I am told that immersive telepresence rooms, indeed telepresence of all flavors, can communicate well among multivendor solutions thanks to the latest industry standards. Yet I am all too familiar with such promises. Usually, when you need to meet the most is when the network, or computer, or tablet, or phone, or display gremlins raise their ugly heads. Please don’t try to tell me my telepresence room will work 100 percent of the time and then try to sell me managed services that are design to make sure calls happen when and where I want them too.
I’m told most tech support issues are user errors and I believe that, but I also listen to Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner Wainhouse Research who cautions that industry standards are good but not perfect. Right now, the situation is “pretty good,” he says.
“Vendors have finally taken this, ‘let people call each other’ [practice] seriously and quite frankly it was ignored for a long time,” Weinstein says.
The key is that the videoconferencing component — the codec — is usually industry standards-based, so the initial connection can usually be made. There is a second level and it is one the industry will be working on for a long time, says Weinstein.
“We’re trying to figure out ways to make sure that all these different camera images know where to go at the far end. How do I put camera No. 1 on screen No. 2 and make it look right? What we have now is we have specific interoperabilities. Polycom and Tandberg systems can talk to each other. Cisco and Polycom can talk to each other. However, there are some other systems, like Teliris — a very good system, but one that doesn’t interoperate as easily,” he says.
So the problem doesn’t have to do with the engine. It is more of a conductor or director problem and a device called a conductor or a video bridge is needed in the middle that takes the signals and sends them to the right people.
Managed services offered by the service provider is the other solution and consists of people outside the company who are devoted to making your meetings work.
“If I’m an end user right now and I buy a Cisco immersive telepresence solution and in another branch, I buy an AVI-SPL Chameleon solution, they will be able to talk to each other. It may be a little additional work on the back end to maintain the immersive experience. But I have to work pretty hard to get something that absolutely doesn’t interoperate today,” says Weinstein.
Still we are still not to the point where you can just call anyone who has a telepresence room and expect that Star Trek experience. I’m told we’re on the path to that point and it will be something to see.