Videoconferencing-as-a-Service for African NRENs
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This paper describes recent developments in the capability of Videoconferencing and the associated opportunities for a shared videoconferencing offering for African NRENs. The improvements in inter-African network capacity, taken with the maturing of new approaches to videoconferencing open an opportunity for African NRENs to take advantage of an investment that TENET has made in its videoconferencing platform. TENET, the South African NREN operator, has established infrastructure to support multi-party high quality videoconferencing that brings together room-based conferencing (including H.323/SIP conferencing) with the capability to participate from desktop and laptop computers and from mobile devices. Due to the efficient software based characteristics of the chosen platform (Vidyo), participants are able to enjoy up to HD quality conferencing and content sharing in multi-party conferences. The backend of the Vidyo infrastructure is available as software appliances to run as virtual machines (VMWare). This allows for a geographic distribution of the Vidyo infrastructure that enables maximum efficiency in the use of the SANReN network within South Africa. Following an approach from KENET, the Kenyan NREN organisation, TENET has been able to further leverage the flexibility of the Vidyo platform to enable KENET to offer the capabilities of Vidyo to its Higher Education and Research communities in Kenya This paper and conference session will describe the details of this service and the key capabilities of the platform that allow for a distributed service. The paper and session will also outline the key economic, technological and organisational factors that make Videoconferencing-as-a-Service a compelling offering for African NRENs.