Marshall University Proposed Teleconferencing Purchasing Standards
Teleconferencing at Marshall University has the potential to grow rapidly as the cost of the technology decreases. However, there are significant university resources that go into ensuring that these systems continue to operate in a coordinated fashion and serve the needs of students and departments and fulfill the mission of the university. As each new teleconferencing system is added to the campus network it requires configuration of supporting infrastructure such as networks, firewalls, gateways, and the MCU.† Once a system is installed on campus routine maintenance, ongoing testing, and software upgrades are necessary. It is essential that each of these teleconferencing systems is configured and maintained properly so that systems remain compatible.
For each installation, Networks must assign IP addresses, establish Quality of Service, and make changes to the firewall.† The University is using a Cisco Pix Firewall series 515.† To implement H.323, a fixup protocol command on port 1719 and 1720 is used. Polycom and Tandberg codecs use different fixed ports to pass H.323 traffic and those ports have to be opened on the firewall for the IP address of that codec.† The ports for the Polycom codecs and Accord/Polycom MCU can be altered but the ports on the Tandbergs are fixed and can be obtained from your Tandberg reseller.†
ITVS is the primary support service for teleconferences and maintains the Marshall University Distance Learning Video Network (DLVN). Under normal circumstances when a there are problems with a teleconference, staff will access the video CODEC remotely to run diagnostics, modify settings, and even reboot the system.† The DLVN standard PolyCom system has a very functional and controllable remote interface that makes troubleshooting quick and easy. The Tandberg systemís interface is much less functional and has limited diagnostics. ITVS staff cannot provide an acceptable level of remote support for the Tandberg products without additional software or a significant investment in time that is not available during teleconferences.
Manufacturers now commonly accept the H.323 video standard and systems of different manufacturer can interoperate. However, each manufacturer modifies the standard slightly to add feature sets such as collaborative tools, far end camera control etc. As a result add on features between manufacturers do not interoperate well. In addition, video quality between systems of the same manufacturer is far superior to quality between different manufacturers.
All teleconferencing codecs should be approved by ITVS prior to purchase by any university division and any bid placed for teleconferencing systems will specify the use of the University standard Codec, currently the PolyCom product line. This would not prevent departments from using outside vendors to design and install classroom configurations but would limit those configurations to a Codec that the university can support and build into a standard network configuration.