Paul RelfApril 15, 2020

See More (faces) For Less

We are all aware of how dramatically the world has changed just a few weeks – and nowhere is this more evident in how we are now communicating and collaborating.  What you may not be aware of is how well-suited Avaya Spaces is to the new way of work. Avaya Spaces is a simple, cost-effective meetings and team collaboration in the cloud app, and yes it includes video conferencing.

One of the things that makes Avaya Spaces such a great collaboration tool is the video quality. There are so many people now connecting with cloud video and are excited about the ability to see everyone at once for the first time, even if in a limited way. Then there are those that are familiar with high end room-based video systems, know how powerful this technology can be, and are wondering if it could be better when connecting from home or their desktop. With Avaya Spaces, it absolutely is. With our patented Multi-share Video cloud technology, we are now able to deliver the same user experience of a high-end conferencing system, now from any device, anywhere on the planet, even over low bandwidth links. 

With so many people now using video to connect remotely, I am hearing a lot of complaints about the typical solutions they’re trying:

  • You can only see up to 4 people, maybe 6 maximum
  • You can see 1 person clearly, everyone else looks like a robotic postage stamp
  • Your PC fan sounds like a helicopter about to take off
  • You get blocky video, and just end up turning it off
  • You only see 1 person on a mobile device
  • You must ask your kids to stop watching Netflix when you are in a meeting
  • You’re an IT administrator and the Network bandwidth for video is out of control

If any of these apply to you, now is the time to try Avaya Spaces. And for you tech-geeks, I am going to get a little wonky. In the video engineering world, there are two overall approaches (before our patent anyway); switched video and processed video. Processed video takes the video feed from all participants, creates a composite video stream with everyone together, and then sends that single video stream back to each user. Seems logical. Switched video on the other hand simply redirects incoming video streams back out to each user, resulting in everyone sending their own video and receiving a video stream for each person they see. Seems complicated right? Let me spell it out in a different way. On a PC desktop you send your own video to the network. For each person you see on your screen, you are receiving a separate video stream. Take a quick glance at the problems above. Want to take a guess as to why this is a bad idea? Your network and your PC must process all these video streams. When you hit a choke point, the user experience suffers.

Let’s say you are in a 5-person meeting….

  • On a processed video system, like Avaya Spaces, each person has 2 video streams (send and receive) being processed on their desktop. For you IT folks, in aggregate the meeting is processing 10 streams in total for all 5 people.
  • On a switched video system, each person sends 1, and receives 4 streams, adding up to 25 streams total for all 5 people!
  • For this simple meeting Avaya Spaces is up to 60% more bandwidth efficient!
  • Since the Avaya Spaces user is only processing a single incoming video stream, we can add everyone’s happy face into the video and even traverse lower bandwidth networks. If a switched video user’s PC cannot process multiple incoming video streams (think security update download in the background) or their network cannot handle the bandwidth, refer to the problem list above!

So, you might say, I can still see all 5 people in the meeting on my Intel i7 processor and unlimited bandwidth home network, so what’s the big deal? Try doing the math for 20 people, or 200 people. Wait, how do you even do that math because there is no way I can process 20 video streams on my PC? Good question! Which is why this approach has so many problems.

Now why would a cloud vendor use a switching architecture if it is so limited? It goes back to the old saying ‘bandwidth is cheap’. A switching approach scales up rapidly for the cloud vendor because they are simply switching the video streams at the edge of their network on what is often referred to as a Selective Forwarding Unit (SFU). The SFU ultimately determines who should receive what video streams. All the “work” to process the video and create a layout is performed on your computer or mobile device. You may be wondering how our Multi-Share video patent comes into this. I will save that for another blog post, but it combines the best of processed and switched video with cloud, allowing for a highly scalable, rich video service that does not tax your network or your device!

Bottom line, with Avaya Spaces you can see more (smiling faces) for less.

Avaya Spaces

Paul Relf

Paul Relf is a Digital Transformation Accelerator highly skilled in bringing mobile and cloud solutions to market (B2B SaaS, B2C SaaS, Private Cloud). As a Senior Director of Product Management at Avaya, he helps customers enhance user experience, increase productivity and improve business performance by leveraging disruptive digital technology. Paul is responsible for Avaya's broad Enterprise UC&C portfolio where he is leading the introduction of cloud-native video / team collaboration services, in addition to enabling customers of all sizes, geographies and verticals to migrate their business communications to cloud.

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