From the Cloud: How to Get Started with Telepresence

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Are you ready for the new face-to-face experience?

Businesses everywhere are signing on with telepresence. And it's easy to see why.

A Different Kind of Videoconferencing

One differentiator of telepresence is technical: full-motion frame rates (30 fps) and high-definition (HD) resolution (720p and 1080p).
 
But what excites companies most is the immersive experience--the feeling of being there, in person. Sharp and fluid images--often life-size--make participants who are far away appear to be together in the same room.

“Everyone wanted to shake hands at the end of our meeting," says Chad Paalman of NuWave Technology Partners. “One problem: we were actually in different cities. Telepresence is an amazing experience."

And now you can bring the experience into your business, and use it every day.

Easy, Affordable, and Interoperable

The Cisco TelePresence® Callway® service, hosted by Cisco, works with a variety of Cisco TelePresence endpoints, such as meeting room products and personal units for offices. Participating is as easy as making a phone call. Subscription plans start at $99 per month; all plans include unlimited video calls and desktop sharing.

The service is standards-based, helping ensure that your business can have telepresence meetings with customers, partners, and others who do not yet have a Cisco® Callway subscription. Any Callway subscriber can connect to any standards-based SIP or H.323 user over the Internet.

For a successful deployment of telepresence technology, consider five technical areas: bandwidth, endpoint platform, routing and switching, security, and support.

Sizing Up Bandwidth

High-quality streaming video eats bandwidth. A rule of thumb: at least 1.5 Mbps symmetric (two-way) bandwidth for each endpoint.

"Before starting a customer's service, we run the Callway Line Quality Test tool, because bandwidth intensity depends on the endpoint's specific network configuration and which endpoints are used concurrently," says Matthew Slye of Cerium Networks, a Cisco Silver Certified Partner. Cerium Networks also offers evaluations that consider a business's current IT and future plans, to ensure that its network will provide the needed services and performance.

Choosing Your Endpoints

To select the endpoint that meets your business needs, answer these questions:

  • What qualitative experience do you want? Most businesses choose a dedicated endpoint for a meeting room; the resolution for these endpoints is typically 720p or 1080p. For personal use, Callway desktop units also offer 720p or 1080p; the resolution for an IP video phone or computer (Windows or Macintosh) is typically 448p (an HD webcam is 720p).
  • Where will it be located? Consider issues such as privacy, sound, and lighting. “For a meeting room, consider its acoustics and how it's used," advises Ed Pryor of NuWave Technology Partners, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner. “For a multipurpose room, for example, you may want a retractable display." 
  • Who will you meet with? Cisco TelePresence Callway endpoints with multisite capabilities allow up to four endpoints in a video conference. And a Cisco Callway bridge can instantly connect up to 12 participants.

Routing and Switching

Don't trip up your network with latency, jitter, and packet loss. Apply traffic management, advises NuWave Technology Partners, which provides businesses with telecommunications systems and computer networks, as well as custom software and e-commerce solutions. NuWave's tips include:

  • A requirement: QoS settings that prioritize IP voice and video traffic
  • A best practice: Layer 3 switching and routing that uses VLANs to segment traffic and can control inter-VLAN traffic

Security

Any cloud-based telepresence service should guard your sessions; for example, the Callway service uses advanced media encryption. You should also apply security in your own network, in accordance with the sensitivity of your telepresence sessions.

Engineers at Cerium Networks--which holds advanced specializations from Cisco in telepresence, unified communications, wireless, data center networking infrastructure, and VPN/security--recommend that all businesses use the following:

  • Firewalls to control and monitor the traffic between your own network and any others
  • Secure channels for traffic traversing the Internet, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) for signaling and media
  • Encryption of the signaling and administrative access, as well as the video/audio payload
  • Conformance between the telepresence service's security and your security policy and controls (for example, who at the provider is allowed to manage your data? What access do they have?)

Technology Support

When will you try the new face-to-face experience?

You can rely on the expertise of a Cisco Certified Partner to help you evaluate telepresence (and other technologies) for your business, and to help you get started. The Cisco Client Services Group also offers new Callway customers free training on how to make the best use of telepresence technology.

Next Steps

Learn more about Cisco TelePresence and Callway, and submit a request for further information.

Locate a Cisco Certified Partner.

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