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planning a video conferencing or telepresence project INDUSTRY GUIDE

Summer 2013 By Richard Tucker

512.828.7317 • •


Table of Contents 1. Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2. Understand the solution types and components. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Solution types. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Immersive telepresence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Solution components. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Tech corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 3. Understand the potential budget ranges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Budget ranges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Immersive room build. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 4. Understand the potential project timelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Timelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 5. Understand the market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Market size. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Vendor leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Supporting service providers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

6. Determine your requirements . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Approach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Business requirements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Functional requirements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Technical requirements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 7. Get hands-on experience. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Approach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Make a checklist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Potential questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 8. Select your provider. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Approach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Timelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Potential pre-qualification questions. . . . . . . . 22 Request for proposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 9. Implement the solution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Timelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Lessons learned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 10. About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 11. About Human Productivity Lab. . . . . . . . . . 30

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1. Summary


his guide provides the information you need to make an end-to-end plan for your telepresence or video conferencing project. In this guide, “telepresence” means either

“telepresence” or “video conferencing.” This guide is based on the experiences and lessons learned by end user organisations that have implemented telepresence projects, from personal systems to immersive room systems.

This guide is structured as follows: • Understand the solution types and components — This section provides a foundation on the basics of telepresence. • Understand the potential budget ranges — This section provides guidance on a budget that is vendor neutral and requirements neutral. The objective is to highlight what drives the budget and how much range to expect. • Understand the potential project timelines — This section highlights what drives the timelines and the ranges possible. • Understand the market — This section provides a high-level overview of the market, including equipment vendors and supporting service providers. • Determine your requirements — This section provides guidance on the key requirements and their considerations. • Get hands-on experience — This section provides guidance on what to look for during solution demonstrations. • Select your provider — This section provides guidance on how to best select your provider, using the previous sections to make an informed decision. • Implement the solution — This section provides practical guidance on the solution implementation and considerations for the longer-term solution operation.



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2. Understand the solution types and components


his section provides a high-level understanding of the types and components of a telepresence solution. The remainder of this guide will refer to the types and

components defined in this section. Solution types Telepresence definitions vary between manufacturers. However, the following three types are generally accepted: • Multi-screen room systems — These are often dedicated rooms purpose-built for group telepresence. • Single-screen room systems — These are often installed in rooms that operate as general meeting rooms. Group conferencing is also possible. However, the multi-purpose nature of the room can mean a lower-quality telepresence experience when compared to multi-screen room systems. • Personal systems — By definition, these systems are for individual use. These include systems that often double as computer monitors and software systems that run as a client on a laptop.

Clockwise from top left: multi-screen room system, singlescreen room system, personal system that doubles as a computer monitor, and personal system leveraging a tablet.

The following table shows the relative differences between solution types: TABLE 1 — TELEPRESENCE SYSTEMS TYPES Number of local users

Multi-screen room system

Single screen room system

Personal system

Small or large groups

Small groups


Dedicated room Yes Cost

Sometimes No

Very high


Dedicated equipment Yes Immersive



Low Sometimes

Sometimes No

As can be seen above, multi-screen room systems have a very high relative cost. This is due to the investment to achieve an immersive experience. A full definition of “immersive” follows next. © copyright Human Productivity Lab 2013




Immersive Telepresence An immersive solution aims to make you feel like you are sitting in the same room as your videoconnected colleagues. The point at which a solution becomes immersive is arbitrary, but the more techniques used, the more effective the result. The following table provides a list of features generally agreed to contribute to an immersive solution: TABLE 2 — FEATURES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO AN IMMERSIVE EFFECT Feature

Immersive contribution


Life-size images provide the most significant immersive contribution. Life-size images can be a challenge when you have more participants than screen real estate. Either you maintain life-size images by using voice activation to switch video between active speakers or you reduce participant size to keep all participants on screen. Some solutions achieve this by allowing both options. This image shows how participant size has been reduced on the left side of the screen:

Eye contact

There is a significant increase in participant engagement when eye contact is established. This effect is better when the cameras are aligned to the eyes of the displayed participant. Some companies achieve this by using a screen that can display images while also having a camera directly behind, at eye level.

Background consistency

Having the walls, tables and carpets identical across telepresence rooms allows them to naturally blend together. The more effectively this is done the more likely you will feel the video participants are in the same room and vice versa. This effect is further enhanced when screens bezels are removed. Some companies achieve this by projecting the video-connected participants onto a transparent screen, removing any chance of difference between backgrounds. At right, Huddle 70 room by DVE

(Table 2 continues on next page)



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Immersive contribution


Regular office lighting has the objective of illuminating horizontal surfaces such as desks and tables. Telepresence lighting includes emphasis on horizontal lighting to illuminate faces, rendering more lifelike video in the process. Some companies achieve this by building horizontal lighting into their systems.


Directional audio, especially in multi-screen rooms, means audio and picture location is matched. Some solutions will allow you to tell if the video participant is seated on the left or the right side of the display just by closing your eyes.


An immersive effect is enhanced when all participants can talk and listen without raising their voice or straining to hear. Immersive systems recognise that, much like in recording studios, the best result from a microphone is achieved in a sound-proof room without echo. Combined with quality directional speakers, the resulting audio will feel like all participants are in the same room. For long meetings this significantly reduces fatigue. Many solutions achieve this result by specifying ceiling, wall and floor finishes to reduce echo and sound proof the room.

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Solution components Irrespective of the type of end point, the following diagram illustrates the key components of a telepresence solution together with three example traffic flows: • Point-to-point call — Two end points in a video conference using the network to connect. • Multipoint call using an endpoint with MCU capability — Three end points in a video conference using Multi Conference Unit (MCU) capability in one of the end points to bridge a multi-party video conference. • Multipoint call using the MCU, including gateway call to Company B — Three end points in a video conference using a central MCU to create a multi-party video conference. In addition, a participant from Company B is included by using a gateway to travel between Company A and Company B networks.




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The following table provides details of each component: TABLE 3 — COMPONENTS OF A TELEPRESENCE SOLUTION End point

Each end point, regardless of type, has the following: • Camera/s • Microphone/s • Speakers • Screen/s • Controller (handheld remote or desktop touch panel). • Signal processing resources to establish and then code and decode video and audio. These may also include local room processing to remove echo.

Multipoint Conference Units (MCU)

MCU provide the functionality to join multiple parties into the same conference.


Gateways provide functionality to connect to other systems on either the same or different networks. They include the following abilities: • Connect to other types of telepresence systems. • Connect to systems across different networks including the Internet, ISDN or private IP networks. • Manage traffic and capacity between systems and across networks. • Create security boundaries between networks.

MCU functionality is available directly from an end point or on centralised resources. Some high-level considerations include the following: • End-point-based MCU provides dedicated capacity to the end point. It also becomes the aggregating point for all video streams, enabling the conference to occur. • Centralised MCU provides capacity that can be shared across all end points. The aggregation of video streams can reduce network load to remote sites while also using MCU processing units more efficiently. • A centralised MCU is usually not cost effective for small end point deployments. • This functionality can be provided by third party exchanges so long as you have a connection to the third party exchange to start with. • Centralised MCU functionality is increasingly becoming available on virtual platforms such as VMware.

This functionality can be provided by third party exchanges so long as you have a connection to the third party exchange to start with. Network Bandwidth

The network bandwidth required to carry traffic between end points, gateways and MCU varies between 256kbps and 18Mbps. The considerations that determine this include the following: • Number of screens — the more screens for a given resolution the more bandwidth required. • Video resolution — the higher the resolution the higher the bandwidth. • MCU location — the MCU location influences how bandwidth is aggregated. (Table 3 continues on next page)

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Management systems, and related actions, include the following: • Monitoring health and usage of end points, MCUs and gateways. • Allocating network bandwidth and MCU resources according to capacity. • Booking, scheduling and setting up conferences. • Provisioning software upgrades. • Proactively scanning rooms at regular intervals to check functionality. • Providing live help to users booking or participating in a conference. The above functionality is sometimes referred to as the scope of a Video Network Operations Centre (VNOC). VNOCs can be established within end user organisations or outsourced to third parties.


 The importance of management systems is often underestimated. Poor management systems can

make even the best end points unreliable and difficult to use. Quality management systems will enable you to maximise system performance, increase reliability and provide insight into how the systems is being used.

 Often organisations focus most effort on end-point vendor selection when completing a telepres-

ence project. This section clearly shows there are many other technology components and factors to consider in an end-to-end solution. This will be important to remember when selecting provider/s in Section 8.



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This section provides a very brief overview of the protocols and standards used for telepresence. Signalling protocols — Signalling protocols define how a call is established between end points. H.323 and SIP are the most common. Resolution and frame rates — Resolution defines the number of pixels that make up an image. Common resolutions with horizontal and vertical pixel count in brackets include CIF (352 x 240), 4CIF (704 x 480), 720p (1280 × 720) and 1080p (1920 × 1080). The relative difference in total pixels is shown in the below diagram. High definition is accepted as starting from 720p. Frame rate is the number of frames per second that provide video. Common values start at 30 frames per second with 60 frames for better-quality video.


Video standards — Video signals rely on network connections to travel between end points. To make the most efficient use of this network connection, various standards exist to compress the signal. As illustrated in the left diagram, in general, the bit rate required to transmit a given video signal decreases as compression complexity increases. DIAGRAM 3 — RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPRESSION COMPLEXITY AND BIT RATE

Common compression standards, in increasing complexity, are H.261, H.263 and H.264. H.264 has many versions available, including a version used for Blue-ray discs and YouTube. Much industry attention has been given to the Scalable Video Coding (SVC) version of H.264, which allows end points with different resolution and frame-rate capabilities to communicate without the need for transcoding (e.g. taking a 1080p signal from a HD room system and transcoding the resolution into a 360p signal for a tablet device). Transcoding requires processing capacity, so if this can be avoided, it saves cost. H.264 SVC avoids the need for transcoding by providing a bit stream with multiple resolutions and frame rates. Audio standards — Common standards for coding and decoding voice include G711 (non-compressed), G.729 (compressed) and G.722 (wideband audio). Data-sharing standards — H.239 is a common standard for enabling end points to share content (for example, PowerPoint slides). Using H.239 with a telepresence system is sometimes called “people and content.” Interoperability standards — Single-screen systems from different vendors and between different organisations can communicate using the standards identified above. A key part of initial negotiation between end points is determining common capabilities and agreeing the standard to use. However, multi-screen systems do not have an industry standard for connectivity. Cisco has released the Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) to facility interoperability, but interoperability is limited between organisations that choose to adopt the protocol. © copyright Human Productivity Lab 2013




3. Understand the potential budget ranges


his section provides guidance on the budget ranges possible. This, together with the next section on timelines, will provide context when you review the market and

consider your requirements later in this guide. You will refine your budget when selecting your provider, as covered in Section 8. Budget ranges The following table should be used as a guide only, due to variances between vendor solutions and configurations, such as redundant equipment. The table shows how the average cost per end point over five years can vary from about $10K to over $1 million. TABLE 4 — POTENTIAL BUDGET RANGES OF A TELEPRESENCE SOLUTION

Multi-screen Single-screen Personal room system room system systems

Upfront1 Per end points $300K Core $150K Immersive room build $100K2

$30K $0 to $5K $150K $150K 2 $50K Not applicable

Ongoing (per month per room) Network $10K Management $3K

$0K3 $0K3 $1K $100

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over 5 years

e.g. four end points = $4.6M

e.g. four end points = $1.7M

($1.45 upfront + $3.12M ongoing) (230K upfront + $60K ongoing)

Average TCO per end point $1.15M

e.g. 40 ends = $360K

(up to $350K upfront + $6K ongoing)



1 Assumes all equipment is purchased (“purchase model”) with 30% discount off RRP including installation. “Video as a service” models (no upfront equipment to purchase) are available for the core, which effectively decrease the upfront and increase the ongoing costs. From a total budget guidance perspective, the total cost of ownership is comparable between a “purchase model” or “video as a service” model, as core costs are not a significant component. 2 Room build costs vary greatly. See Immersive section that follows. 3 With just four rooms often existing, network bandwidth can be used without impact.



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Immersive room build The budget considerations for immersive solutions are outlined in the following table: TABLE 5 — BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS FOR IMMERSIVE SOLUTIONS Feature Consideration Room size

Multi-screen room sizes can be quite large. For example, the Polycom 8 seat solution requires floor space of almost 5.5m by 6.5m (or 18ft by 22ft). Determine if you have the required space or if you will need to extend your target room.

Sound proofing

Walls, ceilings and floors will need treatment to make the room soundproof.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning modifications often involve moving the fan-cooling unit in the ceilings away from the telepresence room to meet noise specifications. An increase of the air conditioning capacity may also be needed to handle the additional heat from the room equipment.


Immersive specifications aim for an even vertical and horizontal distribution of light. This eliminates shadow and bright spots, which in turn provides much better quality video. Standard office lighting will not meet this requirement.


Finishes includes wall paint, carpet, ceiling and doors. The specifications for finishes will have acoustic objectives (to reduce echo in the room) and also to keep all rooms looking the same to enhance the immersive effect.

Average room costs will vary greatly given the above considerations. More remediation is often required in multi-screen rooms as vendor specifications are more rigid (i.e. less optional remediation) and room size is more likely to need extension. An average of $100K per multi screen room and $50K per single screen room is not unusual for large-scale deployments. LESSONS LEARNED

 The total cost of ownership for room systems is very sensitive to the ongoing costs, particularly when the solution life is often five years.

 Personal systems can have very low upfront costs. This occurs for software only solutions that leverage a user’s PC for video, audio and processing.

 The ongoing costs of personal systems can also be very low. This is because of the significantly lower bandwidth requirement.

 Vendor immersive specifications are similar, so you can use any specification to get budgetary

guidance on the room build from a building contractor. This will help prevent surprises and delays later in your project.

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4. Understand the potential project timelines This section provides guidance on the potential project timelines. This, together with the preceding section on budget, will provide context when you review the market and consider your requirements later in this guide. You will refine your project timelines when selecting your provider, as covered in section 8.

Timelines The below table provides a guide on project timelines. In general, the milestones require sequential execution. It may be possible to compress timelines by determining your requirements while getting hands-on experience. However, to keep the timelines conservative, this is not assumed. Each milestone aligns to a section of this guide, which provides the supporting detail. TABLE 6 — POTENTIAL PROJECT TIMELINES Milestone

Duration (weeks)


Further detail

Know the market 1

This is primarily a research exercise, so can be done quite quickly if time is dedicated.

Section 5

Determine 3 requirements

Assumes a week to define require ments, a week for stakeholder review within your organisation and a week for formal requirements signoff.

Section 6

Get hands on 2 experience

Two weeks is allowed, as demonstra tions can take time to arrange and loan equipment is not always available.

Section 7

Select your 10-14 provider

Includes pre-selection process, RFP process and contract process.

Section 8

Implement the 16 solution

Includes conceptual and detailed design, WAN link installation (if applicable), room remediation (if applicable), MCU/ bridge installation (if applicable), end-point installation, operational readiness, testing and end-user training and promotion.

Section 9

TOTAL 32-36



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 Project timelines can be dramatically reduced if you already have a preferred provider and can

skip many of the activities in the 10–14 weeks allocated for selecting a provider. Keep this in mind when reviewing the above table and see Section 8 for more detail.

 Project implementation is highly sensitive to the type of solution required. An immersive room

system that requires WAN upgrades will take significantly longer than deploying software-based personal systems using outsourced MCU and bridging services. Keep this in mind when reviewing the above table and see Section 9 for more detail.

5. Understand the market


his section is not a substitute for completing your own market research. Rather, this section is intended to help you target additional research that will benefit your project.

Market size

Vendor leaders

The size of the global telepresence market is outlined in the below table. As can be seen, room-based telepresence is over half the market, with immersive and personal systems less than 10% each.

The market share of the leading vendors is identified in the below table. Cisco (which includes the former Tandberg) has just over half the market. Polycom is the only other vendor with more than 5%.



Product type

% of market


% of market

Telepresence 54.9

Cisco 50.6

Video MCU


Polycom 26.3

Immersive telepresence


Lifesize 5.0

Personal videoconferencing


Teliris 2.6

Others 7.2

Vidyo 2.5


Others 13.1 TOTAL 100

Source: IDC Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing and Telepresence Market Share by Product Type (Factory Revenue), Q4 2011.

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Source: IDC Top Five Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing and Telepresence Vendors, Revenue Market Share, Q1 2012.




Supporting service providers The vendors identified in the previous section provide the end points and core systems to establish conferences. To create an end-to-end solution, many additional components are required. The below table identifies the additional supporting service providers to consider: TABLE 9 — SUPPORTING SERVICE PROVIDERS Provider type



Equipment vendor partners

Telecommunications companies, systems integrators and specialised video products and services companies who sell vendor equipment directly to end user organisations.


Network providers

Provide the connectivity between equipment on your organisation’s network or on external networks.

Masergy, AT&T, BT, Orange Business Services, Tata Communications Services

Video services providers

Provide hosted MCU and bridging services. Also provide management services such as booking, monitoring and issue resolution.

Glowpoint, Teliris, Bluejeans

System integrators

Systems integrators aggregate the various products and services identified in this table to provide an end-to-end solution. Some end user organisations may choose to do this themselves.

IBM, Dimension Data


 To help maximise the quality of the end-to-end solution, vendors will often certify or provide

guidelines to providers of the additional solution components. For example; Polycom has a Certified Immersive Telepresence VNOC Service Provider List and Cisco has a guideline on Delivering a Cisco TelePresence Network Connection Service. If your organisation decides to act as a systems integrator, make sure you understand the certifications required.



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6. Determine your requirements


he reference point for evaluating the success of your project will be the requirements you define. Requirements definitions that are incomplete or do not have stakeholder support jeopardise your project success. This section provides guidance on the requirements to consider and how to use the resulting defined requirements to reach a successful project outcome. Approach For this section we separate requirements into three categories: • Business requirements — These are the primary requirements for your project and directly feed into your project business case (project business case is not covered in this guide, however). Once implemented, the business requirements will be used to measure the success of the project. • Functional requirements — These requirements are determined with reference to the business requirements. Functional requirements provide the detail on how the business requirements will be delivered. • Technical requirements — These requirements will need to be considered when determining the functional requirements. It may be that the technical requirements place either limitations or opportunities on the functional requirements possible. Technical requirements include considerations on alignment to IT strategies.

Business requirements Business requirements need to be defined by the business stakeholders of the project, not by IT or technical stakeholders. Business requirements should be both outcome-based and measurable. If they are not outcome-based, it is hard to define how they will be achieved. If they are not measurable, it is difficult to define when they are achieved. Some examples of business requirements are below: • Save 10% of executive travel costs by providing an effective alternative to face-to-face board meetings. • Enable executives to meet “face-to-face” when travel time would otherwise only permit a telephone meeting. • Reduce travel costs for design staff by 10% by providing an effective alternative to sharing of concepts that require face-to-face demonstrations. • Reduce hiring time for international staff by one week and save $5,000 by providing an alternative to flying potential candidates for interviews. • Enable sales engineers in New York to support customer meetings in a new London office without needing to hire a sales engineer there. • Enable training staff in one city to provide face-to-face training to offices in other cities/ countries without needing to hire/pay for training staff in other locations. © copyright Human Productivity Lab 2013




Functional requirements The following table provides a list of common functional requirements that organisations need to consider. These are provided to stimulate thought and ensure the requirements reflect the needs of your organisation. TABLE 10 – COMMON FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO CONSIDER Requirement Consideration


Do you want an immersive or non-immersive solution?

Immersive solutions attempt to make participants feel like they are in the same room. A system that has life-size images, camera angles that achieve eye contact and highdefinition video helps to achieve this. These solutions have stringent requirements on the room environment such as lighting, acoustics and even wall color to enhance the immersive effect. See section 2 for more information on achieving immersive solutions.

How important is it to connect to other telepresence, video or telephone systems?

Consider the needs of travelling executives, external company directors or even organisations you work closely with. This will require consideration of public room availability and interoperability with other telepresence solutions.

How many people need to use the system?

There may be board meetings that may have larger groups than normal. Also consider systems for individual users (e.g. in executive offices, home workers or users who travel).

How important is it to share PC content?

Consider the type of content (e.g. static PowerPoint versus detailed Excel versus movie files) and the type of content displays (dedicated individual or larger common displays).

How much space do you have?

Do you have the physical room space required without the need for extensions? (The space required for a 6+ seat room can be very surprising.)

Do you want dedicated or shared use rooms?

Are there tradeoffs between the telepresence experience and room flexibility?

Which cities and countries might you expand to in the future?

What is the capability of solution supply and support in those regions?

How intuitive is the system to find other locations and establish a conference?

Consider if you expect users to self-serve or not.

Do you need a live service to take conference-booking requests and a live service to assist users who need help?

What resources, tools and expertise are required?

What level of service avail- ability do you require?

This is important as service levels greater than 99% often require redundant solutions to meet availability levels. For example, two or more MCUs or bridges and dual WAN links to a site.

Do you want to be able to record conferences?

How do you want to distribute recordings of the conferences? Who should recordings be available for? What sort of storage do you require (from a security and time perspective)?


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Technical requirements You will need to consider the functional requirements outlined earlier when you think about your technical requirements. It may be that certain functional requirements are not possible or that some functional requirements not considered can be delivered with relatively low effort. The following table provides a list of technical requirements to consider: TABLE 11 — COMMON TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS TO CONSIDER Requirement Consideration Security

Are telepresence conferences to be treated just as unencrypted telephone calls, or is there a business need for additional security such as encryption and physical constraints to rooms (e.g. swipe card access)? What constraints will your IT security policy place on connecting with third-party networks?


What is the existing capacity and utilization of your network connecting target telepresence locations? Is there sufficient spare capacity to cover telepresence traffic and will the network support real-time, delay-sensitive traffic?

Legacy video

If applicable, will your legacy video technologies support interoperability with modern telepresence systems? If not, what upgrades are required?

Alignment to Unified Communications strategies

Do you have an existing Unified Communications strategy covering desktop clients for presence, instant messaging and video? If so, how does this strategy align to the telepresence technologies and, in particular, personal telepresence systems providing video on user desktops?

Alignment to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies

Do you have an existing BYOD strategy covering the devices available for personal communications? If so how does this strategy align to the telepresence technologies and, in particular, providing video on user smartphones or tablet PCs?

Alignment to outsource strategies

Does your organization have a strategy to outsource or in-source technologies? How does this influence your approach to telepresence and to integration (if applicable) to existing technologies?

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 When defining requirements, involve all stakeholders from your organization, including business stakeholders, operations teams and technical teams so that missed requirements do not cause project delays.

 Keep the requirements in draft status until after getting hands-on experience. Some requirements, such as the importance of an immersive experience, cannot be assessed by a paper-only exercise.

 Have all stakeholders sign off the requirements, even when in draft status, so that there is a formal baseline for the next phases of the project.

 The requirements you define as a result of this section should be used as the basis of all decisions. If necessary update the requirements, but do not make decisions without ensuring they are consistent with the requirements. If you keep this strict approach you will avoid delivering a solution that misses a requirement.

 Note that none of the business requirements examples provided in this section actually mention

“telepresence.” It may be possible to meet the business requirements listed without using telepresence, e.g. travel costs could be reduced by 10% by renegotiating prices with a travel supplier. It is important that business requirements are technology-independent, as technology is an enabler, rather than an outcome. This approach helps avoid any uncertainty about the validity of the business requirements at a later point in the project.

 Having an existing telepresence solution (perhaps referred to in legacy terms as “video confer-

encing”) may provide valuable insight. Determine why this existing solution does not meet the business requirements for your telepresence project to make sure you have addressed all deficiencies and do not repeat any past mistakes.



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7. Get hands-on experience


he primary objective of getting hands-on experience is not to select your provider/s. Rather, it is to experience the range of solutions possible to validate your require-

ments. For example, deciding the importance of an immersive solution requires the effect to be experienced. Approach Since it is impractical to get hands-on experience of each provider, consider taking the following approaches: • Use your requirements — Focus on experiencing any of the defined requirements that were difficult to decide on. Use the hands-on experience opportunity to refine the requirements. Remove any providers you are certain cannot meet a requirement. • Use your market research — You can make more informed judgements on where to focus your time if you already understand the vendors and supporting service provider solutions. • Align to your procurement policies — If your organisation has a policy of using existing IT providers whenever possible, then understand what telepresence products and services they provide and determine if there is gap against your requirements • Aim for contrast — Get at least two equipment vendor demonstrations so you can contrast solutions • Take another look — Remember that you can always get another round of hands-on experience as part of the provider short listing and formal provider selection process. It is important to note that getting hands-on experience applies to equipment vendors but also to all the supporting service providers. We suggest this can be achieved through the following: • Demonstrations — Book sessions with equipment vendors at their demonstration centers. Check if any of the demonstration centers include integration with supporting services that may be of interest, e.g. VNOC services. • Borrow equipment — Borrow equipment for use in your company. This can be especially useful to personal telepresence systems when combined with externally provided MCU services (i.e. no core network required to be installed). • Peer companies — Find other companies who use the same equipment or services you are interested in. This can be accomplished through your own networks, telepresence user groups or provider referrals. • Trial services — Most video service providers have trials available to use their hosted MCU and bridging services. © copyright Human Productivity Lab 2013




Make a checklist Use the following points to make a checklist for assessing the solution demonstrations: • Prepare a feature list — Make a list of the features that you want to see in advance of the demonstration. Make sure all features can be demonstrated, in particular those features related to interoperability. • Keep a record — As each feature is demonstrated, keep a record of the result. It can be easy to miss a feature or forget the result. This will help when comparing results across solution demonstrations. • Do not just watch — As features are demonstrated, ask to try them directly yourself. You will get a first-hand view of how user-friendly the system is, and problems will be highlighted rather than stepped over. • Have a real meeting — To get a true feel for the meeting experience, take at least 30 minutes and complete a real meeting. The longer you spend in a connected conference, the more you will appreciate the subtlety of the experience.

Potential questions Some potential questions you may wish to ask at the hands-on session are: • If observing an immersive system, how many of the features identified in Section 2 are used? • Can you demonstrate how the system interconnects with telepresence systems from other vendors? (Consider both single and multi-screen systems.) • Can you demonstrate how laptop data is shared and how, if possible, this is done with another vendor solution? • Can you demonstrate how a user establishes a multi-point call? • How is a multi-point call affected when one of the connected systems has a poor connection? (Is only that connection affected or does it affect the overall quality of the call?) • Can you demonstrate a meeting set to auto-start at a designated time? • Can you demonstrate integration with calendaring tools such as Microsoft Outlook to simplify the scheduling of calls? • Can you demonstrate connecting audio-only participants to a telepresence call and how is this done? (Consider how easily a user or admin person can complete this task.) • Can you demonstrate how calls are both placed and accepted? (Consider calls within your organization and also to external end points.) • Can you demonstrate how the system upscales lower-resolution systems that join the call so they are seen at higher quality in telepresence rooms? • Can you demonstrate connections with SIP and H.323 systems simultaneously? 20


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 Demonstrations and loan equipment can take many weeks to organize. To prevent delays,

make requests with solution providers and with attendees from within your company as soon as possible.

 The quality of telepresence experiences can be quite subjective. For this reason make sure your target users are included as part of the real meeting organised using telepresence. This is an excellent method to gain user input into the selection process.

 When you finish getting hands on experience, revisit you requirements document and verify that they are still valid and re-release to your stakeholders.

8. Select your provider


his section helps you select the provider or providers who will deliver the best valuefor-money telepresence solution to your company.

Approach This is best achieved by first completing a provider pre-qualification process and then inviting the more promising providers to a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Completing a pre-qualification process as an input to the formal selection process has the following advantages: • Relevant and quality proposals from the formal selection process — It allows the formal selection process to target providers who you already know have attractive proposals rather than getting distracted by proposals that are not viable. It also lets providers know that if invited for a formal response, you will seriously consider their proposal. • Refined budget estimates — By asking for budgetary guidance, it provides the first opportunity to refine the estimate made in section 3. • Refined timeline estimates — By asking for timeline estimates, it provides the first opportunity to refine the estimate made in section 4. • Clarifying formal selection approach — By asking appropriate questions about product and services capabilities, you can verify the best way to approach the formal RFP process. For example, do you need separate network and equipment procurement approaches, or do you need a single provider of an end-to-end integrated solution?

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Timelines The below table provides a guide on the selection process timelines: TABLE 12 — TIMELINE FOR THE OVERALL SELECTION PROCESS Milestone

Duration (weeks)


Pre-qualification 3 process

Allow one week for initial shortlist, one week for providers to respond to a questionnaire and one week to review and finalize the shortlist.

Prepare an RFP


This assumes you start preparing the RFP concurrent to the pre-qualification process.

2 – 4

In the pre-qualification process, ask providers how long they need to respond to the RFP, if invited.


This assumes a one-week intensive evaluation followed by one week to share the result with stakeholders before notifying provider/s.

Time for responses Evaluation

Contract 2 – 4 preparation TOTAL

The process will be longer if with multiple providers or for global contracts requiring local agreements in different regions.

11 – 15

Potential pre-qualification questions An effective pre-qualification process will ask minimal questions and request short answers. This will mean you can ask many more providers to the pre-qualification process and efficiently filter the providers to invite to the formal selection process. The scope of the pre-qualification questions should be guided by your finalized requirements. If you are unsure on any requirements, the pre-qualification provides a further opportunity to make refinements. For example, if you are undecided about buying your own MCU equipment or using an externally provided service. To provide context to the providers, you will need to provide a statement of your requirements, or the options you are considering so they can respond to questions on budget and timelines. A list of potential pre-qualification question to choose from follows: • Please provide details (including third-party sub contract or resell arrangements) for any of the following product and services you provide: – Immersive telepresence room systems – Telepresence room systems 22


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– Personal telepresence systems – MCU or bridging products – Network services – Video services (hosted MCU, bridging services, booking services, monitoring services) – Systems integration (end-to-end solution integration and management) • Please state your experience in providing the above products and services. • Please provide budgetary guidance, with any options highlighted, on the statement of requirements. • Please provide a delivery timetable estimate, with any options highlighted, to meet the statement of requirements. • Do you have a facility to demonstrate the requirements identified? Are there any requirements that you cannot demonstrate? • Will you be able to provide three customer references relevant to the requirements identified?

Request for proposal The following checklist provides a guide in preparing your RFP or equivalent and the subsequent evaluation: M Use your requirements document and ask if the provider can deliver each item. M Include any relevant questions that you raised during the hands-on experience (section 7) and provider pre-selection. M Review the checklists provided in the implementation section (section 9) to decide if you want the provider to include any activities within RFP scope. M Specify that materials lists are clearly identified, including equipment they own and equipment you buy. M For completeness, include standard procurement items such as evaluation criteria, contract terms, method to treat variations, payment milestones, warranties, termination, etc. We assume your procurement department will have a standard process for covering these items.

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 Getting the right contact in the provider organization that can respond to pre-qualification and

RFP questions is not always easy. The provider will want to qualify you before applying any effort. For this reason, get your potential provider contacts early and let them know a pre-qualification process will be held.

 Before confirming the final providers, it can be useful to make sure all key stakeholders have

attended a demonstration of the end-point solution. This is only relevant if any key stakeholders were not available as part of the hands-on experience in section 7

 Make sure that provider availability claims are consistent with their IT architectures and sup-

porting professional services. For example, a bridging service with more than 99% availability will usually require redundant bridging equipment. Engineering support with an SLA of four hours onsite will not be possible to achieve if that support is a plane flight away.

 Providers will need to assume certain utilization levels to determine the capacity required to

meet your requirements. This is critical as capacity will influence price. For example, will the MCU require enough processing for five concurrent conferences or 10? As such, ask for capacity assumptions to be stated.

 If you require an immersive telepresence system, plan to identify and select a building contractor so that when you finalize your telepresence selection you can roll directly into starting the room remediation as required.

 Providers are aware some customers will prefer an end-to-end approach and develop a total

solution using sub-contract arrangements with third-party service or product providers. Understanding the sub-contract capability will become important in overall proposal evaluation.

 One item not covered in this guide but important in the formal provider selection is under-

standing how to migrate services away from the provider at contract conclusion. At some point, the future products and services will be replaced. Thus, understanding the potential complexity and cost may influence the evaluation process.



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9. Implement the solution


his section provides timelines and considerations for implementing your telepresence solution.

Timelines The below table provides a guide of potential implementation timelines. Adjust for what is relevant in your organisation. TABLE 13 — POTENTIAL IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINES Milestone

Duration (weeks)


Conceptual design


Conceptual design enables the technical approach to be formalised before spending time on detail. Key architectural items such as high availability, disaster recovery, network-interconnect points and bridging / MCU locations should all be determined.

Detailed design


The detailed design provides the level of information required for configuration of equipment to start. Details such as network addressing and firewall rules are included.

Equipment delivery


Equipment delivery obviously varies, so adjust this pending supplier advice.

Room remediation 6 (if applicable)

This is only applicable for immersive room environments. Room remediation will take up to six weeks if physical works such as sound-proofing walls or moving air conditioning cooling units are required. See section 2 for immersive-roombuild considerations.

MCU/ Bridge 2 installation (if applicable)

This is not applicable if third-party MCU and bridging services are used.

WAN link installation 8 (if applicable)

This is not applicable if you leverage your existing WAN. If you do, some time for auditing existing WAN performance and applying any necessary performance changes should be allowed.

Operational readiness


Define support processes and responsibilities for the operational phase of the solution.

End point installation


2 weeks assumes all locations can be installed in parallel.



Verify that both technology and processes work as expected.

End user promotion and training


Make users aware of the solution and comfortable using it.

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Most milestones require sequential execution, as their output drives the milestone that follows. The diagram below shows the upper duration for each milestone with a total duration of 16 weeks: DIAGRAM 4 — POTENTIAL IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINES

Checklist The following checklists may be useful when planning each of the implementation phases: CONCEPTUAL DESIGN

M Is the approach to providing each of the solution components in section 1 identified? M Can you clearly identify how each of your requirements defined in section 6 will be delivered? M Is the conceptual design consistent with the proposal provided by the successful RFP respondent? DETAILED DESIGN

M How will management services integrate? (e.g. monitoring services) M Is the approach to security detailed? (e.g. encryption of signalling or media, password management for administration or connectivity to third party devices and or networks) Consider the following items if you plan to use your existing network to provide connectivity between end points: M How will video traffic prioritization occur over other traffic? (i.e. how will your network bandwidth be allocated to video traffic and how will video traffic be tagged?) M How will network services such as network time, DHCP and directory services be provided? M How will your video-dial plan integrate into any existing dial plans? 26


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M If applicable, have you considered the logistics of establishing new WAN connections? (e.g. landlord approvals, external and internal building cable runs) M If applicable, have you considered the long lead time often required for WAN connections? EQUIPMENT DELIVERY

M Have you considered the space required to store your deliveries? (Room systems can take substantial space when first delivered. Immersive rooms can be more than a dozen pallets of equipment. If applicable, consider the receipt, storage and transport logistics within your site. Delivery is often to your building loading bay and no further). ROOM REMEDIATION

M Do you know what room remediation is required, if any? (Your provider will define the room remediation requirements for an immersive solution. Expect to do work on your ceiling, lighting, floors, walls, doors and air conditioning). M Do you know the power and network port requirements you need to provide? (The table locations will require power and network ports for use by the room participants, so expect to provide up to two power outlets and a network outlet per seat). END-POINT INSTALLATION

M Do you need to plan for installation outside of business hours? (i.e. do the rooms need to be used during the day by others?). M Have you got a plan to remove rubbish during the installation? (This is most relevant to immersive solutions where the packaging required for removal is significant). OPERATIONAL READINESS

M Do you have a process for assisting users who need help? M Do you have a process for users to establish conferences? M What is the process for how booking conflicts will be managed? M What is the process for addressing issues or problems? M Have you defined a role responsible for promoting, measuring and reporting if the telepresence solution is achieving the original business requirements defined? M Have you defined a role responsible for the overall service as the ultimate point of escalation for issues or problems? M Who is responsible for managing the service lifecycle? For example new feature releases, critical software or hardware updates, or vendor end of life announcements.

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M Who is responsible for reporting on, and managing as need be, service availability, service utilisation and solution capacity? M Is as-build documentation available that defines how the telepresence solution is configured? M Is there guidance that can be reused when additional end points are added to the solution? TESTING

M Have you tested that your room remediation meets the required criteria? (The test criteria provided by your supplier to confirm remediation completed for immersive purposes is acceptable. This can include tone generators to measure echo, light meters to measure lux levels and noise meters to measure sound proofing). M Can you test that each of your requirements defined in section 6 are met? (Use your defined requirements and complete appropriate tests for each item). M If applicable, can you prove that your WAN can support the necessary video traffic? (If you have new WAN connections, consider insisting on long-held traffic generators to prove the network stability). M Can you prove your network availability or redundancy? (Specifically verify equipment that includes redundancy or high availability). END-USER PROMOTION AND TRAINING

M Do you have a plan for walk-in days? (You may want to consider connecting conferences between several locations and invite users to walk in at anytime to experience telepresence. M Do you have online materials available? (This can be helpful for users who cannot make face-toface training and as a reference source for users to refresh themselves on functionality). M Do you have any user champions? (Initial training can tend to be forgotten or miss people who were out of the office. User champions provide a way for knowledge to be embedded into various part of the organization and thus hopefully continue to be passed on over time).


 Unlike personal telepresence systems, users often attend room-based telepresence systems without their computer. As such, it is helpful for each room system to clearly display how to connect a call and how to ask for help.

 Have a process-testing day where each process is validated through simulated cases. This can be an effective way to transfer processes from a written document into day to day action.



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10. About the author


ichard Tucker has extensive experience working with end user organizations to deliver telepresence solutions that meet busi-

ness objectives. This includes strategy development, procurement and implementation of telepresence and video conferencing solutions, both standalone, and as part of broader unified communications solutions. Example engagements include: • Consulting with a FTSE100 company to help them define their telepresence strategy. This included direct collaboration with the Chairman, CEO and members of the executive committee, and resulted in a telepresence solution that met their needs, • Leading the writing, evaluation, and recommendations of a competitive procurement process for a global telepresence solution, • Managing the implementation of video conferencing and supporting audio visual solutions into over 100 rooms for the new corporate headquarters of a financial institution, • Managing the delivery of a high definition video conferencing network to over 40 locations globally, including room fit out, end point implementation, network upgrades, integration to nearly 200 existing systems, core bridging and conferencing infrastructure replacement, and end user training/ promotion, and, • Managing the implementation of an immersive telepresence solution, including a cloud bridging and conferencing solution, to 10 locations, across Europe, Asia Pacific and Americas. Richard is project management certified, has IT operations qualifications, has an honours degree in Engineering, and a bachelor degree in Economics. Richard is a member of the AV User Group in the UK and a judge on the annual audio visual industry awards in the UK. You can contact Richard at:

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11. About the Human Productivity Lab


he Human Productivity Lab is the leading consultancy for organizations looking to deploy and future-proof visual col-

laboration solutions including videoconferencing, telepresence, streaming video, unified communications, and Video Network Operation Centers. The Human Productivity Lab offers organizations a host of advisory services including: • Visual Collaboration – Environment/Room Design & Network Design • Visual Collaboration for Agile Software Development & Scrum • RFP Creation, Bid Management and Oversight • Unified Communications – Design and Optimization • Video Network Operation Center & Video Call Center – Design, Build, Staff, and Train • Infrastructure and Environments • Video Recording, Archiving, and Streaming



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Visual Collaboration Expertise On-Tap

Rebekah AllendeVaux

• RFP Management & Oversight • Video Programmes, Playbooks & Training • Building Enterprise VNOCs

Scott AllendeVaux

• UC Enterprise Architecture • RFP Management & Oversight • Keynote Speeches on Emerging Technologies

Michael Baker

• Videoconferencing • SaaS • Visual Collaboration

Sanford Dickert

• Mobile Telepresence • Remote Presence • Telepresence Robotics

Bryan Hellard

• Telepresence & Videoconferencing Product Design • R&D/Prototyping • Computer Aided Design


he Human Productivity Lab has added some of the world’s leading experts in videoconferencing, telepresence, and visual collaboration. Solutions for the Enterprise

Andy Howard

• Enterprise Webcasting and Video Streaming • Video Conferencing • Unified Communications

• RFP Creation, Bid Management and Oversight • Unified Communications • Video Network Operation Center – Design, Build, Staff, and Train • Visual Collaboration Network Design • Infrastructure and Environments • Video Recording, Archiving, and Streaming

Doug Howard

• Security, Business Continuity and Governance • Visual Collaboration Strategy Creation and Execution • M&A, Business Integration

Solutions for Vendors

Howard Lichtman

• Visual Collaboration for Agile-Scrum • Visual Collaboration Solution Design • Investor Due Diligence

• Visual Collaboration Product Design • Product Positioning and Strategies • Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships Solutions for Investors

• Due Diligence

Tom Luketich

• EMEA Business Development–Channel End User/VAR Integrator • Interoperability & Testing • Launching Start-up Companies

Human Productivity Lab LONDON • WASHINGTON, DC David Maldow

• Visual Collaboration Project Management • Interoperability and Testing • Technical Writing

Richard Tucker

• Unified Communications Strategy • Solution Selection and Procurement • Implementation Mgmt.


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Planning a Video Conferencing or Telepresence Project  

This guide provides the information you need to make an end-to-end plan for your telepresence or video conferencing project. This guide is...

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