MN.IT SERVICES does not directly support any system hardware. Hardware must be purchased and maintained by the customer. The most widely accepted and supported systems available are Cisco and Polycom systems. MN.IT SERVICES will assist you in connecting to conferences, configuring your system, and problem isolation.
MN.IT SERVICES recommends the following:
The following systems are at end of life and no longer supported, but still usable on MNET:
Videoconference equipment can be purchased through State of Minnesota contracts. Talk to your account manager for the most current information on recommended systems and how to order.
Because software is frequently improved and enhanced, we STRONGLY recommend maintaining a service contract that includes software and hardware support to ensure cross-platform compatibility and reliability. This allows you to take advantage of improved software and new features. Both major manufacturers (Cisco & Polycom) require an active maintenance contract in order to upgrade system software and require a contract on any new system.
Some of our customers' video systems are nearly 12 years old and still operating. However it.s becoming somewhat common to be unable to participate in some conferences, due to incompatibilities. The appliance-based H.323 group video systems are very reliable. Of the nearly 1,000 systems on our network, fewer than six have failed since installation, and most failed after the initial warranty expired (some failures were self-inflicted or power surge related). This is a strong argument for keeping them under an active maintenance contract.
PC-based webcam and software systems are less than ideal for multi-point conferences. They are not as reliable, are vulnerable to malfunction from routine operating system updates, and have poor echo control. If you are going to use a webcam, plan to spend $50 or more on the webcam and bit more for some headphones or headset to be sure that it is good enough for this kind of application. Ask permission of the meeting organizer to use webcam based endpoints in a conference.
Software updates will typically keep your system up-to-date for five to seven years. MN.IT SERVICES suggests you replace your system when useful new features aren't available for your system, it becomes inoperable, or can longer be covered by a maintenance contract (end-of-life).
Any monitor, television or projector you plan to purchase should be capable of displaying HD video and/or be able to connect to a PC directly. Most new monitors have only component, DVI or HDMI inputs. If you are unable to locate a supplier, call your account representative for current state contract vendors.
Most systems will accommodate at least one additional camera or other video source (document camera or VCR). Some systems support multiple Audio/Video inputs, others do not. Make sure the systems inputs and outputs are supported by your monitor and any other external equipment.
Very few systems support remote control of more than one camera, so if you need multiple cameras, get remotes for the additional cameras if possible, or consider a system with an attached touch-panel.
If several cameras are required, we suggest a video switching device. Discuss this option with your vendor.
Videoconference equipment is priced in the thousands, so it's a good idea to use conditioned power, or have it on a surge protector of some sort. At a minimum, a high quality surge protecting power strip should be used for the system and monitor. Conditioned power will extend the life your equipment and provide excellent surge protection, so if you already have conditioned power in the room, use it, or purchase a small (900 to 1500 Watt) UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).
The best way is to register your system at the manufacturer.s web site. Doing this will allow the manufacturer to send service bulletins to you. This would include any vulnerabilities discovered. The other way is to check your equipment vendor or the manufacturer's website for new software releases. We recommend that you call the Service Management Center before upgrading your video systems so we can verify that all new software is compatible. If we can't verify the software you need, we'll work with you to thoroughly test the new software. In some cases, MN.IT SERVICES may recommend that you refrain from upgrading. In all cases, MN.IT SERVICES requires you re-certify your equipment through the Service Management Center after an upgrade and before attending a multi-point conference. Failure to do so may result in missing one or more events.
Contact the Service Management Center. The video support staff is normally aware of available software, and they may also know if your system is eligible for an upgrade. If so, they will schedule the upgrade to occur after hours. You will be asked to leave the system on overnight. Upgrades should not be scheduled if there is any chance of inclement weather or other event that could cause a power outage. If a system loses power in the middle of an upgrade, it will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for repair, which may be costly in dollars and time without a system. MN.IT SERVICES uses CTMS to track contract status. CTMS may not always report your contract status correctly. If CTMS shows an expired contract that you know is active you should contact your vendor or Cisco directly. Note that CTMS can only report on Cisco devices for contract status. The contract status for equipment from other vendors must be tracked by the purchaser.