Desktop Video Conferencing
Important Note: Some Schools and Centers have standardized on the use of specific video conferencing applications, and may have licensed or negotiated discounted services for their faculty and staff. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) strongly suggests that faculty and staff speak to their local support provider to determine which product(s) are supported in their School or Center.
As broadband has become pervasive and with video cameras becoming increasingly prevalent on notebook and desktop computers the use of desktop VoIP and videoconferencing has become more common. Particularly for those communicating with others internationally, these solutions can help lower or avoid costs and even provide additional features that traditional telephony lacks. As a starting point for faculty, staff, and students investigating options for desktop VoIP and video conferencing, this document discusses some of the leading technologies available.
These services generally fall into two categories:
- Voice and video software, such as Skype and Messages
- Web conferencing software, such as Adobe Connect Professional, GoToMeeting, and WebEx
Skype and iChat are consumer-focused programs that offer instant messaging services in addition to their voice and video capabilities. While Skype is multi-platform and focused on communication within the Skype network, Messages is a multi-protocol OS X program that communicates on various networks. Both are free, and allow free or inexpensive voice and video chat between clients.
Adobe Connect Professional, GoToMeeting, and WebEx are more focused on the corporate market, providing services such as desktop sharing and videoconferencing. All three can be used within an Internet browser and may require browser plugins. Adobe Connect Professional, GoToMeeting, and WebEx are typically licensed.
Skype is a proprietary software application which allows users to make inexpensive or free voice calls over the Internet. Skype also supports video conferencing for as many as 10 users. Be aware that Skype is a peer-to-peer (P2P) application that may create additional security risks. If you are planning to use Skype be sure to review the Skype document and to configure your Skype client based on the recommendations in that document.
Apple's Messages (formerly known as iChat) is a proprietary software application which allows OS X users to communicate via instant messaging. Messages also supports video conferencing for up to four users. Using Messages for video conferencing requires all particpants to be using a supported version of OS X.
Adobe Connect Professional
Adobe Connect Professional is a Web-hosted service. It is remote meeting software that enables a user to meet with colleagues via the Internet in real-time. Using Adobe Connect Professional for video conferencing requires a current web browser and a current version of Adobe Flash Player.
Citrix's GoToMeeting is a Web-hosted service. It is a remote meeting and desktop sharing software that enables a user to meet with colleagues via the Internet in real-time. Using GoToMeeting for video conferencing requires a current web browser.
Cisco's WebEx is a Web-hosted service. It is a remote meeting and desktop sharing software that enables a user to meet with colleagues via the Internet in real-time. Using WebEx for video conferencing requires a current web browser.
ISC's Penn Video Productions provides higher-performance video conferencing services for Schools, Centers, and Departments.