The rise of videoconferencing

The rise of videoconferencing

With airlines adding new fees just about every day (Delta now charges US$50 for a second checked bag), videoconferencing has never looked more promising.

Products already crowd the market, and vendors have more on the way, many of them offering easy-to-use, high-definition video and audio at reasonable costs.

Take Polycom Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif., for example. According to John Antanaitis, vice president of product marketing, the Converged Management Application (CMA) appliances that Polycom plans to ship in October have a little something for both IT and the end user.

The CMA line will let IT provision video services and apply policies, using LDAP or Active Directory, on things such as least-cost routing and dynamic bandwidth-allocation priorities. And, Antanaitis says, the system gives Windows users a simple client to create videoconferencing contacts, check their availability and initiate two-way video sessions. Combined with the company's RMX multipoint conferencing system, the CMA lets users run interactive videoconferences for numerous locations. The CMA 4000 can handle up to 400 devices. Its big brother, the CMA 5000, supports up to 5,000 devices.

Pricing for 200 CMA 4000 device licenses starts at $20,000.

Search the Entire Enterprise Easily

A single enterprise search system that covers both structured and unstructured data repositories makes a lot of sense. But giving end users both the power of SQL queries and the simplicity of traditional search is hard. Andrew McKay, senior vice president of products at Attivio Inc. in Newton, Mass., claims that his company's Active Intelligence Engine (AIE) "has the precision of SQL and the fuzziness of search."

Not only can the software index and store a database's tabular content, he says, but AIE will also note potential joins among the tables. If an end user's search could benefit from joining the tables, McKay says, AIE will do the joins and combine the information with the search results.

Shipping now, AIE 1.2 takes up a mere 20MB of storage capacity, though it can index up to 1 million documents per server. McKay says you can add hardware on the fly without having to reindex the other servers. Pricing varies.

Back Up Oracle Apps

Started in 1991 as the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver at the University of Maryland, the Amanda open-source backup software project is a favorite among systems administrators. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Zmanda Inc., which offers both open-source and commercial versions of the tool, this week started shipping its agent for Oracle 10g and 11g systems.

CEO Chander Kant says the value of open source is magnified when it comes to backup software. If you have a seven-year document-retention policy and your proprietary backup software supplier goes out of business, Kant argues, you will need to keep at least some remnant of the old technology around for seven years in order to recover the data for, say, governance purposes.

But if your backup software's source code conforms to industry standards, Kant contends, you're less likely to face operational restrictions involving your backup tools in the years ahead. That's why Zmanda has included support for Oracle's popular Recovery Manager module. Zmanda will back up Oracle applications running on Linux, Solaris or Windows systems. For the latter, it integrates with Microsoft 's Visual Shadow Copy Service to ease the archiving of Windows data.

Zmanda Oracle Agent works with Amanda Release 2.6.4. Pricing starts at $300 per server.

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