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In our company we have about 40 offices distributed all over the country. Every time the Human resources department want to do a training session the people have to go to the central offices for the training day, and this is more difficult and costly every day we open a new office.

I'm searching for a software that can do the following:

1.- Video call 1 on 1 for interview purposes and one on one training or conferencing

2.- Video call N to N for training sessions in which a person, or even multiple persons on different offices will teach the other assistants, and those assistants can ask questions.

3.- It would be great if the software allow recording of the conference

4.- It would be great if the software is multiplatform (Windows, Linux, Mac), but this is not a must, we have at least a windows machine on every office.

5.- It would be a plus if we can install the server on our network, but the data transmitted will not be critical, so if this is not possible it will not be a problem.

I will appreciate suggestions and comments on similar experiences.

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6 Answers 6

Depending on your budget and existing infrastructure, Microsoft Office Communications Server might be worth considering. We've been using it for a few months and I already can't live without it :)

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What range of prices are we talking of? –  Doliveras Jul 6 '09 at 16:51
    
Not super cheap - as always it's the CALs that kill you: microsoft.com/communicationsserver/en/us/pricing-licensing.aspx –  Izzy Jul 6 '09 at 16:56
    
Download the 180 day free trial and give it a try. You're getting a lot more features with OCS than you requested, but it's a really nice bit of software –  Izzy Jul 6 '09 at 16:57
    
Thankyou Izzy, it's not super cheap, true, but it's not super Expensive unless you have a limited number of CALs. I'll give it a try, it seems a very complete product for teaching purposes –  Doliveras Jul 6 '09 at 17:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have been reading documentation and information on the different products that some of you recommended, and I will try to expose what I learned in this post for future visitors.

ooVoo is basically an equivalent to the iChat from Apple.

The software allows the user to video call other users 1 on 1 or, if you subscribe to one of the multiple plans available you can do multi conference video calls with up to 6 participants.

It is basically a chat application, with no support for distance teaching or presentations.

Polycom PVX is a video conferencing software with excellent support for video, audio and content sharing, allowing remote teaching and presentations.

The big deal with this software is its price, at a cost of $155 per user or $11,230 for 100 users it results very expensive if you don’t do a really intensive use of the features that offers.

And finally, the 2 products that bests fit on my needs:

Microsoft Office Communications Server, a heavily oriented training and collaboration tool. It allows you to do video conferences with multiple participants, one on one video calls, seminars with audio and content sharing, etc …

The price of the product starts on $699 for the server plus $31 CAL per user, so for 100 users it cost 699+(31*100)=$3799, sensibly cheaper than Polycom PVX.

Webex , allows you to do practically everything from video calls, to desktop sharing, conferences and training sessions. The philosophy of the product is to charge for subscriptions or a fee per user and event. If you want to do an online meeting you can do it really fast with no previous subscriptions at $0.33 per user.

As of now we will start testing Microsoft Office Comunications Server and Webex, we’ll see where we will end.

A new interesting addition has been made, ConferenceXP, a software developer by the University of Washington. But for what I've seen on his web this software has some limitations due to his orientation centered on class teaching.

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This seems like a place where you should probably consider setting up video conferencing systems that support H.323. There are many vendors that support H.323 capable devices and many devices. H.323 has been around for a long time.

We have had lots of expereince with Polycomm's products including PVX.

To allow the multi-point conferences, you may need to invest in a Multipoint Control Unit. I am not entirely sure what the current recording options are.

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It seems a great product, but it is really expensive, $11,230 for 100 users is a big sum –  Doliveras Jul 6 '09 at 17:10

I have used http://www.oovoo.com for this kind of thing.

It allows for video conf's for up to 6 parties, and the conf can be recorded...

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I will test ooVoo but, the limit of 6 parties are a little low for our needs, Its more than possible that every conference will have 10 or more offices connected –  Doliveras Jul 6 '09 at 16:41

WebEx? http://www.webex.com They even have a 14-day trial.

1.- Video call 1 on 1 for interview purposes and one on one training or conferencing

Add a face-to-face experience with video
Enhance your online interactions with live video. View up to six camera-enabled meeting participants simultaneously, each in their own window. Use WebEx Multi-point Video for highly-collaborative group meetings where multiple people are actively participating.

2.- Video call N to N for training sessions in which a person, or even multiple persons on different offices will teach the other assistants, and those assistants can ask questions.

Cisco WebEx Meeting center: 25 participants, up to 500 Cisco WebEx Training center: Up to 1000 participants.

3.- It would be great if the software allow recording of the conference

Record and edit meeting content for future viewing. Share recordings with anyone unable to attend the original meeting.

4.- It would be great if the software is multiplatform (Windows, Linux, Mac), but this is not a must, we have at least a windows machine on every office.

Join WebEx meetings from Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris operating systems, as well as popular browsers.

5.- It would be a plus if we can install the server on our network, but the data transmitted will not be critical, so if this is not possible it will not be a problem.

WebEx never stores your meetings on the network—unless you specifically record one for future use. You can:
Easily share any document you want with complete desktop privacy—unless you choose to share it.
Count on Web Trust and SAS70 certification for exceptional security.
Rely on encryption of every session to ensure that even your most sensitive meetings will remain private.

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Try checking out ConferenceXP. It's easy enough to use and from what I've read it does everything you are looking for except #4.

If you can handle non-free, Adobe Connect is a pretty good product. The university I work for uses it extensively for training classes and support. I think we use the Pro version which offers the ability to host it yourself.

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