Author Archives: Adam Kaiser

Heartbleed and Video Conferencing

On April 7th the Heartbleed (CVE: 2014-0160) security vulnerability was made public along with a fix. Heartbleed represents a vunerability in the OpenSSL software that provides security for millions of web servers and services across the internet. Many governing bodies and media outlets called the vulnerability one of, if not, the worst security vulnerabilities discovered since the beginning of the internet. As a provider of visual collaboration services, many of which are driven by web services, we wanted to provide a round-up of some of the key announcements and fixes provided by our partners:

Cisco
Cisco’s security team posted the following article to their blog (OpenSSL Heartbeat Extension Vulnerability in Multiple Cisco Products) which lists all of the affected Cisco products and current plans for fixes. Of particular interest to our collaboration customers, WebEx Meetings Service, TelePresence Video Communication Service (VCS) and Expressway are already fixed. Details about the specific updates are also in the post. Also, additional investments are currently under way and the Cisco post will continue to be updated.

Polycom
Polycom posted its security bulletin (Security Advisory Relating to OpenSSL Vulnerability “Heartbleed” on Various Polycom Products) this week and it contains a list of affected Polycom products and their versions. Additionally dates of fixes or estimated fixes are also listed. Check back on Polycom’s site for additional updates.

Blue Jeans
Blue Jeans issued a statement on April 9th that their services are not affected by the vulnerability and that there is no evidence of any data compromise.

Acano
On April 10th an interview was posted with Acano Chief Security Officer Steven Johnstone covering Heartbleed and other security related concerns. In that post Acano announced it had issued a fix the day before and their solution was secure. Of particular interest are the comments about the open source nature of OpenSSL and its importance to the industry.

Pexip
Pexip provided a statement on Heartbleed as well as a fix that is included in their new Pexip Infinity V4 software that was released earlier this week.

Crestron
Crestron revealed that with the exception of 2 mobile apps, no Crestron services, products or websites have been affected. The notice discloses the details of the mobile apps here.

IVCi’s Cloud Services
IVCi’s Cloud Video Experience has been tested and none of its services are affected by the Heartbleed Vulnerability.

If you have any question about your solutions and their potential vulnerabilities continue to check the advisories posted by the respective manufacturers.

WebRTC – Hype or the Real Deal?

April 9th, 2014 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Cisco | Collaboration | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

WebRTC - Hype or the Real Deal?

For those who have been watching the collaboration industry closely it is hard to not see a multitude of articles and announcements that discuss WebRTC and the latest product to feature the technology. We have blogged extensively about WebRTC in the past but, in short, WebRTC is a web browser standard that enables real-time audio and video directly in the browser without the need for plugins. The standard is still being developed and has not been completely “ratified” by the governing bodies that ensure web based standards are, well, standard. Browser support is not universal (Chrome, Firefox & Opera support it; Safari, Internet Explorer and others do not). With these limitations in mind, let’s explore what WebRTC can actually enable.

Immediate Access
In the past, joining a rich media experience within your browser would require that a plugin was downloaded. In many cases this is still required; think of web conferencing solutions like WebEx or GoToMeeting. With WebRTC, a developer can utilize the native browser to achieve much of the functionality that their plugin provides. In the case of Cisco, they recently announced WebEx compatibility with Google Chromebooks and that compatibility is being achieved by rebuilding WebEx as a WebRTC native application. Now a user simply clicks a link and they are in the meeting instantly.

Video Enabled Business Processes
Much of our work on a daily basis happens inside specific business applications such as CRMs, EHRs, or other custom designed solutions. Since WebRTC is web based, it is much easier to embed web assets into an application and allow video communication to happen right in the system workers use every day. From a healthcare perspective, many doctors and physicians live in their hospital’s Electronic Health Records system. With WebRTC enabled assets, a doctor, nurse, or other employee could be reviewing a patient’s records and immediately initiative a video call on that screen. They would continue to review the data and be able to collaborate with each other in real time, without leaving the application. The productivity gains can be enormous!

Reduce Security Concerns
Many organizations choose to lock down user computer systems from the installation of applications and other components to reduce the risk of malware and viruses. Only when IT is involved can an application be involved. This lock down, while good for security, can be bad for productivity. If a user wants to join a media rich session they would needed to request IT to install a needed plugin. With WebRTC, that employee can utilize the native browser they use every day to join these sessions without having to wait for IT to set-up the application.

Extended Reach
A critical component of collaboration technology is the ability to bring anyone, from anywhere into a meeting without a heavy burden. Previously connecting to a partner or a customer over video required the installation of proprietary software and some finagling of firewall settings, etc. With WebRTC enabled solutions, users simply receive a link to the meeting and they can join instantly. With the case of many solutions out there these links can connect users into sessions that also feature users connected with unified communications solutions (Lync, Jabber) and standard video conferencing systems (Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize).

The use cases for WebRTC are significant and the technology is already opening new doors. While the standard still has a way to go with both ratification and browser support, I feel strongly that WebRTC is here to stay and certainly worth of the hype it has created!

Webinar: Driving Usage & Adoption of Visual Collaboration

April 7th, 2014 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Webinars - (0 Comments)

Webinar: Driving Usage and Adoption of Visual Collaboration

“When organizations embrace collaboration across their workforce, something truly remarkable occurs. Individuals come together with common goals and their collective power can accomplish far greater things than each individual on their own.”

In a world where instant messaging, email, and on-line audio meetings reign supreme, shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communications (UC) solutions can be extremely challenging.

Implementing a new technology is a significant change in the organization that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.

Join us for an informative webinar that will cover several key steps an organization must take in order optimize usage and adoption of visual collaboration among their workforce. This includes:

  • Executive Support & Planning.
  • Identifying & Integrating the Technology
  • Designing Processes & Procedures
  • Disseminating to the People

Driving Usage and Adoption of Visual Collaboration
[Click Here to Register]
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)

register

 

4 Cool Uses for Video Recording and Streaming

Content continues to be king and as we discuss collaboration and communications, visual content plays a huge role. Real-time interaction on video is the norm and major meetings and announcements are made through the technology. Additionally, users continue to expect to find video content when researching topics, new products, etc.

As real-time video has made major advancements, so has the area of recording & streaming. Any video interaction that occurs now can be recorded and made available for immediate playback. This content can be as a simple as a meeting between a few colleagues that a team member was unable to attend or a massive training session that is available for thousands to view on-demand. With that in mind, here are some great uses for recording and streaming platforms:

Executive Road Show

The days of C level executives travelling around the world to all of their office locations to make announcements and presentations to teams are numbered. Video streaming makes it possible for an executive team to sit at their desk and broadcast a live video stream out to the entire organization. This can occur in real-time and Q&A sessions can be available during the event. Streaming technology makes it possible for thousands of viewers to participate simultaneously. After the live event ends, the session can be archived and made available for immediate review for those who could not attend live. These types of events make it easy for executives to get their message out to the masses and maintain consistency in that message.

Investor Relationships/Earnings Calls

More and more organizations are forgoing the traditional earnings conference call and are opting to stream live video to investors and analysts. This added visual component can add some personality to the call and can take the interaction between those reporting the financial results and those receiving it to a new level.

Human Resources

Human Resources are responsible for a myriad of items including recruiting, new employee orientation, benefits and more. Many times HR must disseminate new information regarding a change in employee health benefits or conduct training to fulfill compliance requirements. With recording and streaming, HR teams can produce high quality content once and be confident that it can be shared with the entire organization with the same consistent message. For organizations with tens of thousands of employees it is impossible to lock everyone down for one or two sessions. Additionally, these recordings can be tracked and serve as proof of compliance with regulatory and employee regulations.

Marketing

There is no better way to market a product or service than by SHOWING potential customers rather than just telling them about it. Marketing teams can create interactive sessions that feature streaming video content along with slides and other content. These events can happen in real-time and an opportunity for customers to really engage with an organization’s offering. And this content can be made available as an on-demand recording, providing another avenue for lead generation for the marketing team. An example of this type of content is a recent IVCi session covering Telehealth and some of the available solutions. We utilized a video stream along with slides and interactive Q&A. You can review the session HERE.

Clearly video streaming and recording provides a great way to share key messages and make it available for review, on-demand. As the technology as improved, more and more departments within an organization can utilize this technology without the new for IT resources and dedicated staff.

Enterprise Connect 2014 Recap

March 24th, 2014 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Collaboration | Unified Communications - (0 Comments)

Enterprise Connect 2014 Recap

As I boarded my flight home from Orlando last Thursday I sifted through all of the great things I saw while at Enterprise Connect as well as the fantastic customer and partner interaction I had. Enterprise Connect continues to grow in its size and scope and is quickly becoming THE show for unified communications and collaboration.

Looking back at all the sessions, keynotes, and vendors there were several key trends that emerged from the show that are worthy of discussion.

Lync Domination
The adoption of Microsoft Lync as a full unified communications solution continues to accelerate. At IVCi’s booth this year there were so many companies looking for guidance on how to integrate Lync into the rest of their technology stack (room video conferencing, mobility, etc). Nearly every conversation we had in the IVCi booth focused, at least, partially on Lync. In Gurdeep Singh Pall’s keynote he revealed that 60% of enterprises have deployed or are planning to deploy Lync. Based upon the interactions at show, this does not seem unrealistic. Beyond the countless deployments, it was clear from the number of solutions on the show floor featuring Lync integration that its presence is ever expanding.

Single Solution, Not So Fast…
Manufacturers have been touting the concept of a single solution for many years. They wanted users to implement their solution across the board and rely on one source for everything, namely because it would lock their users in. However, it was clear that this trend is just not happening. In both my own interactions as well as in numerous panel discussions, the topic of single source came up. Ultimately, organizations are implementing multiple solutions for a myriad of reasons. The end result is a lot of technology that simply does not talk to each other properly. Providers like Acano are looking to be the connection between many of these environments and help to provide a more, pardon the pun, unified solution.

WebRTC…Getting There
This year’s WebRTC conference within a conference was another sell out with standing room attendance for most sessions. More and more vendors are turning to WebRTC to help solve interoperability challenges and to create a single click solution. Many manufacturers are embracing this technology (Unifiy’s Project Ansible is entirely WebRTC) but challenges continue. Browser ubiquity is not there yet, Chrome, Opera and Firefox are supported, but others are not (Internet Explorer, Safari). Even within the browsers supporting the standard we are seeing a bit of a fork in terms of functionality. Chrome now supports two-way content sharing, which is a big development, especially for content centric collaboration sessions. This functionality is not yet available in other WebRTC implementations. WebRTC is making major strides but it has not truly arrived at the level of ubiquity it needs. The next year should be interesting to see how this develops.

It’s All About the Experience
From the keynotes to the show floor; many were speaking less and less about the thechnology and more about the user experience. This is perhaps the most promising trend in the industry as manufacturers are really starting to focus on the user and not whiz-bang features. The proof will be in the pudding, but this is an exciting trend that I certainly hope will continue.

For someone who has worked in the world of collaboration and unified communications for a number of years it is easy to get carried away by the latest cool technology but this year I was just reminded by how “cool” collaboration technology is and how much it has become a part of business.  I look forward to this year’s developments and Enterprise Connect 2015. See you there!

What interested you most at Enterprise Connect? Tweet us @IVCiLLC!