Pilot delivers national video conference service for 37 universities

Conference schedules decentralized

Australia's research and education network, AARNet, has just completed a successful pilot of hosted video conferencing services at universities across the nation.

The new Codian management platform allowed AARNet to link 37 universities using two products.

The products include the Codian Conference Director, which offers real-time, large-scale video conference control and monitoring throughout an organisation and across business communities, and Codian Conference Scheduler, which allows users to control and join all Codian infrastructure and any endpoint products on their network to make the best use of conferencing resources, including bandwidth.

AARNet's director of applications and services, James Sankar, said the organization had to establish MCU port sharing, improve interoperability throughout the 37 universities, and offer an easy-to-use, secure and accessible online booking system.

"The Codian MCUs are endpoint agnostic so we can provide a completely seamless service. We are also able to decentralise the scheduling of conferences, manage ad hoc conferences better and optimise all available MCU resources throughout the community," Sankar said.

"This solution is being trialled on a larger scale with our customers at Australian universities with the aim of enabling us to deliver a more comprehensive and totally reliable video conferencing service that actually gives users the best visual and audio quality available at any given time, via an easy to use and navigate interface."

Flinders University was one of the first to pilot the AARNet service and is currently preparing to purchase its own Codian MCU.

Steve Cox, communication and network services manager for Flinders University, said the university conducts multiple video conferences each day to, provide improved communication for staff at remote sites, run project meetings and tap into expertise around the country and interview job candidates.

"By linking into the AARNet network we will have access to a cascading pool of resources around Australia that not only provides redundancy for our system, but will also allow us to overflow onto another system whenever we exceed our own resources," Cox said.

"It allows universities to access video conferencing facilities on an as-needs basis, far beyond our individual buying capacity."

Cox is co-chairing AARNet's national university project and said the group is working closely with Codian to develop features of interest to the academic and research sector, including development of a Web booking form to make access even easier for non-technical users.

"We intend to use CMP to create a simple process for our people to schedule and run video conferences, which will save the university both time and money by reducing travel expenses and improving communications across the organisation," he said.

AARNet Pty Ltd (APL) is a not-for-profit company and shareholders are 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO.

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