Unified Communications (UC) describes the interconnection of communication platforms like video conferencing, chat, phone and file sharing. The UC industry is evolving rapidly. And while this creates excellent opportunities to improve virtual communication across your business, it also presents an overwhelming number of options and choices. What is the best UC Platform for your business? Which brands provide the most flexibility or greatest value? What is the end user experience?
In this blog series you’ll learn about the meeting space technologies which support Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other leading UC systems so you can make the right purchase decision for your business. First, we’ll dive into the hardware solutions that are running Native UC Platform modes.
Even as cloud-based and mobile options grow, hardware is still an important component for many UC Platforms. The system usually lives in a dedicated conference room, providing easy access for group calls. High quality cameras and microphones also ensure a consistent experience.
UC hardware often runs in “Native Mode,” meaning that the built-in Windows/Mac or Android compute is running a single UC Platform application such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The system is “locked in” to that platform. This is a great option if your business is already using a soft client version on employees’ laptops, as you essentially just extend this experience to the meeting room. Employees can then make a Zoom call from their laptops, or a Zoom call from a conference room’s dedicated “Native” platform. They are already familiar with the UI and so the transition to a hardware version feels seamless.
If you go with this hardware option, there are 2 types of operating systems that can run in Native Mode:
A common hesitation with getting “locked in” to a single Native platform is the loss of flexibility. What if your business uses Teams but you have major customers that prefer Zoom? Luckily, there is a rise in cross-platform and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) compatibility. While not available with all hardware-based UC Platforms, it’s worth exploring what’s available and if that could work for your business.
Cross-Platform: The ability to dial across different platforms is developing, although there are still several limitations. The common communication technology that platforms currently leverage is WebRTC, a browser-based video connection. However, WebRTC only allows 720p resolution, single display, and content receive (not send). If these limitations work for you, here are some current options for cross-platform compatibility (if they don’t then take a look at our upcoming blog for another UC option!):
BYOD: With BYOD compatibility, anyone can plug into the UC system via a USB port and essentially host a meeting off their laptop while taking advantage of the system’s higher quality cameras and microphones. This enables a larger group to participate in a meeting, even if it’s on a different UC platform than the conference room’s primary Native platform.
Here are some final pros and cons to investing in hardware running Native UC Platform applications:
Next we will look at SIP / Standard endpoints and Cloud Video Interop (CVI). This option provides greater flexibility if you want to leverage existing SIP or H.323 video conferencing systems and not be locked into a single UC platform.