Editor’s note: In our guide to evaluating video conferencing service providers, you learned the key topics to discuss with potential video service providers
to ensure high-quality video services. Here we outline the general operation services provided by video service providers and how to track and adapt to the network demands of working with a video service provider.
Video service providers: General operations
- Global 7x24 operation: Does the video service provider provide round-the-clock operations for your global enterprise?
- Reporting: Determine the type of reporting available to address utilization, billing, trouble ticket status and peak demand.
- Network telemetry: Determine what capabilities your video service provider supplies in terms of understanding the quality of your network for video transport, and also for understanding the quality of the connection between your network and the video service provider.
- Ticketing: Ensure the video service provider has an easily accessible trouble ticketing system that allows your team to submit tickets, provides the appropriate reporting on open tickets for your enterprise and has methods of escalating tickets as required.
- Proactive troubleshooting: Ensure your video service provider has proactive troubleshooting processes to react to the results of maintenance sweeps or network telemetry to resolve video conferencing service delivery issues before they impact your users.
Video conferencing system maintenance
- Endpoint management: Video conferencing endpoints and devices (typically room-based systems or telepresence suites) are managed and maintained by the video service provider. The provider manages network checks, periodic or daily system checks, software upgrades and maintenance (e.g., projector bulb changes).
- Maintenance actions: Understand the process implemented when maintenance issues are discovered. Know the relationship between your video service provider and your video conferencing equipment vendor. Understand who will be providing the maintenance services and how the appropriate components will be supplied.
Video conferencing requirements for the enterprise
Throughout your evaluation process, also keep track of the requirements of your enterprise that are needed to work closely with your chosen video service provider. Some of the issues below may require modification of how you currently do business:
- Dial plan: The video service provider may impose a new video conferencing dialing plan on your deployment.
- Network connectivity: The video service provider needs to establish a high bandwidth connection to support multipoint calls to your enterprise. Ensure appropriate levels of security are in place to protect your enterprise network. It may be possible to deploy an MCU within the enterprise and have it managed by the service provider, requiring much lower bandwidth between the service provider and enterprise. This could mean purchasing the bridge, if your utilization will be high enough to justify its deployment, or it also could mean leasing the bridge from the service provider.
- Setup windows: Service providers that pre-establish calls for meetings require setup times. This may impact the utilization of your conferencing rooms. For instance, because of the required setup time, one-hour meetings cannot be scheduled back-to-back in the conferencing rooms if the second meeting requires video conferencing.
- Conferencing room management: Using a centralized service provider means providing scheduling control of the video conferencing rooms around the enterprise to the central organization.
- Billing details: Understanding the granularity with which the service provider can bill services to the organization may be important if the enterprise is trying to allocate the use cost of video conferencing services to the businesses within the enterprise that are using the service.
Professional video services offerings
Last but not least, your service provider may offer professional services. These services can help with the design of video conferencing rooms, the design of video service delivery processes within the enterprise, training of staff members, training users on the use of the scheduling capabilities or the video conferencing room equipment, network assessment for the support of video conferencing, and AV integration for customized rooms and other requirements. Ask your service provider what capabilities it has for professional services to see what expertise the provider can add to better support your company.
This is a long list, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Many enterprises will only need some subset of this list of capabilities rather than the complete set. It is well worthwhile to engage with a video service provider, especially at the beginning of a video conferencing deployment.
There may be components of the video service delivery that can eventually be brought in-house as the utilization of video services increases and expertise on video service delivery within the company is developed. But utilization of the video will depend heavily on the user's first experience with video services. Using an experienced video service provider can help ensure that initial success. Save cost optimization for the second phase when the enterprise develops an internal expertise.
Don’t miss the first half of our guide to evaluating video conferencing service providers, which provides a comprehensive list of topics to discuss with video service providers.
About the author: John Bartlett is a principal consultant at NetForecast, where he focuses on network support for voice and video conferencing. NetForecast provides consulting to enterprises and networking equipment vendors on application performance and convergence of voice and video conferencing on the IP network. He has 32 years of experience in the semiconductor, computer and telecommunications spaces, and can be reached here.
This was first published in June 2011