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  1. 1. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think Ready for Every Desktop Today and In High Definition Tomorrow Jon Arnold, J Arnold & Associates Table of Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 The Desktop Video Conferencing (DVC) Value Proposition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Desktop Video Conferencing Market Adoption and Enabling Trends . . . . . . . . . . 3 Managing the Complexity of DVC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Global IP Solutions – an Engine to Drive DVC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Introduction Video conferencing, in various forms, has been with us for many years, but has never shown as much promise as today. We are now seeing a favorable alignment of trends driving both supply and demand that translates into a promising market opportunity, not just for having more cost-effective solutions, but for providing better ways to collaborate. These developments hold true for all varieties of video conferencing, but in particular, desktop video conferencing (DVC). To date, this market has been limited due to immature technology which has produced poor end-user experiences. However, the underlying technology enabling DVC has evolved to the point where it can now deliver a quality end-user experience. As good as this experience can be today, it will be even better in the near term with the advent of High Definition (HD) desktop video conferencing. This white paper has been prepared to explain the value proposition behind desktop video conferencing, especially in conjunction with other solutions, such as telepresence. Supporting this is an analysis of the trends that create the momentum we believe will make desktop video conferencing as ubiquitous as PCs themselves, and even mobile phones in the years to come. Finally, the paper outlines the complex challenges around desktop video conferencing, and the role that Global IP Solutions (GIPS) plays to enable a high-quality end-user experience. This applies not just to today, but beyond, as desktop video conferencing moves forward to support enhancements such as HD and mobility. The Desktop Video Conferencing Value Proposition Desktop video conferencing holds an inherent appeal on many levels. However, DVC is far from ubiquitous, despite the fact that the vast majority of people use a PC, both at work and at home. Today, most video conferencing activity occurs in the business environment, often in a boardroom or conferencing facility. These video conferencing solutions are based on expensive and complex technologies, and while delivering a high-quality experience, are not accessible to most employees. However, they certainly have distinct merits, and must be considered to fully understand what DVC has to offer, and why its potential is just beginning to be realized.
  2. 2. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued We see DVC as sharing a continuum with two other basic forms of video conferencing—immersive and boardroom. All three solutions can deliver a high-quality experience, but as one moves from left to right along this continuum, they generally become less complex, less expensive, more flexible and more accessible. Immersive/Telepresence Boardroom Desktop Video Conferencing At the far left of the continuum is immersive video conferencing. This is the most sophisticated form of video conferencing, and is often called “telepresence.” Not only are the images life-size, but the visuals are very crisp—often in HD, the audio is crystal clear, and the video is nearly flawless. However, to make this experience possible, these systems require a highly customized, dedicated meeting room, and a completely managed IP link between locations. They are also very costly to create, as well as support, and tend to be closed systems without the ability to connect to other solutions. While price points will come down and interoperability will improve as these technologies become more mainstream, they will not be affordable for most SMBs any time in the near future. Moving to the middle of the spectrum, we come next to boardroom video conferencing. This is the middle ground between immersive and DVC, and represents the vast majority of the existing market. These systems are based largely on conventional video conferencing technology, and the installed base is dominated by a handful of familiar vendors. The end-user experience is quite good, but even with HD, boardroom solutions fall short of the immersive experience. However, these solutions are adaptable to a much broader range of environments, and of course, the price points are substantially lower—but still a sizeable investment. Finally, we come to DVC at the end of the continuum. While PCs are far more ubiquitous than these other video confer- encing environments, they have traditionally not been suitable endpoints, so to speak, for video conferencing. In the past, DVC solutions forced tradeoffs in video quality, visual impact and IT demands versus cost, and for that reason the desktop has not been viewed seriously as a home for video conferencing. However, technology has matured to the point where the possibilities for DVC have become much more interesting, especially in terms of cost feasibility and the end-user experience. As this paper will explore, the DVC experience has improved substantially on all fronts, and offers exciting opportunities to extend video conferencing into many new areas. In short, compared to other video conferencing solutions, the value proposition for DVC is based on three variables: quality, cost and flexibility. Today’s DVC solutions can deliver a high-quality experience, at an affordable price point, and across a wide variety of environments. Aside from complementing the other types of video conferencing solutions, DVC can be deployed in a host of scenarios that are simply not practical any other way. To more fully illustrate the value proposition for DVC, Figure 1 below summarizes the salient comparisons with immersive video conferencing. While the latter clearly serves a niche for video conferencing services, DVC has a distinct set of advantages that make it a very effective solution for a diverse and expanding range of needs. 2
  3. 3. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued Feature Immersive VC Desktop VC Comment Deployment Environment Dedicated room, and a highly Can run on any PC that DVC is not location-dependent customized environment. supports DVC and has a and can be used in many more broadband connection. situations and environments. Accessibility Both parties must have Most DVC solutions are DVC is more flexible, making it immersive VC and be standards-based and accessible to a much wider interoperable for the immersive interoperable. They can also audience, and as ubiquitous as experience. Sessions are also deliver a quality experience PCs themselves. limited by the number of seats even if parties use different at the conference table or video settings based on theater. bandwidth availability. DVC is not limited by the number of seats in range of the cameras. Collaboration Feels very natural, and is easy Most sessions will be one-to- Immersive is a more engaging to make eye contact to share one or one-to-many, and less environment for group with a group. Sessions look effective for getting two or more collaboration, but Web-savvy and feel just like a real meeting, groups to work together in users can still collaborate very with multi-party attendance at real time. well with DVC. both ends. Productivity As with in-person meetings, Participants are usually using Both solutions can be very immersive VC has a captive DVC individually, and will be productive, but it can be easier audience that will be more more prone to multitasking on for DVC users to lose focus and focused on the task at hand. their PC or other devices. Also, get distracted. with multiple parties, there are more points of failure for network connections. Cost Significant capital investment DVC rides over existing DVC is by nature very attractive required to acquire the system broadband, and the cost can cpst-wise, and an immersive and build the room. Ongoing be nominal or even free. VC experience remains a high- support and network access Network capacity may need end offering. The experience is fees can be substantial. upgrading to support less dramatic, but for many, the anticipated volume, but this tradeoff is worthwhile. cost is relatively minor. Quality of Experience This is what you pay for with QoE feels more virtual than The QoE versus cost tradeoff is immersive VC. The QoE is immersive, but is still very not as large today, and DVC excellent—life like, life size, good, and much improved offers an excellent balance of great audio and HD video. over earlier technologies. the two. Figure 1. DVC and Immersive Video Conferencing Comparison Summary DVC Market Adoption and Enabling Trends Building on the value proposition for DVC, there are numerous enabling trends that will drive adoption over the next few years, and have already come into their own in 2008. Before discussing these, it must be noted that the overall market opportunity for DVC is substantive. In the absence of credible industry data specific to this emerging DVC market, some recent research reports will serve as a reasonable proxy of what we can expect from this market. 3
  4. 4. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued • Frost & Sullivan shows that the global market for video conferencing endpoints was $1.1 billion in 2007, and will grow to $3.9 billion in 2014, which represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. • Another Frost & Sullivan study on video conferencing services indicates that the North American market was $118 million in 2007, and will grow to $396 million by 2014, representing a CAGR of 19%. • Data from In-Stat and Wainhouse Research on the emerging Unified Communications market shows global revenues growing from $22.6 billion in 2007 to $48.7 billion in 2012. These figures include video conferencing and have a CAGR of 14%. • Frost & Sullivan’s recent report on the fast-growing North American web conferencing market shows revenues increasing from $632 million in 2007 to $1.5 billion in 2012, for a CAGR of just under 16%. These are but a few examples of how technologies and applications related to DVC are forecast to grow, and it is more than reasonable to conclude DVC will follow a similar path. In fact, our view is that DVC will grow even faster than these examples for three specific reasons: 1. The impact of HD will accelerate DVC growth beyond what is expected in its current form. HD is feasible today for DVC, but not yet practical on most PCs. Just as HD has quickly become a market driver for immersive VC, as well as home use for television viewing, the pattern will repeat itself for DVC. 2. Mobility is another promising frontier for DVC and will provide another layer of accelerated growth. As with HD, there is limited capability today for mobile video conferencing, but handsets are rapidly evolving and mobile broadband is becoming a must-have service, thanks to the iPhone and other smartphone vendors who see the mobile device as the primary communication device for many. 3. Finally, because DVC is not location-dependent, we envision considerable growth beyond the traditional video conferencing base of the enterprise to both SMBs and the consumer market. This will help make the overall pie larger, and take DVC into new areas that other solutions simply cannot serve. Supporting these forecasts and growth scenarios are a number of enabling trends, which are summarized in the following text table. Many of these trends are interconnected, but collectively create a very favorable environment for the adoption of DVC. 4
  5. 5. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued Better DVC solutions DVC technologies deliver a better quality experience, are easier to use, more accessible and more affordable. These issues are no longer a barrier for using DVC. More powerful PCs Today’s PCs have greater CPU capacity to support applications like DVC, and with the advent of dual-core and dual-quad-core processors, they will continue to improve and still remain affordable. Better quality cameras A high-quality webcam is vital for DVC, and the caliber of offerings has greatly improved. Whether built in to the PC or externally attached, webcams are now commonplace and affordable, with many now supporting HD. HD video As HD becomes more commonplace, new applications will open up that could not be practically supported by other forms of VC. This would hold for any scenario where enhanced video makes the experience come alive. Examples include call centers and product demonstrations in the enterprise, and for consumers, home shopping, virtual travel, social networking, interactive gaming, etc. Greater availability of Broadband adoption is becoming ubiquitous in both the consumer and business world. Equally bandwidth important is the shift occurring from ISDN to IP for data traffic, where video is natively supported. To illustrate, Frost & Sullivan shows that only 18% of video conferencing activity was IP-based in 2004. This level more than tripled to 56% in 2007. Adoption of Unified As the Unified Communications market develops, DVC will become integrated to make UC a more Communications and complete, real-time solution. Collaboration and conferencing are key value drivers here, and businesses on-demand VC will recognize how DVC enhances the UC experience. Furthermore, on-premises software solutions eliminate the need for an external conference bridge. This removes a major barrier within the enterprise to using VC, as sessions can be done on-demand rather than reserving the equipment in advance. VC now becomes more accessible to end users and further empowers them to adopt DVC. Travel substitute As businesses become more decentralized, the need to connect geographically disparate offices and workers will grow. However, it is not always feasible to connect for a face-to-face meeting. And as issues such as rising travel costs, lost time and environmental concerns become more prevalent, video conferencing will become more popular. Immersive VC is an attractive alternative, but can only serve the high end of the market, because it is so expensive and requires a dedicated environment. As DVC continues to gain adoption, it will help play the same role throughout the enterprise. Figure 2. Enabling Trends for DVC Managing the Complexity of DVC While there are many benefits of DVC, there is one reality that persists: the underlying technologies for DVC are complex and difficult for most solutions providers to develop themselves. The desktop environment presents a distinct set of challenges that immersive or boardroom VC do not have to face, a factor which has long prevented the adoption of DVC. These challenges are briefly summarized below. Technical Challenges for DVC • Video quality is the starting point for a quality DVC experience. This requires real-time video as opposed to streaming video, and with that comes a distinct set of challenges, especially when scaling to support a large number of users. 5
  6. 6. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued • Maintaining a consistent experience for the duration of a DVC session requires proper bandwidth management. This means controlling jitter, latency, lip synchronization and packet loss. Furthermore, DVC is more complex than other IP-based applications such as VoIP (Voice over IP), since it must support multiple modes of real-time communications. • Synchronization of audio and video communications is critical for a high-quality, realistic DVC experience. This also requires bandwidth management expertise as well as the usage of codecs optimized for DVC. • Ability to support a wide range of web camera devices on PCs. Camera quality is highly variable, and DVC solutions must be adaptable to provide a consistent visual experience across multiple end users, PC webcam configurations, as well as perform under adverse network conditions. • Unlike the controlled environment of immersive VC, DVC can be used in a variety of settings, many of which will have sub-optimal lighting conditions. DVC solutions must be flexible enough to accommodate for these variances, especially to support HD. Global IP Solutions – an Engine to Drive DVC Global IP Solutions (GIPS) has long been regarded as a pioneer in enabling Internet communications, and DVC is a market they are well-suited to address. The company provides a full range of media processing technologies that are used by software developers, hardware manufacturers and service providers around the world to create high-quality IP-based voice and video solutions. Two widely deployed examples are GIPS' iLBC (Internet Low Bit Rate) codec for VoIP, which is now a popular IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard codec for narrowband speech algorithms designed to optimize calls made over the Internet and WiFi networks; and the company’s proprietary video codec (LSVX) for real-time, two-way video. Taken individually, these codecs provide industry-leading point solutions, but for DVC, more is needed to address all of the complexities outlined in this white paper. High quality of experience demands optimized pre-and post-multi- media processing to handle latency, jitter, lip synchronization and bandwidth management issues. A best-of-breed approach could be used across various vendors to piece together a DVC solution, but our view is that the odds of suc- cess for such complex requirements are greater with an integrated offering. GIPS offers such a solution in its voice and video engine products, and given the company’s long history and track record of innovation in voice and video processing, there is a great deal of merit in considering them a leader in the DVC market. Not only does GIPS technology enable a high-quality DVC experience today, but it is ready to support emerging requirements such as HD and mobility. Global IP Solutions technology comprises four distinct platforms, and the real value-add for GIPS is how these are all integrated to provide a comprehensive DVC solution for any end-user environment. GIPS VoiceEngine™ and VideoEngine™ platforms address client-side needs—from PCs to IP phones and mobile devices—while Voice ConferenceEngine™ and Video ConferenceEngine™ are their server-side platforms, which provide scalable DVC support across the entire enterprise, as well as for service providers. To further illustrate, the following are some key examples of how a best-in-class solution should address the complexities of DVC: • Server and client-side components are tightly integrated, making it much easier to ensure a consistent, high-quality video and audio experience across the entire enterprise, as well as for consumers. 6
  7. 7. GLOBAL IP SOLUTIONS Desktop Video Conferencing: Better Than You Think, continued • Use of adaptive bit rate codecs and advanced automation techniques ensures high quality under all conditions. Issues such as jitter, packet loss and bandwidth allocation are dynamically addressed so end users do not have to make their own adjustments, or try to become video and audio processing experts. • Graceful degradation is a good example of this. When constraints appear for either bandwidth throughput or CPU capacity, the video quality is automatically scaled back, but done so in a manner that is barely noticeable to the end user and allows the session to continue without interruption. This capability also allows enterprises or service providers to host more sessions on their servers, making it easier to scale. • Codecs must be engineered to provide the highest quality experience possible and minimize any compromises by CPU or bandwidth limitations. GIPS supports both proprietary and all the major industry standards and codecs for both voice (iLBC, iSAC, G.711, 723, 729, etc.), and video (LSVX, H.263, H.264, MPEG-4, etc.), making this a very flexible solution. The same is true at the end-user level, with support across all the major PC platforms: Windows, Mac and Linux. • To better support the end user, GIPS has developed a library of profiles for the most commonly used webcams and drivers. This allows them to automatically optimize the settings for each one, making DVC a simple, plug- and-play experience for end users, and is ultimately helping to drive the adoption of DVC. GIPS offers the best of all worlds for DVC, and a deep understanding of the challenges of voice and video processing over IP networks, not just for DVC today, but HD DVC and mobile DVC tomorrow. This is important for all touch points along the DVC spectrum: developers, enterprises, service providers and end users. Each share a common goal—to have a high-quality DVC experience—and they all know how difficult that can be. With GIPS, they have a complete engine that handles all the complexities of IP communications, and with that, a clear path for allowing DVC to reach its full potential, not just at the desktop, but in the mobile world as well. J Arnold & Associates, an independent telecom consultancy, produced this white paper. The contents herein reflect the conclusions drawn based on general research about the video conferencing market, and GIPS technologies. For more information, please contact us by email: For more information on Global IP Solutions, please visit About Global IP Solutions (GIPS) Global IP Solutions develops industry leading embedded media processing solutions for real-time communications on packet networks. Our broad range of patented multimedia solutions are utilized by network operators, device manufacturers, application developers, internet service providers, infrastructure providers to overcome the inherent problems and general deficiencies introduced by wired or Wi-Fi networks such as delay, jitter, packet loss, clock-drift, acoustic and network echo. Global IP Solutions, Inc. Corporate Headquarters • 642 Harrison Street, Second Floor • San Francisco, CA 94107 USA Phone: +1 415 397 2555 • Fax: +1 415 397 2577 • Email: © Copyright 2008 Global IP Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. Global IP Solutions and the Global IP Solutions logo are registered trademarks of Global IP Solutions, Inc. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective companies. All specifications subject to change without notice. WP/DVCBTYT/D/1008/PDF