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.

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!

On March 4th, IVCi and Polycom hosted a webinar covering Global Trends in Distance Learning. The session was presented by Marci Powell, Polycom’s Global Director for Education and Training. The webinar provided some insightful content on the latest trends in Distance Learning as well as some really amazing examples of how different educational organizations are applying the technology to their curriculum.

SLIDES PRESENTED:

WEBINAR RECORDING:

5 Best Practices for Conducting a Video Call

Video conferencing has proven to be a great way to enhance collaboration and increase productivity. In the last few years, video has gained popularity due to technology advancements and ease of use improvements. That said, there are important user elements to keep in mind to ensure a successful video call.

Here are five best practices to keep in mind:

1. Lighting: Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a video call and bad lighting can take a good quality to poor quality very quickly. First, make sure there is enough light in the room. If dimly lit, turn more lights on or add a lamp to your workstation. Second, look at the direction of the light. If your lighting is coming from directly behind you, particularly from a window, then you are going to appear as a very dark shadow to the person you are speaking with. It would be best to move to where the window is not directly behind you, close the blinds, or try and counter the light with a lamp on you desk.. Lastly, overhead lighting can create a lot of shadows. Having a lamp pointing at you on your desk can help with creating the ideal lighting that is pointing towards you and illuminating the face.

2. Camera Angle: testing and adjusting your camera angle prior to the call is important in ensuring proper set-up. Using the self-view mode can help to give you a good idea of how you will appear to the participant on the other end of the call. If on a laptop, positioning your web cam at eye level is a good way to avoid awkward angles. If conducting a video call on a mobile device, keeping the device as steady as possible while also holding it out in front of you at eye level are very important. When using a room based system, zoom the camera to focus on the participants in the room while making sure that everyone on the call is in the frame.

3. Speaker/Volume: There are a few important aspects you want to pay attention to when it comes to speakers and volume while on a video call. First, test your speakers and audio prior to the call to ensure they are working properly. Second, using a headset can help with reducing outside noise, echo, and improving overall audio quality when using a laptop or mobile device for your video call. Lastly, if on a larger multiparty call, mute yourself when not speaking so as to avoid any added noise.

4. Eye contact/Multitasking: Often on video calls, people will look down to take notes or work on their computer. Try to look in to the camera while speaking and avoid looking down for long periods of time. Also, when sharing content, place the content on the same level as the camera so as to not appear you are looking away while presenting. Because eye contact is so important in a video call, try to avoid multi-tasking including checking email, looking at your phone, or even getting up. This can be very distracting for other parties on the call, and it can create the appearance that you are not actively participating in the call. Eliminating distractions in your environment can help with keeping you focused on the call at hand.

5. Bandwidth: Having adequate bandwidth is one of the most important elements when conducting a video call. Testing your video prior to a meeting helps to ensure you have adequate bandwidth for the call. Required network speeds for video conferencing vary depending on the solution. For example, consumer applications tend to require less bandwidth, whereas enterprise options can require more. Likewise, depending on the solution, multiparty calls can increase requirements as well.

Meet the New IVCi!

May 8th, 2013 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Industry News | IVCi - (0 Comments)

Meet the New IVCi

There is fundamental shift going on in the world of visual communications and collaboration. With the advent of mobile devices and the cloud, a day doesn’t go by where a manufacturer doesn’t announce a new video or collaboration service or offering. At the same time, major manufacturers are pushing their technology (mostly at the desktop) as the be all end all for collaboration. However, we believe collaboration is much bigger than that and can happen anywhere.

BrandLaunchIVCi has always focused on trying to deliver the best solutions to address the business needs of our customers. We begin every engagement with a thorough assessment and understanding of our customer’s goals. This is something we have done for quite some time and the result is a solution that can deliver the desired outcomes.

With that we are incredibly excited to introduce you to our new brand. With over 18 years of experience, we have witnessed the power of collaboration and its ability to help our customers move their business forward.  Our new brand is focused 100% on collaboration. We believe 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.

This new brand is just the beginning. Our mission is to enable our customers to improve their business and their bottom line by unleashing the collective power of their people through collaboration. As a collaboration company, IVCi will bring many new and exciting products and services to the market. As a collaboration company, we will help organizations work together in new and exciting ways. As a collaboration company, we will change the game.