In a recent post on FedUC, we discussed the current budget situation facing government agencies, and the stress that impending sequestration is creating.
With money tight and agencies being encouraged to move away from large, capital expenditures and move towards smaller, recurring operational expenditures, getting access to the cost saving technologies that they need has become a challenge.
The Polycom Federal team has spent this past week at the TechNet Land Forces East Conference in Baltimore Maryland. The conversations that the team has had with military IT decision makers are truly validating much of what we’ve discussed about IT budgets on FedUC.
The topic of conversation continues to revolve around embracing Unified Communications (UC) and video teleconferencing (VTC) technologies on a budget. Decision makers are interested in adopting the VTC solutions that can increase productivity, drive efficiency, cut costs and help the military accomplish its mission, but need to do so without breaking the bank.
It’s for this reason that interoperability has been a major concern for attendees that have come to the booth. The military has a legacy IT infrastructure in place already. The cost to rip out existing datacenter hardware and completely redo their existing infrastructure would be too high for military organizations, even with the savings that VTC delivers over time.
Interoperability is important, since new VTC endpoints and equipment need to be able to work with existing datacenter hardware. Luckily, today’s VTC solutions are interoperable and capable of working with legacy hardware and systems. They’re also vendor agnostic, enabling agencies and military organizations to choose systems from any vendor, even if it’s not the same vendor that made their datacenter hardware. Agencies with existing VTC solutions hooked up to ISDN networks may even be surprised to learn that those solutions could also work over IP networks.
Today’s HD VTC solutions can even work in situations where bandwidth is at a premium, since today’s advanced HD video technologies require less bandwidth than before. This means that datacenters don’t have to be built out to handle a significant increase in bandwidth demands from video. Also, new video-as-a-service solutions, which deliver video solutions hosted in the cloud, can vastly reduce the need to implement any new datacenter hardware at all.
In addition to the cost for datacenter hardware and equipment, the Polycom Federal team continuously heard military IT decision makers discuss the prohibitive cost of software as a barrier to VTC implementation.
This is also no longer a problem thanks to the native integration of VTC solutions into enterprise-ready unified communications software platforms. The government is already licensing other software packages from the vendors that create these UC software platforms, which makes it easy and inexpensive to license and implement them across the agency or branch of the military. This can drastically cut the cost to implement an enterprise-wide VTC solution.
Finally, there’s the actual cost of VTC endpoints. And even that cost is being reduced or eliminated. Today’s mobile video applications can be downloaded onto existing mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, effectively turning them into HD VTC endpoints.
Despite the budget barriers that are being felt government-wide, VTC solutions and other cost saving UC technologies can be a reality. Interoperability, reductions in bandwidth usage, video cloud solutions and mobile video communications are drastically reducing the large, capital expenditures that used to be required for an agency to implement a new VTC solution. Even with looming sequestration and continued belt tightening, VTC and the cost savings it delivers, is a hot topic for today’s military.