Security is Among The Top Priorities to Consider When Evaluating Video Conferencing Tools – FIPS 140-2, Level 1 Security Is Here!
Making a decision on which Video Conferencing tool provides the best solution for your needs has become increasingly more difficult, because there are so many vendors in this space, and new vendors are entering the field on a daily basis.
Finally, one major differentiating factor has risen to the top of the list – Secure Video Conferencing is finally here, in the form of FIPS 140-2, Level 1 CERTIFIED Security!
1) Security – Security should be at the very core of the selection of any video conferencing system. Many vendors make lots of statements about how they ensure the security of their products. If they are not FIPS Certified, they will spend a lot of time talking about, and a large amount of their web space dedicated to ‘Compliance” and how “Compliance” should be “good enough” for your organization.
The real question becomes: If “Compliance” is acceptable today, are you prepared to switch out your web conferencing vendor, if your organization eventually requires a FIPS 140-2, Level 1 Certified web conferencing tool? It is also important to ask the vendor if the “Compliance” they reference on their website is available on the product you are actually ordering!
If a Certified product exists, and there are currently three (3) vendors on the NIST list, why not begin your search for video conferencing with those products?
2) Audio and Video Quality – If members cannot be seen or heard…what is the point? Look for products that provide clear CD quality sound, and crisp video imaging, and that are easily adjustable to achieve the quality you desire for each user.
3) Ease of Installation and Use – How much time and money is wasted when a Web Conferencing product takes longer to install and learn how to operate than conducting an actual meeting? Look for products that are provided as a single download for their entire suite of features. Many products require multiple downloads of different modules and network add-ons to achieve the full featured product. Ask to review all of their Installation and Training Guides before purchasing the products.
4) Customer Support Services – Where is the support when you need it? If you need help right before an important meeting with the product, how quickly is the support staff available to you and how knowledgeable are they? Can they be reached via multiple ways: 1) by phone, 2) email, and/or 3) instant messaging? Is there an annual charge for their support? Is support based in the United States?
5) Depth of Features – What is the true cost of more features? Depth of features is what most companies use as their major selling point. Sometimes this gets overwhelming because you end up getting “sold” on features you do not need. The best approach is to find products that have a rich set of features built in at one low price that can be turned off and on as needed. Can you say for certain that your team will need the same features today, as they will six months from now? Additionally, you may not have the manpower, the time or the budget to face future downloads and reconfigurations, as well as additional training.
6) Price – The important issue to consider is whether or not you are maximizing the dollar spent for the features needed in the product, and that you have a predictable ongoing cost for your web conferencing usage. No longer should you be paying for by-the-minute usage or even by-the-meeting usage for a product, nor should you suffer the hefty cost of T-1 lines to get a feature rich product. Additionally, you should not have to pay for “extras” like the recording or the playback of a meeting.
7) Product Utilization – Where can you utilize the product? While video conferencing definitely reduces the time and costs associated with travel, the bottom line is that employees still need to travel. Is the product mobile enough to allow your employees to conduct secure virtual meetings wherever they are? Can you utilize your existing laptop or desktop and add a simple webcam to create a virtual workstation that can talk to anyone located anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world?
8) Independent Evaluation – Has the product been tested and evaluated by an independent organization with a rich set of criteria against which all products are measured? Be wary of reports that are either vendor written, vendor sponsored or are written on a pay-per-status basis.