Networking, Videoconferencing and Collaborative Environments

Paper: 407
Session: D (talk)
Speaker: Newman, Harvey, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Keywords: networking, desktop computing, international WAN, video conferencing, world-wide collaboration

Networking, Videoconferencing and Collaborative

H. Newman, R. Mount and P. Galvez
California Institute of Technology


Collaborative environments supporting point to point and multipoint
videoconferencing, document and application sharing across both local and
wide area networks, video on demand (broadcast and playback) and interactive
text facilities will be a crucial element for the development of the next
generation of HEP experiments by geographically dispersed collaborations.

Over the last few years ISDN-based videoconferencing has become a vital tool
used by members of international collaborations in the US, Europe and Japan
for the daily conduct of the major experiments now in operation, as well as
for the preparation of future experiments. IP-based conferencing, starting
with the MBONE, has been used regularly by a small sector of HEP (including
members of the CMS Collaboration), with software tools not fully optimized
for the limited bandwidth of today's Internet, nor for an affordable share
of HEP's principal international leased lines.

As reviewed in this paper, the situation is about to change dramatically.
Over the last year, the Caltech group, in cooperation with the Fermilab HEPNRC,
LBL, and other member of the Internet community, has deployed and developed
videoconferencing on SGI UNIX platforms based on the LBL protocol suite. The
Caltech-developed systems include low bandwidth videoconferencing with
a high degree of interactivity (10-15 frames per sec in a bandwidth of 100-200
kbits/sec and relatively high resolution), gateways between IP-based and
ISDN conferencing, as well as a Web-based tool suite for conference management,
session registration and control, and the creation of multiple virtual private
video-groups. Following several IP/ISDN transatlantic and pan-European
test conferences conducted in 1996, and the completion of the Web-based tools,
a Beta test service using reserved bandwidth occupying a minor portion
of the US-CERN transatlantic line is scheduled for the Spring of 1997.
Based on currently ongoing developments, the initial service will include
interworking between conference-room and desktop ISDN codecs, UNIX and Windows
NT and Windows 95 platforms, using ISDN or IP as the transport medium.

Apart from the features of collaborative environments, and the near-term
developmentsmentioned above, other major changes in 1997 include the release
of international standards (H.323) allowing LAN-based workstations to
participate in WAN videoconferences via H.320 gateways. Widespread
of the T.120 document sharing and T.126 application sharing standards are also
expected to appear, making platform-independent fully-featured collaborative
environments possible this year or next, with

Videoconferencing developments in industry (emphasis on low resolution
PC systems running over POTS; high end systems running MPEG2 over ATM for
distance-learning and telemedicine; higher-than-HDTV resolution video systems
for auditorium remote conferencing) will be contrasted with the developments
and principal requirements by HEP and the academic research sector of the
"Internet Community".

From another perspective, the immediate and longer term potential of
Web-integrated videoconferencing systems with built-in data caching, compressed
imaging, automatic multiple stream generation and management, and reliable
real-time data delivery mechanisms will be examined. The issues of
implementing these collaborative systems as well as a broader range of HEP
application in the context of future "Internets" will be discussed.