Arkadin

Video interoperability with Skype for Business (or existing video investments)

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In 2006, my first job out of college was as a sales consultant at Arkadin. At the time, a unique selling point for our customers was the ability to schedule a conference call in Microsoft Outlook that automatically populated dial-in numbers and web meeting URL. If your solution could do that, it was a BIG DEAL! Now, 10+ years later, end user expectations for virtual meetings have evolved. We (as participants in virtual meetings) expect to join a virtual meeting from any device or endpoint without issue. The proliferation of new devices that we expect to be supported include laptops, smartphones, tablets, video conferencing endpoints, Microsoft Surface Hubs, web browsers and UC clients (like Skype for Business or Jabber). Most importantly, we expect it all to work together in one virtual meeting environment…oh ya, and it needs to be easy to use.

 

The expectation of a simple virtual meeting join flow can cause problems for IT and end user experience teams. Solving for interoperability has been a challenge in recent years. Several new tools have launched with the goal of solving for interoperability however they have all opted for a meet-me type solution versus true interoperability (any-to-any). Thankfully, there’s an answer to the interoperability conundrum. It’s Pexip; Arkadin’s newest strategic technology partner. Pexip has enjoyed tremendous growth with their “any-to-any video conferencing” approach that has simplified virtual meeting interoperability and once again made it possible to schedule a meeting from Outlook that supports almost every device imaginable (see below screenshot).

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Pexip’s flagship solution Pexip Infinity can be deployed as a software MCU (Multi-point Conferencing Unit) or a distributed gateway that supports a variety of devices and endpoints and connects them all into a single virtual meeting solution (eg: Skype for Business or a personal virtual meeting room). The beauty of Pexip Infinity is it connects any existing and future codec and protocol through Pexip Infinity, and benefits from a true any-to-any team collaboration solution.

We work in close partnership with Pexip to solve global customers virtual meeting interoperability challenges. We’ve found that organizations with a distributed workforce and existing video footprint (or a strategy to drive video collaboration in the future) are interested in the interoperability discussion. Arkadin works closely with Pexip as a strategic global enablement partner to consult, plan, build, on-board and support Pexip Infinity deployments in whatever deployment model makes the most sense for the customer. Pexip’s approach to interoperability has a proven track record with a customer list that includes Vodafone, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Indiana University and Ricoh.

Here are answers to 8 popular questions that we typically get asked at the beginning of every customer engagement that may help your research as you start planning to address interoperability within your organization.

1) Can Pexip Infinity support video interoperability with Skype for Business?

You betcha! Pexip Infinity is natively interoperable with Microsoft Skype for Business and Surface Hub and effectively becomes a Skype-to-anything bridge. It’s pretty slick and I’d be happy to show it to you in action.

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2) Can Pexip Infinity also be deployed as a Virtual Meeting Room Solution?

Yes, Pexip Infinity can be deployed as either a Gateway solution OR as a Virtual Meeting Room (VMR). You can think of a VMR as you would think of a physical one: Everyone knows where it is, it has a name, and perhaps even some collaboration tools in it – a few chairs and a table you can sit around and discuss. And of course, it has a screen where you can share information, documents, presentations, and much more.

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3) What are the deployment options for Pexip Infinity?

Pexip Infinity powered by Arkadin can be deployed in your data center, as a managed service, a private or public cloud, or hybrid.

4) How does the Pexip solution scale as usage / adoption increases?

The challenges common to large enterprises and VCaaS providers are the extreme complexities related to scaling traditional and proprietary video infrastructures, and that of providing a cloud service that is efficient enough to allow scaling as required.

Pexip Infinity is built from ground up to be a flexible, interoperable, and, above all, a scalable meeting platform. It can be deployed on a multitude of platforms, from within an organization’s data center, to a private or public cloud (via Arkadin), or run on Microsoft® Azure® or Amazon Web Services.

Uniquely, Infinity can also span and automatically burst to a scalable compute cloud platform, should capacity be limited in an existing deployment.

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5) What can I connect through Pexip Infinity?

Pexip Infinity automatically connects and transcodes almost all legacy and current codecs, such as H.323, SIP, H.263, H.264 SVC, RTV, VP8, VP9, and RDP for video, and a similarly long list for audio.

6) What types of standards-based endpoints can connect through Pexip Infinity?

Clients include all standards-based endpoints (including those from Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, Sony, Huawei, Radvision, Yealink and other vendors), as well as Microsoft Skype for Business, Skype for Business Online (Office365), Surface Hub, Lync 2010 and 2013, and many more.

7) Does Pexip support Web-RTC access into a virtual meeting?

Yes, Pexip Infinity is natively compatible with WebRTC-supporting clients such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi, so that users without any other tool than their web browser can join the same meetings as everyone else.

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For non-WebRTC supporting browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari, Pexip supports video conferencing though Flash video. Flash is already installed for most users, allowing them to enjoy video calls with no additional downloads as well.

For Microsoft Edge browser, Pexip Infinity is natively compatible with ORTC.

8) Why Pexip?

  • Enterprise software you deploy your way that works natively with Microsoft Skype for Business – not a simple and limited video meeting tool
  • Completely flexible capacity, customization, and deployment options
  • Runs on VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, AWS, Microsoft Azure, and multiple other options – in your data center, cloud of choice, or hybrid
  • Unmatched scalability capacity to fit any size organization – “just right” for everyone
  • Provides award-winning interoperability and functionality – the engine of choice for many VCaaS

Virtual meeting interoperability solves a fundamental challenge that our customers are asking for today: a need to simplify the user experience while increasing the flexibility and capabilities within a virtual meeting. Arkadin and Pexip are working together to solve the interoperability challenge and are standing by to assist.

If you’re interested in learning more about interoperability and how it may be a fit within your virtual meeting strategy, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to setup an initial discovery session.

About the author

Zach Katsof is the Director of Unified Communications at Arkadin. Zach joined Arkadin as an Account Executive in the Toronto office back in 2006 and has been helping customers empower their end users with virtual meeting and communications solutions that improve productivity ever since! Zach has helped launch multiple new unified communications and virtual meetings solutions in the Americas and worked closely with all departments to ensure the offers were built with customer needs in mind. Now based in Atlanta, Zach is responsible for the Unified Communications Business at Arkadin North America. Zach has a political science degree from Queen’s University and an MBA from Georgia Tech. In his off-time, he enjoys spending time with family & friends and being active (golf, running, anything outdoors).

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