• United States

Software-based H.323 conferencing

Apr 08, 20042 mins
Data Center

My recent article “Video collaboration still slow to take off” resulted in a company contacting me with a solution to the problems I discussed. BNI Solutions’ PowerPlay is a software-based H.323 videoconferencing endpoint capable of supporting up to 8 simulateous users in a call (4 visible at any one time). The best part is, you can run it with a standard Webcam and still get a pretty good picture at 300K bit/sec (it goes up to 768K bit/sec) and unlike some other desktop-based systems which limit you to users of the same software, you can call any H.323-based endpoint with PowerPlay. At $595 for the entry level product (supports up to 3 users in a single call), the price isn’t bad either. Polycom’s ViaVideo desktop unit is priced slightly less, but doesn’t have the MCU capability.

Of course, like all H.323 systems, PowerPlay can be plagued by restrictive firewalls, which was the case in my test. I had to have our IS department set me up with a connection to our DMZ, which isn’t available from my cube, so I had to truck down the hall with my stuff to make the conference happen, plus I had to swap my DHCP-assigned address for a static IP address. If you’re on a VPN and are trying to connect from home (or on the road) to the home office, the VPN itself should help get you through the firewall and complete the connection.

PowerPlay doesn’t quite solve all the issues mentioned in my story, but it’s another option to look at when rolling out videoconferencing to far-flung staff.