Video Conferencing

Posted on 2009-12-19
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I wanted to implement a Video Conferencing facility for my companies to communicate to each on a regular basis.

I wanted to know what kind of infrastructure, I would need to have a successful & reliable Video Conferencing System. Please let me have your comments & suggestions?
Question by:Petersennik
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    First thing you should do is establish your budget.  Your budget will define what manufacturer you chose, the codec allowable and the definition of video quality you will be able to provide.  With that said, there are really two vendors out there now.  Polycom and Cisco (since Cisco purchased Tandberg).  Polycom units come in both standard definition and high definition cameras.  The cameras are based on the size of the conference room and the types of conferences you will be conducting.  For instance if you wish to have life-like motion and finite detail on presentations you may decide you want to go with a Telepresence option.  If you wish to host video and voice conferences using standard high-definition cameras and televisions, then you can go with the that type as well.  At any rate, you budget is going to aid you in making that decision as well.  

    So for the network portion of your question, you need to insure that your switches and routers connecting to both the cameras and the wide area network are capable of Quality of Service (QoS).  QoS markings are sent from your camera endpoints to the network and need to be guaranteed a certain amount of bandwidth and latency so that the video and voice originating and arriving to the cameras is as close to real time as possible and that they are not interrupted by other types of traffic such as a data packet for a PC user.  

    There are several factors that you will need to take into consideration such as "will I use a IP Precedence or DSCP on my camera endpoints?"  "Does my switch support both IP Precedence and DSCP or only DSCP or vice versa?"  

    Another question for you to answer is, what is the media you wish to make conference calls travel on?  Will you use only your wide area network or will you need to use ISDN?  You would use ISDN if you wanted to allow a person such as a potential employee to interview at a Kinko's or something.  In that instance you would need to use the PSTN to route that video call into your network.  If you only plan on using the WAN/LAN then you will need to insure that your routers have the capacity for the video call and that proper QoS is implemented and adhered to across your WAN/LAN infrastructure.  

    I will give you a few suggestions and we can go from there if you would like.

    For your LAN consider a minimum of a 100BaseT switch capable of supporting QoS on the physical interfaces.  Segment your Video traffic on a VLAN so that it will sit outside any other broadcast domain.  Apply your QoS to the edge ports (an edge port being a port that connects to the camera at one end and the other end would connect to the router that connects to your WAN.  The router you have or may choose also needs to support QoS so that when it sees packets coming from the LAN with a DSCP value of EF for voice and AF41 for video that it treats those as marked packets and applies the proper QoS when it arrives at the router and when it leaves the router.  

    Your WAN needs to also support QoS from your sites while the Video traffic traverses your provider network.  For these types of connections MPLS is best suited for these needs unless you have a point network for each office in which case you would mark and guarantee traffic as it leaves one router and arrives at the remote end.  MPLS is less expensive and supports a wide variety of QoS.  

    Your LAN infrastructure also needs to have a fairly robust backend so your local video traffic is not hindered in any way.  This is where QoS comes in but you need a good solid foundation for your LANs anyway to support the demands of real time traffic.  I would recommend a series of switches but my assumption is that you already have that in place.  If you wish to share your LAN/WAN devices with me it may help in making recommendations also.  I have used Polycom, Tandberg (now Cisco), and Cisco Telepresence many times and I like Polycom for it's price points but Tandberg and Cisco for their quality and high-def video.  

    Author Comment


    Many thanks for the detailed information on Video Conferencing, it's really gives me a real insight into building a strong Video Conferencing system for my business.

    I have draw out a diagram in PDF of my existing Network, please have a look and let me have your comments and suggestion on the most suitable and cost effect system which I can implement.

    For your information, I have Cisco Switches & CAT 5 Cabling currently in place. Currently, we use a Wireless Network for all Data, through our local ISP, our current Bandwidth 1024/1024.

    My other office in Tanzania, has a small & has a very basic Network, running a few PC's & Bandwidth is 512/512. This is one of the office's, I would like start with doing Video Conferencing, come 1st Quarter 2010.

    If you need any other information, let me know I will happy to provide you with the same.

    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    First thing that comes to mind is the size of the offices that you will be utilizing.  Bandwidth does not appear to be a big issue if I read your text appropriately.  Even though you have bandwidth, do not dismiss with the need to run QoS and guarantee your voice/video traffic across the WAN.  My recommendations will be based off the size of the conference rooms you plan to deploy in.  So let's say you have an eight seat conference room in Tanzania and a twenty person in your HQ.  Then you will want to size your Polycom units according to those dimensions and seat numbers.  Do not go through your wireless to connect your cameras, put them into your Cisco switches via Cat-V.  There are several good models of QoS on the internet for setting up the required DSCP values on your Cisco switches so follow best practices and you will be happier that you did.  Polycom has several models available to choose from and that is why my first statement is centered around finding and defining your budget allocated for your video project.  That is the best thing you can do.  Get cameras that will fit the environments you have in place and you will not regret it.  

    Author Closing Comment

    Well write & detail explanation for Video Conferencing, thanks

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