I’ve complained about all of the things wrong with the way folk use Web conferencing. Now let me tell you about a web conference that went off well.
A few weeks ago I chatted with a Spanish company looking to launch in the US. Dialcom (not to be confused with the Dialcom that was acquired by then Alcatel a few years back) makes Spontania, Web conferencing software for the enterprise. Given that there are about a billion Web conferencing servers out there not the least of which are from small vendors, like Cisco/Webex and Microsoft, I was more than just slightly skeptical.
So we setup for a Web conference and me being the clever fellow that I am thought it would be great to use the product’s multiparty video-conferencing capabilities. Four-way video conferencing, fun. To make matters worse, I’m based in Israel and the video mixing was being done in Texas, if the service was going to work with me it’ll work with anyone.
Dialcom is still a small company at about 18 people in the US, 70 in total. They’ve taken the conventional structure for foreign startups breaking into the US. Business and marketing are based in the US while engineering remains in Madrid. The company sells through VARs in Europe, but is selling directly within North America. Dialcom is in the middle of developing strategic alliances to resell their technology through ASPs as well as extend their connections with the enterprise 2.0 community.
The software sits on a server in the enterprise and works with the organization infrastructure. It will use the resident Active Directory implementation, leverage Tandberg or Polycom hardware and ties into Outlook or Notes calendars. Dialcom provides its own IM client with Spontania or a snap-in allowing tighter integration with LCS/OC Instant Messaging. The company does not currently offer comparable capabilities with Sametime. Jabber and SIP integration are expected this year.
Other modalities in Spontania are pretty much what you would expect from a Web conferencing system, namely chat, voice conferencing, video conferencing, screen sharing, and white boarding (of course). The video conferencing and audio conferencing stood out the most in our discussions. Even at six frames per second, the video quality was sufficient for a “talking head”.
The software is licensed by capacity of 25 concurrent users at a time. The offering, including IM server and client use, sells for $50,000.
For the most part the software performed as expected. Maybe that's because the engineers were sure to tweak the system in advance to correct any potential issue, but then again even when we were getting the system setup it performed as expected. Adding video certainly helps and running audio conferencing over the Net that works was a nice change...and would help keep it a bit more change in the pocketbook.