[SATLUG] Re: 1984- now AccessGrid VIDEO conferencing

Borries Demeler demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu
Sun Mar 23 09:04:31 CDT 2008

> >  Ok, the only thing separating you from such a setup is about $50, that's it.
> >  A simple webcam and a $15 headset with mic from radio shack will do.
> That's for the client side.  I'm not worried about them.
> I'm thinking about the server side -- how do we do something that 
> will scale out to ~50,000 students and ~20,000 faculty members at the 
> main campus.

You see, the way that's handled is through someone's venue server. Doesn't
have to be your own. Argonne hosts conferences literally for thousands
of different clients, only a very small proportion is from their own
campus. We can do likewise, and our biochemistry venue server hosts
conferences for many other purposes, and we don't even notice it. THink
of a venue server as a hosted web server. You wouldn't worry about 50,000
or more people hitting your webserver if it ran Linux and has a 10 GB
LEARN hookup. In addition, I doubt 50,000 students and 20,000 faculty
members would all have their own AG streams, and especially not all at
the same time. Also, an entire conference room would send our not much more 
data than a single personal node, but would handle many people at one time.

> >  Ask him if it can do multicast, if you can transmit HDTV signal over it,
> >  ask him to list the codecs it support for both video and audio, and if it
> >  can stream high-res desktop video at arbitrary resolution, and if it can
> >  record all audio/video streams simultaneously.
> He's an SVP.  He's not going to have any of those answers.  However, 
> he might be willing to be convinced that we should look into this 
> issue in more depth.

Here is a pretty eloquent (historical) excerpt from Olaf Kirch's
assessment of Windows NT 4.0 vs. Linux debate, the same argument could
be applied to your latest VC application vs. AccessGrid:

	"...Why Windows NT Server 4.0 continues to exist in the enterprise
	would be a topic appropriate for an investigative report in the
	field of psychology or marketing, not an article on information
	technology. Technically, Windows NT Server 4.0 is no match
	for any UNIX operating system, not even the non-commercial
	BSDs or Linux. A manager is not expected to have the technical
	expertise of a systems administrator with 15 years of industry
	experience. There is no shame in not having the facts, only in
	being ignorant of such facts, which will in the end cost your
	employer, and eventually all consumers, money. The aim of this
	article is to give you these facts, and prove that they are facts,
	because facts are not debatable."

So if your SVP makes decisions based on lack of information or marketing
talk from some proprietary technology vendor, it is important that you 
ask the questions for him, or give him the technical details so he can
make a more informed decision. IMHO, a well-done demo can be quite
convincing. So if you want to give AG a try (which I hope you do), let
me know and we'll help you do that demo (remotely, of course, to be more
impressive). I would very much appreciate if someone at UT could
pick this up and make it easier for us to conference with UT.

> I will do that.  However, that does only address the client side of the issue.

Again, I can't see how that would be an issue. Just use someone else's 
server, and if you really need your own rooms, feel free to set up a 
small box with a gigabit ethernet card and put the (free) venueserver
on it. It's not much more than running a web server. Jeremy can give you
the details. One thing going for you here is that UT already has MC
working. We have asked them several years ago to set it up since we
needed to use AG with our collaborators at UT. Heck, I am sure Jeremy
would set up a UT Lobby for your campus on our server with all the needed
rooms so can get a very quick start.

> >  The video cam is not strictly necessary, but headphones are to avoid having
> >  to do any echo cancelling. You also will need a mic.
> I've got more headsets that I've bought over the years than I will 
> ever know what to do with.  I could probably just about outfit our 
> entire office with headsets that I have personally bought over the 
> years.
> That part won't be a problem.

Well, let us know when you are ready for testing.


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