Videoconferencing vendors are gearing up to boost use of video streaming by combining the two technologies into a single product. PictureTel Corp. next week will roll out products and services that offer videoconferencing and streaming video, while White Pine Software Inc. has started shipping its MeetingPoint 4.0 conference server, which includes streaming technology.
PictureTel's eVideo Application Server provides video streaming technology, videoconferencing, Microsoft PowerPoint sides, and online chat capabilities that can be used via a Web browser on an intranet or extranet. The NT server supports RealNetworks' G2, Microsoft's NetShow, and PictureTel's own Starlight MPEG streaming technology. The server can manage content, bandwidth, security, scheduling, and distribution.
At the same time, PictureTel is rolling out an eVideo Service for companies that don't want to own or manage the server.
The White Pine server integrates conferencing and streaming video over an IP network. It supports streaming players such as Cisco's IPTV, Microsoft's NetShow Server and Windows Media Player, and RealNetworks' RealServer and RealPlayer. It also lets live meetings be recorded and played back on demand.
Some users question whether the combination is a good idea. "People doing videoconferencing don't usually see much sense in also streaming it," says Jeff Fritz, a telecommunications engineer at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va., who oversees videoconferencing and video streaming applications. "They just want to have the video conference, get it over with, and move on to other things."