Centralized Functionality, Decentralized HardwareEven as some enterprise companies move toconsolidate on a single platform, they seem to bemoving away from centralized recording.
Traditionally, using a centralized managementand analytics solution meant centralizedrecording, where all video and audio signals cameto a central location and then were recorded onone of a series of encoders. Centralized recordingstill makes sense in a traditional educationalsetting where all signals in a classroom buildingcan be routed to a single recording location. Butthe practice is less in demand in the enterpriseand less practical, given the far-flung nature oftraining and corporate communications.Recent products offered a stopgap measure, withcentralized management and distributed recordingbased on a client-server concept where audio, video,and/or VGA recordings occurred on a remote clientrecorder. The input device signals and recorder wereself-contained within a single location—often a keyconference room or an auditorium—and then thefinished recording was uploaded to a centralized server.
The reason this is viewed as a stopgap solution, despitethe benefits of decentralized recording, comes mainlyfrom the inability to verify that a remote recording wastaking place correctly and with the proper inputs.However, newer products can monitor multiplerecordings remotely, controlling the recording from anonline control dashboard. In much the same way that avideoconferencing multipoint control unit (MCU) allowsfor logical control of multiple physical locations, thesenewer streaming and recording solutions allow a centrallocation to start and stop recording and even controlslide advance functions. This solves the "peace of mind"issue that arises during a key event (via "confidencemonitoring" of the remote recorder) and also providesthe ability to step in remotely to check input devices orrecorder functionality.
Another approach to decentralized hardware is theintegration of existing videoconferencing products intoa broader workflow.
Lockheed noted that its initial streaming success ledto the use of streaming in place of more expensiveaudio and videoconferencing equipment, which hadonly been installed in select locations and, therefore,had limited reach. Other companies picked up on thefact that their videoconferencing systems could be usedas ingest points for enterprise streaming content.
QAD QAD’s Scott Lawson says his company is looking forward to using Silverlight, but for nowhe is sticking with Windows Media 9.
"We’re a global company, but our producersare here in the U.S.," says Merck’s WilliamVanderdecker. "We found that we could originatethe content from a local videoconferencing site atany of our global locations and receive it at ourU.S. location for live streaming or on-demandrecording. We also use Tandberg’s Tactical Unit,which is videoconferencing in a suitcase, forremote locations that may not have permanentvideoconferencing capability."
For CA, the ability to tie a videoconferencingsystem into enterprise streaming means thatbusiness unit heads can speak to their groupemployees, regardless of where the businessunit head happens to be traveling that week.
"They videoconference in to headquarters,"says James Lasher, director of AV services for CA, "andwe then take an analog output from the videoconferencingsystem, plug it into Mediasite, and thenencode to rebroadcast."
Accordent has worked together with Tandberg, arecent Cisco acquisition, to make videoconferencingintegration even easier. Besides ad-hoc streaming andarchiving support for an ongoing videoconference,Tandberg has also integrated its scheduler to automatethe streaming and archiving of videoconferences.Besides using an H.323 videoconferencing endpoint asa remote camera and microphone for a centralizedenterprise streaming solution, Tandberg has introducedthe ability to stream and archive live H.239 dualstream presentations (containing both audio-videoand graphics presentations).
Merck Merck keeps its internal communications confidential, but the company uses Accordent’sMedia Management System, which generates reports similar to these, as well as Tandberg’sTactical Unit, which is essentially "videoconferencing in a suitcase.."
Trimming the Player, Increasing Playback Flexibility
Once a business has several years of experience withstreaming media, especially rich-media recording, thedesire to aggregate and track all types of contentbegins to kick in. Managers want to look beyond therigid three-pane viewer.
"The traditional synchronized template is a limitationin terms of its bulk," says QAD’s Lawson, "which is alimitation that we’ve faced as we’ve tried to showsimple marketing videos with these templates."
Fortunately, Flash and Silverlight, as well asstandards-based HTML5 dynamic web interfaces,appear ready to solve these issues with viewers thatcan easily move between a synchronized template viewand a more-traditional playback view. This move helpsto eliminate the concern that systems designed topresent multiple pieces of synchronized informationare very good at synchronized playback but not as goodat presenting—and tracking—simple video clips.