Electric, it's a server after all. No, we're not talking about hybrid cars. But everywhere I go lately, the same question arises. "What the heck is the Hybrid Media Service?" followed succinctly by, "Why do I care?"
Let me answer the former first. Are you concerned with any of the below?
Saving cost in your virtual meetings (audio, video, web conferencing)
Simplifying the end user meetings experience (read...reducing frustration)
Increasing quality, especially in video conferencing
Reducing IT administration
If so, the Hybrid Media Service (HMS) may have a place in your environment. The HMS is one of the Cisco Spark/WebEx hybrid services. Meaning it's a bit of cloud infrastructure pulled down and deployed inside your network. Why is that unique? Historically, hybrid involved installing two environments, one cloud and one premise-based, then hacking the two together. Some examples within the meetings ecosystem include the Microsoft/Polycom Real Presence Solution and Cisco WebEx Hybrid CMR (using TelePresence Server). The "old" hybrid approach, when actually working, could alleviate some challenges such as allowing video rooms into an online meeting. Did I mention that it could solve challenges WHEN IT ACTUALLY WORKED. This approach brought a host of new "gotchas" which could be more frustrating than the original problems solved. Those issues include:
Deploying more infrastructure than would have been required for an all on-premise deployment
Frustrating end-user experiences including scheduling and joining challenges
Upgrade and management challenges
Like a white knight, BlueJeans, WebEx Cloud CMR, Zoom and a handful of other solutions which combined web, audio, and video (including video rooms) arrived on the scene. Problem solved, right? More like, problem reduced. While these solutions resolved the need to maintain separate audio and video environments, a new challenge was introduced as all users must traverse the internet resulting in bandwidth and quality issues.
Recap, we started with traditional hybrid approaches, but they were too limiting, costly, and temperamental. We moved to all cloud, which was fantastic, except we introduced quality issues and inefficiencies related to connectivity. Please welcome the Hybrid Media Service (feel free to clap).
The HMS provides features for both WebEx and Cisco Spark. In this discussion, I'm going to focus primarily on the WebEx benefits. The HMS is the Cisco WebEx media stack deployed on VMware in your network. Just as Cisco has deployed cloud locations of WebEx around the world in "the cloud," you can now deploy the media components of WebEx on your network.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to our opening why questions.
Why 1: Saving cost in your virtual meetings (audio, video, web conferencing) HMS allows media generated on-premise, specifically SIP traffic today but expanding to more media types soon, to stay on the network. This reduces bandwidth costs and PSTN usage.
Why 2: Simplifying the end user meetings experience (read...reducing frustration) This may be my favorite part! HMS does not impact the simplicity of scheduling, joining meetings, or even meeting features of WebEx in the cloud. End users don't have to be re-trained or educated on the service.
Why 3: Increasing quality, especially in video conferencing The HMS allows 1080P video and even 4K content in a meeting. The only thing that end users should notice when HMS is installed is better quality meetings!
Why 4: Reducing IT administration The HMS is in all actuality a cloud service deployed on your network. Management requirements are limited and done from the Cisco Control Hub cloud portal. Maintenance, such as upgrades, are pushed from the cloud and scheduled by the administrator.
Still wondering if you should deploy the HMS? Check out this quick comparison of the "old" hybrid architecture.
It's important to understand that the Hybrid Media Service is a new set of features being agilely developed. The service keeps getting better and better!