sector. GOVonomy does not invest in companies whose products Pradhan writes about. It invites companies to submit their innovative products/services for consideration for GOVonomy and future columns.