I’m sure most of the people working with technology are familiar with the terms IPv4 and IPv6. In a nutshell – every device connected on a network (Internet or private network) requires an IP address in order to “communicate” to other devices. The current standard for these addresses is called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4), and it forms the foundation of most Internet communication today. IPv4 however suffers from several important shortfalls, most importantly the lack of sufficient address space. For that reason, IPv6 was developed which introduces a number of other improvements especially to QoS (Quality of Service) and Security.
In order to utilize a device for a video conference, regardless whether it is a high end video codec or a smartphone, that device needs to be connected to a network, so naturally it will require an IP address. Without going in too much technical details, but still mentioning the most important terms, let’s see how IPv6 features will affect video communication.
Huge address space
The most important benefit of IPv6 implementations is that it will provide virtually unlimited address space, by introducing 128-bit address, versus the 32-bit address used by IPv4. Just as an analogy, it will be enough to assign IPv6 address to every atom on the earth and still have enough left to do another 100+ earths. This will allow virtually any device in future to be assigned a globally reachable address, which in turn means that NAT (Network Address Translation) will be no longer necessary in the long term, and removing NAT from the equation will solve a lot of the interoperability issues in real-time services such as VoIP and Videoconferencing. It will also be possible to assign multiple network addresses to devices which means they can stay connected to several different networks at the same time.
Improved Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service refers to the ability of the network to prioritize certain traffic to other and is especially important to VoIP (Voice over IP) and Video Communication, since we don’t want to have any delay here. The way data is transmitted in today’s IP networks is in form of network packets. These packets consist of two parts: packet header – containing control information, and payload – containing the used data. IPv6 improves over IPv4 in terms of QoS is by introducing new field in the packet header called “Flow Label”. This “label” is used to identify and prioritize certain packet flow, for eg. video stream and allows devices on the same path (routers, switches…) to read the flow label and take appropriate action based on it.
With IPv6, addresses can be assigned automatically and dynamically by the client device, by getting the network prefix from any router it finds and then generate the full IP address for that network, based on the hardware MAC address. This means there will be no need for DHCP servers like with IPv4, and also less configuration requirements. DHCPv6 will of course still be available for assigning IPv6 addresses.
IPv6 will provide better security than IPv4 when it comes to authentication and encryption of the transmitted data. The main reason for that is IPsec – a security protocol that is mandatory for IPv6 systems, and only optional for IPv4 environments. IPsec is defined as a set of security standards, originally written as part of the IPv6 specifications, and allows data to be secured from the originating to the destination host (through the various network elements such as routers, gateways…) by maintaining data confidentiality, integrity and authentication at the network layer. Another security improvement comes from the fact that IPv6 subnets will be so large so any attempt for hackers to scan them searching for a specific host will be ineffective.
Mobility refers to the ability of a device to move between different IP networks and still maintain the same IP address. This is very important for IP enabled real-time communication services, no one wants to be disconnected from a call while moving from one physical location to another. For that purpose, the Mobile IP protocol was designed by IETF. This protocol was further enhanced with Mobile IPv6 and Hierarchical Mobile IPv6 (HMIPv6) which propose higher level of security and more efficient data transmitting.
Big packets and improved routing
Another benefit to visual communications is IPv6 support for very big packet payloads, up to 4 billion bytes (IPv4 supports up to 65535 bytes only). With bandwidth becoming cheaper and the increase in device processing power, supporting big packets delivery will be important when dealing with high quality multimedia content of the future. Even though the packet can be a lot bigger than in IPv4 systems, the actual routing of the information is improved due to the simplified packet header and structured approach to addressing, which reduces the amount of information network routers must store and leads to faster packet forwarding.
When talking about IPv6 impact on the network, it is very important to consider the migration strategy as well, from Ipv4 to IPv6. Basically there are three ways to manage this: dual-stack implementation where all the network components and devices support both IPv4 and IPv6, tunneling – is implementation method where IPv4 packets get encapsulated and transported over IPv6 network backbone, and proxy translation – where network border element performs the mapping of packets from one IP version to another.
Most likely, providers and businesses will opt to upgrade the existing network infrastructure to dual stack in order to support both customers. Some network elements that do not support dual-stack mode will have to be upgraded or replaced and new infrastructure that will be deployed will have to support IPv6 dual stack from the beginning.
Each migration strategy will definitely introduce certain level of latency in the network, so that is just a reason more that all services must be properly tested before a production rollout.
“Hello, I am your Videoconference Operator. How can I help you?”
It is 9.30 am. The reception of the conference facility welcomes a group and accompanies them to their previously booked videoconference room. When coming to the room they see their colleagues have already arrived and started with the preparations. A colleague of the group cannot make it on time and has informed the other group members that he wants to participate via telephone. He is already dialed in and takes part in the preparations. A 30 minutes preparatory meeting takes place. Afterwards a signal is given and at 10 am sharp the business partners are connected as well. The negotiations can begin. In the background works the managed service.
That is how daily business can look like with managed services. In the example we have chosen, a back-office videoconference operator prepared the videoconference. The preparations begin before the actual videoconference with the operator testing all videoconference rooms that will be dialed in. Thus a smooth running of the videoconference is ensured. Problems can be identified and solved beforehand. Special requirements or processes can be adequately tested and when in doubt be revised.
Also for the colleague who could not come to the conference room in person, a managed service has advantages. The responsible operator can quickly take action and change the infrastructure according to the new circumstances. He opens the dial in port for the telephone and immediately passes that information on to the participant.
The participants from the business partner also profit from the videoconference operator. While the preparatory meeting still goes on, he already has “taken care” of the “external” location. The location is connected in a sub-conference and audio and video quality are tested. After a successful check the room awaits the starting signal to enter the main conference. After the participants have given their “OK” the external location has been connected to the main conference and the meeting can begin.
These and others are the daily tasks of a managed service videoconference operator. Our example illustrated the preparation and testing in a pre-call, which allows the participants to completely focus on the videoconference itself. Technical functionality and completeness of the meeting are taken over by the operator.
Working according to time schedules also is a means of organizers to be able to draw up very complex videoconference settings and allows participants a high degree of flexibility.
Videoconference monitoring is another task that will be taken care by the operator. In case of technical problems the operator can react immediately. This however does not mean that the operator is able to follow the content of the conference. He rather monitors the endpoints and the infrastructure and thus is able to identify alarms or other abnormalities and quickly analyze and solve them. This guarantees a smooth and uninterrupted videoconference. The participant can focus a 100% on the meeting, because he is not distracted by operational details.
Managed services account for an increasing efficiency and reliability in videoconferences, which also presents new opportunities.
Do you have experiences with this topic? Have you ever been in a situation where you would have wanted an operator? I am looking forward to your stories and reactions!
The office of the future. The concept in itself is enticing, but what features will become customary of the modern design and how will it impact on productivity and general wellbeing? Current designs are perfectly good enough for present-day needs, with some embracing some unconventional decor which is thought to stimulate the creative mind. Future designs are however likely to profit from the inevitable technological progression of the future.
The ingenious 3D printer. The technique used involves the production of a three-dimensional object from a digital model. A large growth in their sales has seen a substantial drop in their price and a consequential rise in their commercial use.
3D printers can be used to virtually recreate anything, for example, draft product models for promotional use, and can be very handy if your business deals with the real items rather than virtual sales. It can mean an easier design and testing process, which could decrease the time to market, reducing the overall expenditure as a consequence.
Recent research has shown that being seated for much of the day can increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as having negative effects on your posture. Office desks that require you to stand are a great initiative and are becoming increasingly more popular as more organisations try to fit back against lifestyle of physical inactivity.
There are now a large range of standing workstations in versatile designs for businesses that have shown a willingness to invest in the standing desk trend.
With respect to the prevalence of robots, today’s office is a far cry from the office of the future, which is likely to boast sophisticated robotic technology that will take task automation and productivity to a whole new level. A robotic future will allow employees to work remotely from home whilst still participating in the same human interactions of the office.
Although it is expensive to equip entire offices with technology of this kind, it boasts a highly modern approach to videoconferencing and newer designs are becoming increasingly more adept; automatically docking themselves to nearby charging stations and easily synchronising with employee schedules.
The offices of the future are very likely to incorporate touchscreen panels and interactive displays on tables and walls, completely eliminating the need for dials, keyboards and mouses. It is thought to be more space efficient, faster and to encourage digital productivity.
The simple swipe or tap of a screen will see you using an easier wireless setup to collaborate ideas with clients and co-workers as well as allowing simple adjustments of the office lighting and acoustics. Again, the growing use of touchscreens has led to a decrease in the marginal cost of touchscreen technology and hence its usage is now more viable.
Living Green Walls
Peculiar as it may sound, living green walls are simply walls that are covered in greenery or vegetation and can be incorporated as office partitions or as an alternative to the conventional unadorned office wall. As well as the foliage being a tasteful visual display, interior green walls offer a number of other benefits.
They are thought to combat Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), where occupants of a building experience acute health discomforts due to poor indoor air quality. It is expected to encourage the rate of fresh air exchange and discourage allergenic mould growth. Green walls are relatively low maintenance with automatic irrigation systems and are far more water-efficient in contrast to conventional ground plant growth. It eliminates the potential for soil-borne pathogens, are cleaner and can also boast beneficial insulating properties. Whatever your office preferences, the vertical garden fad is taking the office design by storm and is becoming ever more prevalent.
The office of the future is sure to contain features that are absent in the traditional office design.
What are your ideas with respect to the modern office of today? Comment below!