Microsoft OCS & Roundtable


I had a great Live Meeting with a customer day where we discussed how Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and the MS Roundtable device is helping them in their organization…and I have to say it was one of the most positive chats I’ve had with a customer for quite a while!

They are a very large international organization with operations on pretty much every continent (save Antarctica I believe) with 100’000s of users across 100’s of countries. As you can imagine, that means there are a lot of meetings to be had and thus a lot of flights to be made and hotels to be stayed (in). There international travel costs come to 1,000’000’s of Euro’s a year and that is something they wanted/needed to cut-especially in the recent climate.

Using Live Meeting and Roundtable for Video Conferencing means some individual sites are saving over £1,000 per week in travel costs alone! Certain people were flying to Europe 3 times a month and that has now been reduced to once every 2 months at the most…as well as the cost savings, the reduction in carbon emissions is phenomenal :-) Since it’s installation, OCS has been used for 12,000,000 minutes of remote conversation!!!

The customer termed Live Meeting/OCS & Roundtable as “the dog’s bollocks” ;-)

Live Meeting’s ability to share desktops and applications as well as Powerpoint slide shows makes it the perfect medium for showing remote workers how to use a new system, showing technicians the error you’re experiencing as well as standard presentations etc. Also, the fact that you can take control of a remote desktop means Helpdesk’s can use it to quickly see and solve user’s issues. The Roundtable, with it’s full 360 degree panoramic display helps remote users feel more connected to the information being delivered and the people delivering it!

One situation where Video Conferencing comes in very handy is with pregnancy. Both us internally and the customer I was talking to have got staff who’s wives are very close to giving birth…but there are also important European meetings close on the horizon…”ruh roh” as Scooby may say! Usually the choice would be:

    • Don’t go
    • Go and risk missing the birth

Neither of these are brilliant solutions, so Video Conferencing gives us a 3rd option:

    • Stay here and conference in with full video and VOIP audio.

That way the user can still make their contributions as well as learn from everyone else, while being close enough to home to dash off to the hospital at a moment’s notice!

MS Roundtable now Polycom CX5000


Well, the title pretty much says it all-the MS Roundtable, their innovative 360 degree panoramic video conferencing unit-is now made and sold by Polycom as the CX5000.

I’ve known about this for a few weeks and it’s hard to tell if this is going to make things better or worse to be honest. Bechtle have done very well with the Roundtable but the biggest problem for customers, has been the lead time…originally 10-12 weeks & now a more palatable 4-6 weeks. My hope is that due to it being more “their thing”, Polycom will step up the product of the units and perhaps even have them in the warehouses of distributors-allowing us to offer next day delivery (that’d be great!).

The down side is that CNET are quoting an RRP price of $4300 and the previous RRP was, I believe, $3000. If both these figures are correct-that’s one HECK of a price increase-over 33% in fact!

Funky looking and useful

Funky looking and useful

Microsoft Roundtable Demo


I (along with our friends @ Microsoft) did a demo of the Microsoft Roundtable today down at a customer’s very impressive site and I’m pleased to say, it went very well :-)

We tested out a couple of different setups and I can tell you now that 2 Roundtables in the same room just isn’t a good idea! Having both devices live means feedback and general audio-confusion for all involved so even in the bigger boardrooms, 1 is the limit really.

Some people were worred that the panoramic view across the bottom would be too small for effective video-conferencing and that may be true, but it’s easy enough to enlarge the video for conversations and then drop it back down when you want to share data etc*.

The ability of Live Meeting to share presentations, take polls and provide collaborative whiteboarding was a definite hit with the demo attendees, and helped show that the Roundtable, in conjunction with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, really is a great business benefit.

The demo was such a hit that even the Managing Director of this world famous multi-national company came down to take a look, and was instantly impressed with how it could help increase productivity among their 2000+ users :-)

It was great to see first hand what customers think of this product and also great to see that they agree with me about the many different benefits such as increased productivity, reduction in travel expenses, helping reduce a company’s carbon footprint and more.

Here are links to some of my other Roundtable posts:

Documents & Downloads

Unboxing Pics

Review

*I’ll hopefully be able to update this post with some example images soon…

Microsoft Unified Communications Demo


Microsoft’s Unified Communications portfolio contains some brilliant products and when they’re all used together, the results are amazing. However one thing I know first hand is that an actual demo works infinitely better than any number of .ppt slides and presentations so courtesy of Technet Edge, here’s a demo of:

Exchange Server 2007, Office Communications Server 2007 and Roundtable

Microsoft Roundtable- Review and More info


Morning people!

Thought I’d share a couple of facts that help show just how innovative, advanced and cool the Roundtable is.

  1. It can equalize the light in the room so if you’ve got a dark spot, or light streaming through a big window-it keeps it all looking nice and even lighting-wise.
  2. Automatic Head-Size Equalization: This helps make the views of people aroun the table uniform regardless of their distance from the camera so:

becomes

giving an easier to use, professional looking video conference.

I’ll be posting about my first-hand experiences with Roundtable once my unit arrives but until then, Tom Keating over at:

http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/microsoft/microsoft-roundtable-review.asp

does a great job!

Microsoft Roundtable-21st Century Video Conferencing


This thing is awesome! It came out of the MS Research team a few years back and now it’s been re-designed and is better than ever!

It’s a video conferencing device with some really neat features. It’s got a 360° camera and it tracks the active speaker, so you can move with the flow of conversation.

It’s got a lot of people excited here at Bechtle & we can’t stop selling them, so it’s clearly got users excited too!

Funky looking and useful

Funky looking and useful

Also, a lot of people criticise Microsoft for not being innovative and original, but this is one of the freshest things I’ve seen for a long time…I say “way to go MS”!

If you’re looking for a way to improve long distance meetings and/or save on fuel costs and reduce your carbon footprint, this is a great way to go about it ;-)