Video conferencing adoption is on the rise. On the most basic level, quality is improving and costs are dropping. Business value is increasing as organizations use video conferencing to recruit employees, bring together distributed workforces and meet with clients anywhere in the world — all without the time and travel expenses often required to coordinate and conduct face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing can also improve employee engagement and enable greater collaboration.

As video conferencing continues to grow in importance, organizations are being more diligent about evaluating equipment that can help them maximize their video conferencing investments. As session initiation protocol (SIP) becomes more popular, manufacturers are starting to use it for video conferencing, in lieu of older interoperability protocols such as H.323.

SIP makes it possible for endpoints to connect, initiate a rich media session, and end the session. For video conferencing, SIP also includes the session description protocol (SDP), which defines the session as voice or video and establishes session parameters such as voice or video codecs or encryption. SDP enables developers to use any existing encapsulation protocol, so many SIP-based video conferencing systems use the H.323 protocol. However, SIP-based video conferencing also reduces endpoint and infrastructure complexity, simplifies management, and makes it easier to add capabilities.

Because SIP is widely used in today’s unified communications (UC) platforms, such as ShoreTel Connect, SIP video conferencing can be seamlessly integrated with UC. This makes it possible for users to launch a video conference from a desktop or mobile device, or use presence information to see who is participating in a session. As SIP video conferencing becomes more popular, external interoperability across organizations will continue to increase.

In addition to being the ideal protocol for onsite video conferencing platforms, SIP is widely used for hosted video conferencing services. As a result, the integration of internal and hosted video conferencing applications becomes much simpler thanks to increased SIP adoption. Another advantage of SIP video conferencing is Quality of Service, which isn’t provided with Internet-based video conferencing. Shifting from an Internet platform to SIP can improve the quality of a video conference.

Organizations looking to leverage a SIP-based video conferencing platform and integrate it with UC should make sure there are no compatibility issues with the vendor’s proprietary UC dashboard application. Because some legacy systems may require significant upgrades to properly implement SIP video conferencing, the best approach is to create an environment that can support existing protocols while transitioning to a SIP system. This will simplify the integration, reduce the risk of conflicting protocols, and eliminate the need to purchase gateways that enable SIP and H.323 to work together.

By improving interoperability and management simplicity, SIP video conferencing can help organizations take full advantage of video to build a culture of collaboration. Let IPC help you plan an effective deployment strategy for SIP video adoption and UC integration.