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How can IT manage video conferencing interoperability?

Video interoperability is challenging but necessary for today's enterprise. Evaluating vendor partnerships and choosing hardware that supports multiple video services are key.

Managing video interoperability in the enterprise is like a zookeeper trying to get lions, sharks and crocodiles to get along in the same enclosure. The zookeeper must design a space where people can safely interact with the animals, which is a daunting project.

Video conferencing interoperability isn't quite as difficult, but the analogy isn't that far off. Video systems and services can be extremely different animals that don't work well together. But interoperability between services is often requested by users.

IT teams don't want to design meeting rooms to serve multiple video platforms any more than a zookeeper wants to put crocodiles and lions in the same space. The reality is users need interoperability, and they need meeting rooms that connect to multiple services.

Users need to be able to call people on other devices and services. The lack of video interoperability would be the same as choosing Sprint for a phone service and only being able to call other Sprint users. Voice service providers take care of the interoperability behind the scenes. With video, however, it's up to the IT teams to get it right.

Evaluate vendor offerings and support

The first step to addressing video conferencing interoperability in the workspace is understanding the offerings. IT teams have a better chance to design a space that accommodates multiple services if they understand how different video platforms and services work.

The good news is many video services today have some degree of interoperability support. But the bad news is video vendors support interoperability in different ways, and not all of them will mesh with a team's workflow.

Some video vendors are partnering behind the scenes. If a team is using partnered services, ideally, callers will continue to use their preferred service and device. Video conferencing interoperability will work much like telephones, where callers don't see the behind-the-scenes connections.

IT decision-makers should choose video services with simple connections that don't require extra work from users, which could negatively affect video adoption.

Support interoperability with bridging services, hardware

Other options include bridging services, such as BlueJeans, Pexip and StarLeaf, which offer connections between disparate video software. Bridging services work in a variety of ways, but all facilitate interoperability between services.

Today, many hardware devices on the market can run multiple video conferencing services. Traditionally, meeting room video conferencing devices were tied to specific vendor software. Users could call other devices using the same software or use a video interoperability service to connect to another vendor's software. Some newer devices also have touch panels that display video service options, so users can choose their preferred service.

Video interoperability is a challenge and should be approached accordingly. These systems and services weren't traditionally designed to work together any more than lions and sharks are meant to play together.

Fortunately, vendor partnerships and increasingly extensive interoperability services are providing answers. But IT teams have to do research to ensure callers can connect without complicated steps that could turn them off from using video in the first place.

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