A Collaboration Tool WebEx Assessment

Sangyoon Oh (soh@csit.fsu.edu)

 

1. Introduction

WebEx provides web-meeting tool using simple web browser. Not like most of sophisticate collaboration tools, meeting attendee does not have to install application before participating meeting. Meeting participants will get everything needed, when they connect to WebEx meeting site using ActiveX technology. Desktop / Presentation / Application / Web Sharing helps presentation or education. WebEx can be easy solution for small distance learning.

2. Specifications

Name of Collaboration Tool:

WebEx

URL's to find out about it

http://www.webex.com/

Capability or Capabilities

          End-User web conferencing collaboration tool

Mode: Synchronous for Web Conferencing

Audio Conferencing: Voice Over IP and Call-In / Call-Out Teleconferencing

Video Conferencing: Presenter uses the Video camera and has a control on it

Chat Room

Whiteboard: Annotation on Presentation is always available.

Quiz / Live Polling / Questions to attendee

Shared Web

Shared Documents of various types (Most of Microsoft Office file, pdf, and Image files)

Shared Application of currently running

Sharing Desktop Environment (VNC feature)

File Transfer

Cost

          $.35 minute / per User + additional charge for Teleconferencing

Requirements/Limitations

          Number of participants:

          Client /Server architecture: Everything is multicast through server.

Minimal system requirements

Security

         Access control (Password protection, Permission level limitation for participants, Invitation only meeting, Expel visitor option, and Domain/Telephony blocking)

         Encryption (Hashed data stream, No documents are upload, Possible SSL session, and Possible VPN using IPSec)

         Firewalls (HTTP-based, Automatic detection of environment for utilization of TCP/IP)

 

Standard

3. Assessment

 

The participation to WebEx Live demo session for made by both WebEx meeting site and Teleconferencing. The environment that I have is Windows2000 with I Explorer 5.5 and T1 connection. Every function was working fine except Sharing Desktop, it is little bit of slower (But not much) than I expected. The presentation of all types of documents uses not an original document but it uses images. The source program opens in the background. WebEx uses the Active Touch Document Loader to display the selected file in the meeting window for all attendees to see. This is good for two reasons. One is reduce the traffic, because not the document itself, but images are transfer through Internet. Two is that with the same reason, we can prevent the damage of original document. Shared application has a shared button over the top, which can control privilege. One good thing is that during application sharing the contents of the window are dynamic. WebEx Meeting Center (which is host service) incrementally updates only those portions of the screen that have changed. Furthermore the updates are transmitted as vector graphics commands and not as bit maps. One more thing to help traffic control, even it uses HTTP protocols, is that it first checks whether TCP protocol is available. If it is, it uses TCP, since it lower the traffic. The price is the problem. Assume you have an hour class of five students, the whole cost per class will be $126 (6 person * 60 minutes * $.35). It is not expensive class but not a cheap one too.