Calling all the shots

With more pressure on companies to executive cut travel budgets and reduce environmentally damaging air travel, video conferencing looks to be emerging as a real alternative to face-to-face meetings. Adrian Bridgwater looks at some of the vendors that are leading this growing sector.

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By  Adrian Bridgwater Published  January 25, 2009

HP

HP continues its march to straddle as many subdivisions of the technology market as possible with its Halo video conferencing product - or as they like to call it, the Halo Collaboration Studio.

The company is keen to reap as much publicity value as it can out of the fact that the product was designed in partnership with DreamWorks Animation SKG. Unsurprisingly then, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has gone on the record to say: "It allows a level of collaboration and sharing of ideas that is head and shoulders above anything else we've ever had or experienced."

HP uses some fairly assertive language when talking about Halo and says that it is the only telepresence offering to offer a truly global, fully managed end-to-end solution - a statement that other vendors would perhaps take issue with.

That said, the product does boast its own private network designed specifically for video collaboration which can deliver fully duplexed audio and company-to-company connections via the Halo network.

Users can connect to multiple studios around the world at one time via HP's Halo Multipoint service and with the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN), customers can gain access to a managed network of collaboration solutions to use as part of their call ‘experience'.

The HVEN network is a fibre optic channel expressly built for video, HP claims that it provides exceptional connection for most H.323-compliant endpoints and comes with an end-to-end, globally managed service to oversee its operation.

It's full-motion video works around the globe in broadcast quality with "no-perceived-delay", without requiring expensive upgrades to existing corporate networks or mandating excessive charges for additional bandwidth necessary for a seamless experience.

With a similar three-screen arrangement to Tandberg's Telepresence T3 offering, a wide video conferencing room table is accommodated for. As you would expect with this product and those of the previously mentioned competitors, Halo comes with 24x365 support.

Significantly though, HP actually has a strategic alliance in place with Tandberg to provide the flexibility of utilising its standards-based video conferencing with the Halo solution.

The service already includes the capability to connect with other traditional video-conferencing endpoints running on other networks, but HP intends to continue  expanding the Halo network so that it is able to work with other products that feature multiple telepresence and third party videoconferencing providers for better compatiblity.

Verdict and key benefits

This is another extremely high-end system that runs on a dedicated network but is broad enough to be compliant with industry standard protocols via a strategic alliance with Tandberg.

Product highlights

• Guaranteed available bandwidth.

• A private, access-controlled network.

• Simplified set of commands allows novice users easy operation of the system.

• Guaranteed available bandwidth with unlimited, on-demand use of a network that enables real-time video collaboration anywhere in the world.


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