Add Mac Mini to AV rooms for arbitrary video conf systems

RESOLVED FIXED

Status

Infrastructure & Operations
Telecom
RESOLVED FIXED
6 years ago
4 years ago

People

(Reporter: mounir, Assigned: zandr)

Tracking

Details

(Reporter)

Description

6 years ago
We currently have a big screen and a camera and sound system but they are all plugged into a Vidyo box that can't do anything else than running Vidyo. That means doing a conference call in this meeting room with other people that can't run Vidyo is just not possible.

Vivien and I had to suffer from this problem last Saturday when we had to give a talk to our Mozilla community in Senegal from the Paris office. The talk was given through Skype and given that we had no system to do such thing in the office we had to throw together a system with a laptop, a headset and a webcam. That was pretty ridiculous :(

Comment 1

6 years ago
Mounir: I suggest that you elaborate on your needs. Following our discussion earlier today, I understood that you want *video* conferencing, and not just audio. 

You may want to explain your use case and why you don't think that Vidyo is a good solution.
(Reporter)

Comment 2

6 years ago
Yes, I believe the Paris office needs a A/V conferencing system in addition of our current Vidyo infrastructure.

Vidyo is clearly not a solution we can easily use to communicate with people outside of Mozilla Corporation: it's not a common tool, it's heavy in resource, it doesn't work well in all OS, and using the software seems quite restricted. I believe we can ask people to use Mozilla's Vidyo instance and create a guest account but that seems complex. In the other hands, other systems are widely used, are more fair with resource usage, work quite well on all OS and are free to install and use. Skype, for example.
Though, the most important point in my opinion is that when communicating with people outside of the Corporation (or even the project), we should reduce the entry barrier. Asking them to install a software they've never heard about is going the wrong way.

Two side notes:
- The use cases of such system wouldn't be only for remote talks but also if we want to do a conference call with people from another project or company: should we ask them to install the software we use internally?
- I believe Vidyo has some advantages against Skype otherwise it would not have been chosen as our internal conf call system. I guess the room mechanism is one of the reason why we are using it. However, that's not something we need when dealing with people from outside the Corporation or the project.

Updated

6 years ago
Assignee: server-ops → server-ops-telecom
Component: Server Operations → Server Operations: Telecom
QA Contact: cshields → mrz

Comment 3

6 years ago
(In reply to Mounir Lamouri (:volkmar) (:mounir) from comment #2)
> Yes, I believe the Paris office needs a A/V conferencing system in addition
> of our current Vidyo infrastructure.

Interesting feedback.  You're office is a mini version of all the other locations, all of which have Vidyo (which is the AV conference system).

The other conferencing solutions are fairly high end.

> Vidyo is clearly not a solution we can easily use to communicate with people
> outside of Mozilla Corporation: it's not a common tool, it's heavy in
> resource, it doesn't work well in all OS, and using the software seems quite
> restricted. I believe we can ask people to use Mozilla's Vidyo instance and
> create a guest account but that seems complex.

It is complex but you don't need a guest account setup.  You can send a guest invite URL that doesn't require a login.

We've also used VidyoReply to stream a Flash stream out for Linux users.


> Two side notes:
> - The use cases of such system wouldn't be only for remote talks but also if
> we want to do a conference call with people from another project or company:
> should we ask them to install the software we use internally?

What systems to external companies use?  

Mountain View started off with Polycom HDX systems but those require dedicated high speed connectivity with low latency.  It was extremely problematic within North America (Mountain View & Toronto).

> - I believe Vidyo has some advantages against Skype otherwise it would not
> have been chosen as our internal conf call system. 

Indeed.  Room integration, supports legacy Polycom systems and supports SIP.

Comment 4

6 years ago
What are you really looking for?

A large monitor + camera for Skype?

Comment 5

6 years ago
btw, we're looking at Big Blue Button and what it takes to get that for a room system.

Comment 6

6 years ago
Something like http://shop.skype.com/skype-for-tv/tv-compatible-webcams/dmp-bdt110-blu-ray-disc-player-webcam/ ?

Not sure if the monitor in that room has speakers.

Comment 7

6 years ago
answering MRZ's comment #6 : the monitor in the room does NOT have speakers.

Comment 8

6 years ago
@mounir - just to check, you're asking for Skype for a room (vs. laptop)?  You said "needs A/V conferencing" but you have that (with Vidyo) so I'm trying to understand what you mean.
(Reporter)

Comment 9

6 years ago
(In reply to matthew zeier [:mrz] from comment #5)
> btw, we're looking at Big Blue Button and what it takes to get that for a
> room system.

This project seems really awesome!

(In reply to matthew zeier [:mrz] from comment #8)
> @mounir - just to check, you're asking for Skype for a room (vs. laptop)? 
> You said "needs A/V conferencing" but you have that (with Vidyo) so I'm
> trying to understand what you mean.

As I said, I tried to give a talk with Vivien from the Paris office to our community in Senegal using Skype (because real people just use that). Given that we were two to give the talk, using a laptop was weird and we realized that our entire conferencing system was fully dependent on our Vidyo box which means we had to throw things together to have something working for our talk (with a laptop, an old iSight and a headset).

What I would have love to have is a conferencing system that isn't so dependent on Vidyo. I don't really push for Skype. The fact is that our current system suppose that the other participants are using Vidyo too.
Let's imagine that we are two people from the Paris office who wants to use the conference room to talk with two other people from another conference room at place X. Given that we can't use the video in the conference room without Vidyo, we would have to tell them to use Vidyo. But then we suppose their conference system is more open than ours and allow them to use something else than the software they use internally. If they can't and are as locked as we are, we will have to switch back to voice-only. I believe that forcing people to our internal system (Vidyo) to contact us via AV is not right [1]. We should be more open.

Actually, I wonder why our AV system (speaker/mic, screen and cam) are all linked to the Vidyo box. Why do we have this Vidyo box? Can't we just use the Mac Mini for Vidyo? Or a system that would easily let us switch [2] from the Vidyo box to the Mac Mini?

Feel free to ignore this bug and mark it as WONTFIX. It's much more a feedback than a request. If no one ever complained I guess things are not going to change because of me and I'm actually very surprised to see how many people doesn't seem to consider this is a problem. I believe this feedback was worth being done though.

[1] I'm not speaking of people who want to join Mozilla meetings, that's really different.
[2] By switch I mean switch the cam, speakers, mic and screen.
> As I said, I tried to give a talk with Vivien from the Paris office to our
> community in Senegal using Skype (because real people just use that). 

Yes, I see.  Unfortunately this isn't something we've solved at any other office location.  


> Actually, I wonder why our AV system (speaker/mic, screen and cam) are all
> linked to the Vidyo box. Why do we have this Vidyo box? Can't we just use
> the Mac Mini for Vidyo? Or a system that would easily let us switch [2] from
> the Vidyo box to the Mac Mini?

That's because it's part of Vidyo.  

I don't know if it make sense to retrofit that entire room to match the other offices since I believe there's still a plan to move.  When that happens you'll have audio integrated into the room and can use that for audio calls and Vidyo.

You could use a Mac Mini but I'm not sure how that's any different than the XP box running Vidyo.
Assignee: server-ops-telecom → zandr
Zandr, what are your thoughts here?  Probably worthwhile which is why I won't WONTFIX this but not something we can tackle quickly.  Also something I'm sure other Spaces would like.
Summary: Paris office needs an infrastructure to give remote conf calls without using Vidyo → Add Mac Mini to AV rooms for arbitrary video conf systems

Comment 12

6 years ago
Real people also use Vidyo.  Google OEMs it for their Talk service[1].

"Let's imagine that we are two people from the Paris office who wants to use the conference room to talk with two other people from another conference room at place X."

Has this ever happened before?

We use Vidyo because it has adaptive bandwidth control, and works on OSX, Win, and Linux (though not as full featured).  During trials participants who had limited bandwidth and poor quality were still able to join the call without diminishing the overall quality for all participants.  It has self preservation built in which is to say will aim for highest quality of video and voice, but then lower the bit rate for video and even drop the feed to preserve the audio.

It also has the ability to have a dominant window that focuses the active speaker in addition to moderator control of the participants of the call.  

Every Mozilla office will have at least 1 of the Vidyo systems.  We're a global company and the in room systems have dramatically improved intra and inter team collaboration between office and those who work at home.  For example just last night 2 of us were in SF and called up a team member, but realized we needed others from another team.  I messaged them on IRC and they hopped on right away without issue.  It just worked.

A few nights ago every single Vidyo room in Mountain View was in use at 1800 PST.

Legacy systems such as the Polycom IP7000 (affectionately known as the star phone) which are more common in the enterprise (as a result of being the market leader and a OEM partner with Microsoft).  We switched from these because they did not offer any of the above mentioned features.  Vidyo does have, however, a gateway for these systems to join our calls so this should address some of the interoperability issues.

The components in your room are all connected to the Vidyo unit for many reasons not the least of which is to ensure it will function for everyone all the time.  There are varying degrees of technical expertise with A/V technologies and we have found that more often than not people think they know how to fix something and ultimately leave things in a worse state than they started.  The act takes the system out of service for others who may need to use the system.

I think it would be more productive to fully understand your use cases rather than jumping to conclusions about the ineffectiveness of Vidyo.  There may be ready solutions for what you may be trying to do.  Dismissing Vidyo is very short sighted.

IT will try to keep up with our users needs, but before Vidyo there was no internally supported peer to peer video conference system.  We will look into the options of leveraging Skype, but as we do this we ask that you look into the abilities of Vidyo and how it can fit into your workflow.

[1] http://gigaom.com/video/vidyo-powers-google-video-chat-gets-patent/
(Assignee)

Comment 13

6 years ago
I've been thinking about this exact problem, not for Skype, but for Big Blue Button. Being able to run Skype too wouldn't be too hard.

I don't have an answer in the Polycom rooms, but for the Vidyo rooms, can put a BlackMagic Extreme between the camera and the VidyoRoom box to get access to those feeds for Big Blue Button. This would work for Skype as well.
(Assignee)

Comment 14

6 years ago
Closing as RESO/FIXE.

This capability is included in the new "Small Room" and "Large Room" designs, of which MTV-Zombocom and LON-Commons are the prototypes, respectively.
Status: NEW → RESOLVED
Last Resolved: 6 years ago
Resolution: --- → FIXED
Product: mozilla.org → Infrastructure & Operations
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