Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Video - a top focus for Sametime 8.5

In our first post on Sametime 8.5, we focussed on online meetings. It's our belief that existing web conferencing tools aren't more widely used because they are too cumbersome. How often have you lost the first 10 minutes of a meeting trying to get everyone into the conference? Or lost time explaining how to hand over control to another user? Sametime 8.5 goes a long way towards addressing the usability of online meetings. Similarly, we believe that, despite tremendous technical advances, desktop video is under-utilized as a form of business communication. Our customers tell us they are concerned about:

1. The quality of video experience on the desktop, especially at the edge of the network
2. Bandwidth overload and network protection – legitimate fears exist that video bandwidth consumption may overwhelm networks if not managed correctly.
3. The high fixed cost of traditional room video systems
4. The lack of interoperability between desktop and room systems, either of which may be based on proprietary codecs.

The key to unlocking the potential of video as an everyday business tool is integrating it into the user's collaboration-enabled desktop through open standards. Like Meetings, it needs to be so easy and so available that its use is a "no-brainer". Users should be able to smoothly move between text, audio and video chats at any time. It should be easy to incorporate existing room and high-definition systems with desktop video for a seamless experience. And IT needs the tools to appropriately manage their networks. With Sametime 8.5, we're introducing a completely new media infrastructure to make all of this possible.

What’s new in Sametme 8.5 for audio / video?

  • Improved audio and video client user experience integrated into both Sametime chats and meetings.
  • A new SIP-based Media Server to act as a single integration point for both chat and meetings, routing audio and video between Sametime clients.
  • Much easier direct connection between Sametime desktop video and IBM business partner SIP-standard video end points and video conferencing media control units.
  • Enhancements to our audio/ video API's that will enable better control of 3rd party telephony, audio and video conferencing systems during a call or conference.
  • Improved NAT firewall traversal support, using industry standards (ICE/STUN/TURN).
  • Improved standards-based video codecs (H.264) and audio (G722.1), leading to reduced bandwidth and improved quality.
  • Support for larger video display formats including HD video display if required.
  • Better policy management contols.
  • Easy escalation to audio and video from a Sametime IM chat or a Sametime online meeting.  

Of course, Sametime 8.5 is only the beginning of this journey. Future releases will see additional capabilities designed to ease desktop audio and video deployment concerns. We're looking at more efficient standards-based codecs and new technologies to provide greater control over bandwidth management.

Where are you on your video deployment journey?  Where does video matter  most to your organizations? Do you see new opportunities for video to improve collaboration? What adoption barriers are you trying to overcome?