Videoconferencing-as-a-Service for African NRENs
The suggestion has been made (Bristow et al. 2015) (Isaac 2015) that there is an opportunity to leverage the installed infrastructure for both Video and Web conferencing in South Africa to extend the services to the NRENs that make up the UbuntuNet Alliance. Videoconferencing is one of the common services offered by many NRENs worldwide, and there are indications that this kind of service may be offered at a meta-NREN level (Géant). Experience over the past year has shown that, with respect to videoconferencing using Vidyo, there are no insurmountable technological or licencing barriers to rolling out such a service and there are indications that there would be few if any barriers to extending the paradigm to encompass web-conferencing using MConf. This paper will present a costed rollout plan for videoconferencing and web-conferencing for the UbuntuNet Alliance community. It will demonstrate the way that both platforms can share infrastructure across borders where appropriate (to share licensing and user account management) while deploying other infrastructure (to handle media traffic associated with calls and meetings) locally as required. The architectural aim is to minimise out of country traffic, while enabling optimal network conditions for inter-country calls and meetings, and allowing best quality international connectivity. Likely deployments for videoconferencing would be along the lines of VidyoRouters and VidyoGateways and MConf servers at appropriate places (in time at core points on each NREN’s network) connecting back to the core infrastructure in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa. There would be an additional package of training for admins and operators and depending on budgetary availability, the opportunity to set up some suitably equipped meeting rooms and facilities in each NRENs territory. The advantages of this approach was developed at some length in the paper cited above, but to summarise: they are to be found in cost savings from a shared hybrid cloud type of deployment, the easing of collaboration by the adoption of a common platform, and in the opportunities for mutual support and community building.