When we talk about business class video networking, we definitely don’t mean Skype and its many cousins. Of course Skype is perfectly usable, most of the time, but its also all too often flaky, drops out unexpectedly or even just refuses to work when its having a bad day. The beauty of Skype is its value for money. Its free therefore VFM = ∞. However this only goes to show that value for money is not everything. It clearly isn’t. When dealing with customers, potential or existing, talking internally within an organisation, perhaps to a room full of people, or even just delivering training videos to the consumer, the requirement begins at the statement that it just needs to work.
Lets look at the reasons why network video traffic is so different.
Networked video generally exists in two flavours. Real time and Non real time. Non real time video is usually stored on a server and is compressed. Depending on the complexity of the compression algorithm, a tradeoff between quality versus transfer speed ensures that the file is transferred at a speed which is (usually) greater than the speed at which the video is being watched. Realtime video however is a very different animal and requires very specific and different network conditions.
Consider exactly what is happening across the network. At a location somewhere on the network video is being encoded into a data stream and fed into the network. That data stream must then cross the network with minimal delay and be reconstituted so that it can be decoded and ultimately viewed on a screen. Delay is the key here although there are other major considerations. Consistent delay can be dealt with albeit is not great on a video conference. The system will buffer the necessary data in order to overcome the delay and from there things pretty much work. When the delay is inconsistent and unpredictable we then see the real challenge. In these conditions, certain parts of the data may be late because the network dropped them and a retransmit was requested. For the most part however the drop simply results in glitches in sound and picture. Artefacts on the screen as the clever video engineers like to euphemistically call them.
So, next time you’re sitting watching someone failing miserably to conduct an interview from home over their Skype console on the national news. Consider for a moment exactly what is not present in their network connection and conversely, when you’re watching a high quality video conference consider perhaps exactly how good the network in between must be.
Its not all about the network however, important as it undoubtedly is. The quality of the equipment in use at the endpoints of networked video connections play a major part in the overall experience. To take a look at the equipment that we at Rustyice sanction, sell and support click here.