Challenges of Video-over-IP

“We have enough bandwidth, that can’t be the problem”

ERP systems, terminal servers, Citrix, streaming, email, chat, video, VoIP, file services, etc. Company networks are teeming with dozens of applications that compete for the available bandwidth. This determines the data transfer rate, and thus indirectly influences the speed at which employees can work. High investment in networks is therefore easy to justify: with hundreds of employees, even a 5% increase in process speeds will quickly add up to days and weeks. IT managers are measured by this success. This often explains managers’ reluctance to implement additional services such as video conferencing over the network. For individual administrators, new services usually mean more responsibility and more work. New servers must be maintained and new dependencies must be considered.

DEKOM understands these critical success factors for video implementation, and involves all of the project’s stakeholders right from the planning phase. It is vital that we speak the same language as those involved at each level: management representatives will require different knowledge and information than perhaps a firewall or domain admin.

From a technical perspective, the challenge of a Video over IP solution is the correct balance between available bandwidth, quality of service and security considerations, as well as the quality of later video connections. Network services are not generally aware of each other, and assume that the bandwidth is exclusively at their disposal. In unsupervised environments without an administrator, working on a fileserver for instance will cause ERP applications to run more slowly for all users, or a video conference between the board and an important partner to suddenly drop out.

However, despite this challenge, it is still relatively easy to assess a single location. In multinational companies, which may have hundreds of sites, the demands increase steeply. Instead of straightforward Ethernet connections, there are VPN and MPLS connections with local Internet gateways, WAN optimisers, firewall ports, etc. In this case, the specific features of all network components in use must be taken into account and their suitability for Video over IP investigated. This comprehensive network analysis across all layers is one of DEKOM’s success factors.

The bandwidth needed for video connections is difficult to predict. It takes considerable experience to be able to correctly estimate overbooking factors, simultaneous conversations and the net bandwidth used. QoS alone is not a solution for this.

A comprehensive overview of our customers’ industry-specific security needs also helps us to configure network connections so that they are compliant with relevant policies. Unlike other IT service providers, video conferencing specialists look not only at data security, but also call security - after all, what is the use of secure data if potential attackers can access information via a video conference picture? Without security, it doesn’t take a hacker to obtain direct access to the executive board - just a video call.