A new approach to data conferencing

A new approach to data conferencing

Labelling desktop videoconferencing as too expensive and bandwidth hungry, Collaborative Computing Australasia is distributing two products it believes can meet many of the goals of videoconferencing at a reasonable price.

The primary product is neT.120 Conference Server from US-based DataBeam. Utilising the T.120 data conferencing standard, neT.120 is designed for the hosting of multipoint data conferences on the Internet or an intranet.

CCA business manager Andrew Baker says neT.120 provides both the T.120 bridge for hosting data conferences, as well as a Java applet for whiteboarding or presentation of PowerPoint slides and the like.

He says to create a conference you need only log in to an HTML-based custom-designed neT.120 Conference Center using a Web browser. Users join the conference by logging into the same page with a Web browser.

"If I wanted to do a PowerPoint presentation to 100 people, and I didn't know who they were, instead of me having to worry about what software or hardware platform they've got, all I have to tell them is to log in at this time for a presentation, and all they need is a Web browser," said Baker.

More than just viewing

Version 2.0 of neT.120, currently in beta release, will include full Windows 95 application sharing, said Baker. "If I run Word on my PC on Windows 95, other people can share that application running on my desktop, regardless of the platform again."

It will also feature RealAudio capture and playback. "So if somebody's missed a conference, they can come back in and actually view the conference as it happened."

CCA's second DataBeam offering, FarSite, is a stand-alone T.120 compliant data conferencing product that runs on all versions of Windows. Baker says FarSite comes with modem and ISDN dial-out functionality, and can connect over TCP/IP and IPX LANs, as well as the Internet.

Similar in design to other T.120 products, such as Microsoft's NetMeeting, FarSite contains whiteboarding, file transferring and application sharing modules. It allows users to control conferences created in neT.120, and lets people viewing those conferences interact with them.

CCA director Richard Burtan says his company is currently looking to sign up dealer partners around Australia, and is already working with one dealer in South Australia.

While most of CCA's work up until now has been in approaching customers directly, Burtan feels the market has reached a level of maturity where resellers could help to spread the T.120 message.

"It's only now starting to come through, that the technology exists. So what we're looking for is probably a couple of major resellers or distributors in each state."

Burtan said the product is ideal for any resellers selling into a LAN environment. "One of the main things that we're interested in is that the people who are involved in selling the product do value add, because the whole concept of T.120 is a value adding process. The product itself is just a medium."

Burtan said CCA is not looking for masses of people to come onboard, as he still expects the initial market to be limited to corporate and government bodies rather than small business.

"We could have spoken to some of the big distributors, but they're the wrong people, because they're basically moving boxes, and you can't sell this product like that. Anybody who's working with the corporate or government IT areas already will have expertise to do this, unless they're just selling boxes.

"We can provide all of the technical support and expertise they need, but they actually don't need a lot, because all they essentially have to do is go in there and be able to demonstrate the product."

While the current focus of DataBeam's products has been data and audio conferencing, it has not entirely forsaken the video market. Baker said at the end of this year it plans to release a video- conferencing Java applet based on the H.320 standard, which will allow conference attendees to watch live video presentations from any Java-compatible browser.

Collaborative Computing Australasia

Tel (03) 9326 6030

Fax (03) 9326 6212

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