TechTarget Article: Video conferencing in the cloud aids Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

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Tech Target, Katherine Finnell, September 14, 2016 (interview with Jeremy Brown, multimedia specialist at EBCI, and Michael Helmbrecht mhelmbrecht)

 

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians deployed Lifesize's Skype for Business integration to migrate to the cloud and improve communications within the community.

When the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians took over its social services from the state of North Carolina, the tribe needed an easy way to communicate during the transition.

Having recently moved their on-premises video conferencing to the cloud, the tribe decided to deploy Lifesize Inc.'s Skype for Business integration to facilitate video conferencing in the cloud.

"We went from a state-run system to by ourselves -- that required a lot of meetings," said Jeremy Brown, multimedia specialist with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

To facilitate the transition of social services, the tribe needed a conferencing system that could be installed quickly to support a large amount of calls within and outside the tribe.

The tribe migrated to video conferencing in the cloud when it deployed Microsoft Office 365. They used Lifesize's on-premises video conferencing endpoints for years and wanted to keep using those endpoints after deploying Skype for Business on desktops. Lifesize's Skype for Business integration allowed the tribe to move to video conferencing in the cloud, but maintain the endpoints they were using.

"One of the biggest features of the cloud is video integration," Brown said. "It's a handy tool to have 25 people on a conference call quickly, [rather] than having to go to another subscription service for video."

Expanding Skype for Business interoperability

The Skype for Business integration is an overlay capability that expands on an organization's existing Skype for Business deployment, said Michael Helmbrecht, chief product and operations officer at Lifesize, based in Austin, Texas.

"We're bringing Skype out of the somewhat more rigid Skype for Business environment into a broader, more interoperable environment," he said.

The integration allows Skype for Business users to make video calls to a broader range of conferencing systems outside the Skype for Business platform. The integration also includes directory-based calling.

Helmbrecht said Lifesize is looking to "sit on top of the Skype for Business workflow" and supplement it with more interoperability by incorporating more conference room devices and expanding collaboration capabilities.

Simplifying management and administration

The move to video conferencing in the cloud has also changed the business culture for many users. Brown said he has to teach users how they can set up conference calls from their desktops instead of reserving a conference room.

"They're shocked. They're used to a long process of booking a room and getting it set up," he said.

Brown said moving from on premises to video conferencing in the cloud simplified his job of endpoint management and administration for 1,100 users.

"I do remember the days when this setup we have now would probably require close to $200,000 in bridges and firewall traversal units," Brown said. "A lot of things now Lifesize has taken care of with the cloud -- that makes it a whole lot easier for us."

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