Now that the school year is winding down, I’ve been reflecting on my use of my TANDBERG MPS MCU this year. Some of you have read my previous posts (one and another) on my TANDBERG bridge and so it’s time for a follow-up.
I Can’t Have It Both Ways
It struck me funny a couple weeks ago when I realized that I wanted the best of both worlds. I hope you can laugh at me with me. My previous PictureTel Montage bridge allowed me to have people to dial into different conferences by different numbers. So when I realized that the TANDBERG only let me have people dial in to conference 1 (see note below), I was frustrated with it. But recently I realized that it’s that same functionality that allows me to have a conference up and tell everyone to dial in and they just do. I don’t need their IP address. I don’t need to know their speed or any other weird specs or settings. They just dial in and the VC starts. What I’ve been frustrated about has also been a great blessing this year. Isn’t that funny?!!
It Doesn’t Fit My Paradigm
I learned a tiny bit about Joel Barker’s paradigm shift theory recently, and it dawned on me that my first year and a half of frustration with the Tandberg bridge was because it didn’t fit my paradigm! You can laugh at/with me on that one too! 🙂 I couldn’t get it to work the way I needed it to and I was running so many programs that I didn’t have time to adequately figure out how to think like it does. I’m definitely making progress in this area, but I’m not there yet!
I’m Not Using It The Way It Was Designed
The TANDBERG MPS is set up to either have people dial into conferences based on the E.164 alias (by endpoints registered to the gatekeeper), or using a Single Dial In system that works similar to the way the Codian MCU does with the welcome menu, etc. Because of my obsession with having a conference that people can just dial an IP and get into (no extensions, no menus, etc.), we changed a setting on the bridge so that it has a default conference (conference 1).
Using it that way, I can’t use the Tandberg Management Suite because it randomly assigns conferences and I can’t force it into conference 1. (Although there are a couple new versions out since I last looked at it so I need to research this more.) If I was using it the way it was designed to be used, the Tandberg Management Suite would be perfect and would add lots more functionality than I currently get just using the web interface to the MCU.
So why don’t I use it that way? I still do a lot of programs with old units that can’t dial extensions or use the tone dialing to get into the right conference. I also still do VCs with schools that can only dial out. And I still have scenarios where my school calls me in a panic and we have to put it up on the bridge to make it work. Having the option for endpoints to dial in with just an IP address is still crucial to my practice. So… this summer I hope to spend some more time testing and researching, so I can learn how to think like my bridge thinks. This is an ongoing journey that’s by no means finished. But I think I’m growing in my understanding and that’s worth something!
If you’re in the market for an MCU, you need to look at all the sides, not just my little opinion here! Don’t just take my experiences shared here. I’m not a techie; just an educator with a knack for technology.
I was reading through the Q2 2007 Wainhouse report on MCUs and noticed that the Tandberg MPS “best suited for homogeneous video environments and when an external scheduling system is used”. When I read that, it helped me understand your frustration because that does not represent how you want to use your bridge. 🙂
We are looking into the new Polycom RMX, but this research was based on the Polycom MGC 50. Currently, we have the MGC 100 and it was a lot of work getting all the IP addresses for Read Around the Planet, but there was only one network that we could not connect to…out of 48 connections. For us that was good!
Guys, there is a wonderful universal dial plan out there that we use every day called URI. It is the way we address our e-mail and it always works. Tandberg can utilize URI type dialing today with it’s Border Controller and GK. So you can dial Conference extention or Alias @ BC IP address or BC DNS and connect all day. If the conference alias is 1234 then someone on the public internet will dial 1234@IPaddress of BC, or 1234 @ DNS name for BC. BTW this will also allow you to put that bridge back behind your firewall where it belongs.
If and when we go to IPv6 what are you going to do then, dialing by IP address will be even more difficult.