But if the person who you want to call isn’t part of your network, and doesn’t have your brand/model video conferencing system, what can you do ?
If you said “Go to Paris and leave your video conferencing troubles behind you,” it is understandable, but not the credited response. If you thought “Get a bridge!” you should read on and if you were thinking about a video conferencing bridge, rather than a 400 year old stone bridge, you get extra credit.
What is a video conferencing bridge ?
Like any other type of bridge, it connects point A to point B. Unlike a physical bridge, point A and point B need not be anywhere near each other for a video conferencing bridge to work, and typically they are made by different vendors, potentially for very different purposes. But if the systems meet a common standard, for today’s video calling systems that standard is H.323, a video bridge can be the medium that allows you to make the connection from VeaMea to Tandberg to Polycom in one call, seamlessly.
Video bridges are sometimes called video gateways, or H.323 gateways because they are the connection points between the internal network which is proprietary to each individual video teleconferencing (VTC) solution and the H.323 standard conversation among them.
How does an H.323 Gateway work ? The mechanics are pretty simple:
* Identify the location of the “other” system
* Initiate a session using the “common language” of H.323
* Translate the common language to the video server/MCU within your network that speaks its own proprietary language
* Repeat until finished
* Close the session
Most vendors currently provides some sort of gateway/video bridge to enable communication with other H.323 devices. The challange is that they don’t always work. In fact, sometimes you can’t make a connection between a Tandberg and a Tandberg or a Polycom and a Polycom. Our experience has been that this often has more to do with network security architecture than the quality of the bridge/gateway, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating or more productive as you watch the senior executive team swear and throw remote controls at the wall.
Some third party video bridging services are emerging, promising dial-in video bridging that is as easy as teleconference bridges. (If you have used one of these services, please comment below with your experiences).
Hopefully one day, like a telephone, VTC will be a simple utility that can interconnect from any point A to any point B and all you will need to know is the “number to call.”
For today however, I can only say that I know (for certain) of one video bridge that works, connecting to Polycom, Tandberg and more with just a click and an IP address.
Ask your VTC vendor about their bridging capabilities. If what they say it isn’t what you were hoping to hear, maybe we can help.