Category AV in Meeting Spaces

Key Considerations for Designing Your Enterprise Video Collaboration Solution: Part Two

In our last post we looked at the advantages of interoperability and security of business-grade video collaboration solutions over consumer-based tools. Today we’ll review the enhanced user benefits of support for enterprise solutions as well as the value business-grade tools provide.


Users enjoy the quality and reliability of Skype for Consumer, Apple Facetime, and Google Hangouts for their personal connectivity needs. However, regardless of the solution you’re using, dropped calls and network issues are always going to crop up. When they do, you want to make sure there is a solid support structure in place to help.

That’s a problem when you’re using a consumer-based system. There’s no organized support solution readily available to get you back up and running should something unforeseen occur. In the business world, you can’t allow crucial meetings involving executives and customers to be derailed by a technology glitch.

When you’re using a business-grade Virtual Meeting Room that consolidates voice, video, and web collaboration into a single platform, you’re assured of ongoing support. You have the peace of mind knowing that you have an organization standing behind you in case you ever need it. Not only is this important to help when issues occur, it’s also a huge benefit when it comes to future optimization or adjustments to the system to accommodate changes to your organization.


A free, consumer-based tool can appear attractive, but it’s limited in what it can provide an organization. You need to consider overall value in the form of platform availability, ability to implement new feature requests, and branding capabilities. That’s where a business-grade solution comes out on top.  These advantages plus productivity and efficiency savings from a reliable, enterprise-grade solution more than offset the cost and lead to a favorable ROI.

There is sometimes a lingering concern that acquiring an enterprise video collaboration system requires a significant capital investment for hardware. That is not the case. There are now multiple options to select a VMR that fits your budget.

For example, AVI-SPL offers four deployment strategies tailored to fit the requirements of all types of businesses. You can choose Private on Premises that can augment a previously installed conferencing technology, As-A-Service cloud for companies not ready to make a hardware investment, Hosted Private Cloud for businesses seeking increased customization and control, and a Hybrid model for customers who want to expand existing technology or who have a cloud-based VMR in operation but want the benefits of both cloud and private-on-premises technologies.

Most importantly, there is value in feeling secure knowing you have a vendor community standing behind the product to ensure its success, now and in the future. You are purchasing a solution you can use today, but you also want to know that the product will evolve to meet the changing needs of your organization over time. Part of the value comes from future features or development tweaks that need to be maintained while others derive from the customization/branding capabilities that enterprise-grade solutions offer, allowing customers to develop and maintain their own service.

In reality, the true value comes from all the points we’ve discussed – interoperability, security, and support. Business-grade solutions have established standards to provide value for the customer.  When the customer trusts in the fact that everything will work together, they eliminate the risks of being locked in to a proprietary solution that won’t be viable in the future. This flexibility provides significant value.

Security offers value through the protection of information while the value of support comes in the comfort of knowing you have an organization ensuring that your systems will work as promised.

Consumer-based video solutions fill an important personal connectivity need. However, when selecting a video technology to support the demands of today’s typical wide-ranging organization, a business-grade VMR is likely the best solution.

Your Guide to Huddle Spaces in the Enterprise

The recent release of the Microsoft Surface Hub marked the arrival of a tool that organizations of all types can use to bring people — including those working remotely — together for collaboration. Huddle spaces are office areas where devices like the Surface Hub can be used among a small group of team members that need to get together quickly and without having to reserve a room well in advance.

In this expert guide, discover the different types of huddle spaces, what goes in them, and why they are helping businesses make smart use of their space.

Download “Huddle Spaces: The New Look for Corporate Workspaces.” >



Key Considerations for Designing Your Enterprise Video Collaboration Solution: Part One

The wide availability of Google Hangouts, Skype for Consumer, and Apple Facetime has led some organizations to consider a consumer-based option for their video collaboration needs. In many cases these tools are free or relatively inexpensive and can appear to be an attractive choice.

On further review, however, there are compelling reasons why this might not be the best decision for your business. Today’s disparate, mobile workforce needs access to more robust, on-demand, self-serve collaboration tools like those provided by enterprise-grade Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) solutions.

A VMR is a personal conference room that consolidates voice, video, and web collaboration into a single platform. Recent VMR deployment models have focused on increasing points of access to those offered via consumer-based solutions without compromising the integrity of an enterprise-grade deployment. VMRs are superior to consumer-based tools in four major areas – interoperability, security, support, and value. We’ll look at the first two points in this post and follow up with the next two in a follow-up post.


Apple Facetime and Google Hangouts feature solid reliability and performance. However they are limited to their own specific applications, and users can only connect and communicate with others who have the same application on their device.

Although some consumer-based tools include many of the advanced features needed for business communication – screen sharing and personal presence for example – they don’t work outside their specific ecosystem. A business-grade solution allows screen sharing with different people in the meeting that may not be connecting the same way you are, but they will still have the same user experience. You can share documents, record meetings for later use, and connect from a variety of different end points, while having access to the same feature set regardless of platform or application.

The lack of interoperability of a consumer-based solution doesn’t work for businesses that need to leverage their investments in a number of different technologies in their video collaboration environment. Deploying a business-grade VMR enables all devices to connect and participate in the same meeting.  An enterprise solution solves the interoperability puzzle by providing connectivity to business-grade collaboration solutions like Skype for Business (formerly known as Microsoft Lync), consumer-grade web browsers, and consumer video collaboration options.


With the growing risk of cyber threats, organizations need enterprise-level security that’s only available in a business-grade solution. Key areas to consider here include access control, content protection, and call flow control. Organizations need to know who can register, who can make and receive calls, and with whom they can connect. They also need to know that the information being transmitted in the call is encrypted against snooping from outside parties.

Call flow can be particularly problematic in a consumer-based collaboration environment that uses other users of the service for firewall traversal. This prevents any predictable or repeatable way to connect two endpoints. This is most concerning since all media is being transmitted through an unknown third party – of whom no one has any control – prior to being sent to the far end.

An enterprise solution, on the other hand, allows you to develop and maintain your own firewall traversal solution. Once through the firewall, traffic flows directly to the remote endpoint with all media encrypted. Finally, each call that connects must be permitted through call control policies approved by the customer directly.

Interoperability and security represent two significant technical benefits of business-grade vs. consumer-based video collaboration options. Next time we’ll look at two important user benefits – support and value.

Where to Order the Microsoft Surface Hub

At last week’s InfoComm tradeshow, AVI-SPL had the honor of being the only AV integrator with a presence at the Microsoft booth. While there, our team members demonstrated the capabilities of the Microsoft Surface Hub, the latest device to advance collaboration by bringing together those inside and outside the workplace.

The Surface Hub has a lot going for it: dual wide-angle cameras, multi-touch functionality, Skype for Business, and many more features that make it the right catalyst for the way we want to work. AVI-SPL is one of the few partners Microsoft is working with to bring organizations of all types this system.

Learn more and reserve your own Microsoft Surface Hub. >

SMART kapp iQ Reinvents the Whiteboard

Over 250 collaborators. That’s the number the immediately made an impression as soon as it was spoken.

At last week’s InfoComm tradeshow in Orlando, I was given a demo of the SMART kapp iQ. It was during that demo that the SMART rep informed me of how many collaborators it can accommodate. Think about the value of that in business and higher education, and how it involves those in the classroom or lecture hall, distance-learning students and remote participants.

Write on a connected device and the content appears on the SMART kapp iQ and everyone else’s device. And you don’t have to worry about losing work, because it can be saved at any time. Features include:

  • Responsive touch experience
  • Write simultaneously using different colors of digital ink
  • Natural write and erase features – use finger, pen or palm
  • 4K Ultra HD resolution – glare-free and supports HD and SD content

To bring the SMART kapp iQ onto your campus, contact Erin Minich, AVI-SPL director of education technology, at