Wanted: Video-conferencing solution for mid-sized teams

Early attempts at video conferencingThe Telerik Evangelism team has recently been experimenting with new techniques for staying connected and in-sync.  One of these techniques was to utilize video-conferencing for our bi-weekly meetings.  Sadly, I’ve not discovered any video-conferencing solutions that accommodates a team of our size (15 people).  Below I’ve summarized my experiences thus far:

Video-conferencing solutions at a glance

All video-conferencing solutions limit how many attendees can participate with their webcams.  Once this limit is exceeded, the behavior varies from service to service.  However, most services will support several more audio-only participants.  Below I’ve summarized the video and total limits for each service.

Service Video Limit Total Limit
GotoMeeting 6 15
Webex 7 25
Skype  10 20
Google Hangouts 10 10
Oovoo 12 12
Vidtel 12 12
Blue Jeans Network 25 25
Microsoft Lync 250 250

 What happens when the video limit is exceeded?

Gotomeeting -Video in Gotomeeting is first come, first serve.  Each participant must manually enable their webcam.  However, once the 6 video-user limit is reached the option is disabled for other attendees.  These other attendees will be audio-only, able to see the 6 video users, but not utilize their own webcam.

Webex – When more than 7 participants join the meeting the meeting moderator can  select who can share video.  Up to 25 total participants can join the call but only 7 will have video sharing options available.

Skype – When more than 10 participants join, video conferencing and screensharing get disabled for everyone.  After this, the call continues and up to 25 participants can join for audio-only conferencing.

Google Hangouts – There is a hard cap of 10 participants.  Anyone else who joins the conference will be put into spectator mode.  They can hear the conference, but not participate.  I’m intrigued by Google Hangouts, but the 10 person limit is a deal-breaker.

Microsoft Lync – Using Lync all participants can utilize their webcam, but only the speaker gets focus (no Hollywood Squares style display).  Furthermore, I’m seldom able to get Lync to perform reasonably with 2 participants, let alone 250.  This problem becomes even worse for our telecommuters who are forced to VPN into the network to utilize Lync.  On a LAN this might be a great solution; however, for our distributed team Lync does not produce great results.

Oovoo – I have no direct experience with Oovoo yet.  If you do, feel free to comment below.

Blue Jeans Network – I have no direct experience with Blue Jeans Network yet.  I’m intrigued by its ability to bridge multiple solutions (WebEx, Skype, etc.) though.  I would love to see feedback from others who have direct experiences with this service.

Our current solution

For the time being we’re using Skype for voice-only communication.  It’s ubiquitous, which is nice; it also has integrated chat which the evangelism team seems to enjoy using during the meetings.  For screen-sharing, we’ll probably just fire-up a Gotomeeting session as needed.  We’ll only use it for screen-sharing and disable the audio.

In a nutshell, we’re abandoning video-conferencing entirely.  I’m not happy about this, but I haven’t been happy with any of the other options either.  I’ll update this post if I locate a better solution or more information.

Special thanks to @ryanlowdermilk for helping with this post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14005311 Sean Croghan

    Have you looked at Blue Jeans Network? (Hokey name, I know.) It’s not free, and in fact looks to be a little pricey, but it might get the job done for you. I believe the cutoff is 25 users, but that’s full video and voice for all 25.

    • http://gabesumner.com/ Gabe Sumner

      Hey Sean.  Thanks for the recommendation.  I watched their overview video and will explore in more detail later.

  • http://www.pandoraonsale.net/ Pandorabracelets

    ZSZZYSKDLZ I like it very much!

  • Jearrington4

    Get 3 FREE VIA3 Video Conferencing licenses for 3 months FREE! Use PromoCode TWITTER.  VIA3 is used by Federal and State governments and healthcare providers. The website is http://www.via3.com

  • Scott Wharton

    Hi Gabe,

    Nice summary.  You left off your analysis Vidtel (our company).  We are the first to provide any-to-any video conferencing at more affordable pricing than comparable options.  Let me know if you are interested in learning more (www.vidtel.com) or feel free to try our service for free at: http://vidtel.com/try-vidtel.htm  

    Scott
    CEO
    Vidtel Inc.

    • http://gabesumner.com/ Gabe Sumner

      Thanks for the comment.  I’m seeing a 12 participant limit for your service, based on your website.  This would not work for our 15 person team.

  • Ssharer

    I think your evaluation criteria was probably poorly matched with your knowledge of which technologies are required to create a human visual presence at a distance.

    • http://gabesumner.com/ Gabe Sumner

      Please explain.  

  • Nick

    Hi Gabe, What seems to be the trouble you’re ahving with Lync? I administer a Lync environment that services over 100 users in 10-25 conferences a week, with hardly a drop in video. Average conference size is 8-15 users per. 

  • Dr. Chanel

    Thanks so much for this excellent guide!  I am having a similar problem finding a good solution for a video support group for stressed out moms that I am running.  Ideally, our group will be 8-12, maybe 15, people.  I am going to try Adobe Connect, which allows video for up to 25 people, but, alas, does not have an external call-in number (i.e. you must use your mic/speakers for audio and be in front of the computer for all participants), though it apparently does integrate with other audio conferencing providers.  It runs 55/month for their personal membership (45/mo with 1 yr sub).  Just started my trial yesterday, so crossing my fingers! :)  Thanks again, Dr. Chanel

  • BlueJeansNetwork

    Nice roundup, Gabe. Since you’re post, Blue Jeans has added a browser feature which makes it even easier to connect. We also have screen share functionality so you don’t have to switch to another service just for that purpose. We also understand the importance of integration into other business tools, and you can now sign in to Blue Jeans using your LinkedIn credentials, as well as contact customers inside Salesforce.Â
    Here’s our free trial so you can experience it today: http://bluejeans.com/trial Thanks again for the kudos!

  • Tim Peterson

    Have you considered Megameeting. Up to 16 video feeds on one conference.