As web meetings become ubiquitous, they also are becoming easier to use and more affordable every day. When choosing an online meeting solution, companies today consider the ease of use and deployment of the technology, the scalability, the available integration options and the overall quality of the software and the outputted media. But with so many choices out there (software, hosted or appliance), it might sometimes be difficult to pick from the ones that best suits your needs.
Pierre Kerbage recently became the VP of sales and marketing at RHUB Appliances, a company specializing in remote support and web conferencing appliances for businesses of all sizes. While everyone is raging about the cloud and hosted solutions, RHUB stays focused on building self-hosted solutions for web conferencing.
What follows is a paper written by Pierre Kerbage explaining what the possible disadvantages of hosted web conferencing tools are, and why appliance based solutions may be the preferred option of choice for companies and organizations.
Hosted Web Conferencing Issues
Price, branding and flexibility are three of the main considerations when choosing a meeting solution, so let’s take a look at what the potential issues with hosted web conferencing solutions may be on these points:
1. The “Pay Forever” Model
- Hosted subscription based services means recurring fees and $$$ – you never stop paying and you never own it.
2. Branding Someone Else? Gee, Thanks!
- Hosted subscription based services often means that you cannot brand the service to your company. Why advertise someone else’s services?
Limited Attendance and Frustrations = Higher IT Costs and Increased Complexity
- Hosted subscription based services require a download to your PC. Corporate firewall or group policies often block downloads to desktops = attendee may not join meeting
- If you are not administrator of your own PC (which is often the case in many companies), you will not be able to download and run external programs/apps as required by hosted forever pay subscription based services
- Operating system or device compatibility issues (Windows 7 Mobile? Windows 8 Mobile? Latest Android OS i.e. Jelly Beans? iOS 6? Windows 8? Apple MAC 10.7?) = attendee may not join meeting
- Antivirus product can be blocking the downloads = attendee may not join meeting
- Incompatible browsers = attendee may not join meeting
- User fear of accepting a download = attendee may not join meeting
- All of the above problems can significantly increase complexity, costs and increase IT work, or worse, having to lower your security shield to enable hosted services to work (i.e. remove antivirus from desktop or lower company Group Policy Object (GPO) security
3. Not Flexible, Non-Brandable
- The inability to embed meetings into your own corporate website
- The inability to make it compliant with LDAP and Active Directory
Industry experts have stated that only a fraction of the desktops can join a meeting. A meeting missing one key attendee can be a failed meeting. Hosted solutions do not provide adequate access security for many users since all that is needed is a password and meeting ID – which are usually distributed via unsecured email over the Web – a passing person can see this or anyone who has access to your Exchange Calendar (often shared between employees) – now can see and attend the entire meeting. All it takes is one employee sharing your calendar or passing by to send that meeting info to an external source, and the meeting session is now jeopardized
Advantages of Appliance-Based Web Meetings
You own it and, there are no monthly recurring fees or pay forever models. Hold as many meetings as you would like with as many hosts. The license manager only counts concurrent meetings/attendees, not names users. The appliance installs in under 10 minutes.
When sending meetings to attendees for viewing seminars/webinars, – with the RHUB WebView technology, there is nothing to download – so no firewalls will stop them, or group policies – and no antivirus will block the meeting. The host sends out a URL not a file to download. When the attendee clicks on it, they join the meeting in less than 5 seconds – not minutes, thus guaranteeing the attendance. If the attendees can get to Google maps, they can join your meeting. Furthermore, all sessions can be recorded and then saved to FLASH or AVI so you can post these to your website, YouTube or other appropriate sites. You own and control the recording – not the hosted company.
And there are more reasons to opt for appliance-based meeting solutions, here are just seventeen more reasons:
- It installs in 10 minutes on your LAN or anywhere
- It works on a concurrent model not named licenses. So anyone can use it (whom you allow)
- It is fast (Screen refreshes are clearer and better than hosted models)
- If you are holding meetings internally, unlike hosted models, you don’t go up to the cloud and consumer your internet bandwidth – it is all internal and screen refreshes are at network speeds, so they’re lightning fast
- The quality of the Audio Bridge is superior (HD codecs) to other models. Attendees can join by dialing a phone number or completely free using VoIP
- It is brandable – it will have your company name logos all over (not the Webex or GoToMeeting logos, or others). The exit page can be tailored to your messages – very helpful for sales/marketing webinars
- You can embed it and integrate it with and in your websites and applications You can see examples at Cloeren.com
- It also allows your techs to use this as a report support tool; it allows a technician to control another user’s desktop and access unattended servers/PCs
- It is extremely secure; you have complete control over meeting access including by IP address
- It includes video conferencing and file transfer features. The host can send out files to 1, select attendees or all attendees at the same time
- It includes remote printing. The host can issue a print job and it will print at 1, select attendees or all attendees (I think remote printing is only available in the remote support/remote access mode – need to check)
- It includes chat. Attendees can chat with each other or host can chat with each or all
- Automatic reconnect – Should an attendee’s internet disconnect or go out, the second it comes back, the session is auto joined. No need to do anything
- Host can choose to have attendees put their email before they can join – thus capturing the emails
- Reporting is included telling the host who has joined, when, from where and capturing start and end time as well as their name and email
- Provided the unit is on the LAN and you have maintenance, the firmware is updated automatically with no user intervention (admin or user side). The vendor protects you from obsolescence
- It includes remote control – the ability to access your own computer remotely