Transforming Conference Room Interoperability
If you have worked in a typical office setting, you have likely encountered—and struggled valiantly—with the typical conference room: a bulky phone with endless buttons and poor audio, projectors with multiple connection points (but not compatible with your laptop, of course, for your presentation) and if by a stroke of luck you are able to connect with remote co-workers, the connection is fuzzy and likely freezes or even drops the call altogether.
This is the stuff of workplace nightmares; here’s where interoperability—the seamless integration of different hardware and external components, regardless of brand—comes into the picture.
Moving Away from the Island Model
According to BlueJeans senior sales engineer Frank R. Mukai, BlueJeans’ interoperability evolved as a use case involving Skype, particularly for the consumer to be able to communicate through the video call application (before Microsoft acquired Skype) with traditional standard conference room technologies, like that of Polycom, Cisco, and Lifesize.
"Every company had to deploy their own ‘island’ of equipment,” says Mukai, an isolationist approach that created a frustrating experience for the consumer. This “island” included the implementation of a small army of expensive equipment, including servers that needed to be installed—and maintained—on-site. Redundancy required additional equipment and costs.
Streamlined Compatibility: The End of the Test Call
These systems were also limited by their functionality and effectiveness: internally, they worked fine, but attempting to connect with external parties proved challenging. Scheduling meetings require pre calls first to verify that the connection is possible.
Regarding this process, Mukai points out that, “For every meeting, clients would have to schedule a test call at least a day in advance, and would have to ask so many questions. What type of firewall did they have? Did they have a firewall traversal solution? Are you able to receive incoming calls? It was very complex.”
Mukai explains that even this time-consuming, labor-intensive testing process was unreliable, as the connection would work successfully one day, but then fail during subsequent test calls. “People would literally just give up, and say, ‘Okay, video calling is only for internal communication. We’re not going to deal with this now.”
Cloud-Based Meetings and Industry-Leading Security
This is where BlueJeans comes in, connecting these various “conference room islands” with different solutions from multiple vendors within the same meeting. This connection is also highly secure, as it doesn’t require receiving external calls: all parties simply connect to the BlueJeans service, eliminating the need to open up any ports on their respective firewalls and potentially compromise their internal infrastructure.
“If I were to invite you to a meeting, we would both connect to BlueJeans. We are not calling each other; we are both calling into the BlueJeans meeting,” says Mukai. Another benefit of using BlueJeans is that it is cloud-based. The information being shared in the meeting isn’t being stored anywhere, unless the meeting’s host decides to record the meeting’s audio, video and content. The cloud service adds another layer of security since no external guests are connecting to your private network.
Flexibility and Adaptability: “It Just Works!”
“Interoperability is not just about rooms, but about devices,” says Mukai. “I could be on a Mac, you could be a PC, somebody else could be on a mobile device. We want to open it up, and remove any friction from the user’s choice.” There’s no preferred setup, because BlueJeans is compatible with equipment that is fifteen years old or brand-new.
Different protocols? Fast and slow internet speeds? A mix of high and low video call resolution? In the past, a participant with a slow internet speed, old endpoint, or lower-quality resolution would bring the entire meeting’s quality down. BlueJeans transcodes every user individually, automatically negotiating and optimizing performance to achieve the highest quality—not to mention reliable—video conference meeting.
Joining a Video Conference Is as Easy as Walking into a Room
BlueJeans video conferences also include features that make the telepresence experience especially immersive such as voice-activated switching, screen sharing, remote desktop control, and application sharing. One of the biggest customer requests, says Mukai, regards mixed environments with various endpoints. “They have remote controls with fifty buttons, and attendees don’t know how to use them. They want it to be easy to schedule their meetings. We tailor it to the customer’s workflow, uncovering what the customer has deployed so far, and go from there.” With BlueJeans, you can walk into a conference room, and with the touch of a button on a screen, begin your meeting.
Customer feedback is clear. Mukai recalls one, typical rave review: “We always use BlueJeans for our most important calls, because it just works—that’s what the customers are telling us.”