Pilot Guardrail Guidelines

Pilot Guardrail Guidelines

Introduction

Sococo runs best when your network is configured to optimally support streaming video by allowing Sococo to access UDP. This document provides a quick primer to help you understand why access to UDP is required and offers guidelines for how best to use Sococo while you wait for access to be enabled.

What's all the fuss about TCP and UDP?

All most people really need to know about TCP and UDP, unless you are a network administrator, is that TCP and UDP are protocols for sending bits of data—known as packets—over the Internet. However, teams using Sococo will benefit from knowing a tad more to better understand the performance hit taken when running over TCP instead of the preferred UDP. The primary difference between the two protocols impacting Sococo performance can be cleverly explained by two geeky jokes.

Here's a joke about TCP.
Did you get it?
Did you get it?
Did you get it?

This first joke pokes fun at the overhead TCP incurs by thoroughly checking its work to guarantee reliable data transmission. All of the packets sent over TCP are numbered; confirmation responses are requested from the recipient; and packets are retransmitted whenever an error is found.

I like telling UDP jokes because I don't care if you don't get them.

The second joke is funny to those in the know because UDP doesn’t bother with error checking that slows things down.

How are these jokes relevant? Applications that stream live video—like Sococo—perform far better over UDP than TCP because of its speed; the error correction TCP offers isn’t necessary, and, in fact, causes performance to deteriorate.

Over UDP, an occasional video glitch caused by a dropped packet here and there is a much better meeting experience than waiting for the data retransmission TCP guarantees. When you lose your network connection for a few seconds over UDP, the video will freeze, then jump to the current bit of the broadcast, skipping any bits missed. For minor packet loss, the video or audio will be distorted just briefly as the video continues to play without the missing data.

On the other hand, while UDP is preferred by Sococo for its speed, TCP is more firewall friendly. It’s not unusual for corporate firewalls acting as perimeter protection to allow TCP data transmission but block UDP, the transport mechanism for multicast packets that’s more difficult to protect against potential exploiters. Because of this, business applications like Sococo that stream video are routinely vetted before an enterprise puts in place the application-specific proxies required to both deliver good performance and enable secure UDP streaming.

Our IT/Ops team won’t enable use of UDP by Sococo until our vendor approval process is completed. Do we need to wait to conduct a pilot?

No—Sococo is highly adaptable and you can still use it without UDP. Using the industry standard WebRTC, Sococo tries first to send over UDP and then automatically switches to TCP when UDP traffic is blocked.

We encourage you to proceed with your pilot by smartly limiting your team’s use of video while you wait for access to UDP to be enabled. Now that you have a better understanding why TCP’s error checking negatively impacts Sococo performance, we hope you also see why this guardrail is recommended.


But will our teams still realize value while limiting use of video?

Absolutely! While undergoing the vendor approval process to allow UDP, teams can still freely use the integrated audio, screen sharing and chat messaging for all of their daily work and Agile ceremonies. No doubt adding video to team interactions amplifies human connection, but use of video is not required for your teams to realize value fast.

Your distributed teams will quickly feel more connected, even while limiting their use of video. Signing on to Sococo each day, team members have immediate access to each other wherever they are. Physical location becomes irrelevant; everyone is co-located in a single place with the ability to meet instantly and socialize casually.


Greater awareness of each other’s presence is generated by a combination of a visual map layout and an avatar that radiates activity, status and availability. Your teams will experience the ease of coming together for daily standups and breaking out afterwards—as well catching the person essential to removing a blocker the minute she’s free—all key to the organic, self-organizing nature of Agile work.

What specific guardrails for video use are recommended?

Play around a bit to see what works best in your particular network environment. You may experience satisfactory performance allowing one to three videos in small meetings, in addition to audio and screen sharing. However, we do not recommend streaming more than three videos in any meeting when running over TCP.  For larger meetings (6+ people), agree to use no video or establish a norm that only the current speaker turns on video.

Tip: When you are running over TCP—and using video for large meetings (6+ people) is NOT advised—we recommend suggesting instead that folks right-click on the room and select Zoom to Room to get a close-up view of all of the participants’ avatars in the room. Doing this adds visual cues to enhance the meeting experience. Look for blinking avatars to see who’s talking and use the positioning of avatars around the virtual table to facilitate turn-based discussions.


Can Sococo’s dial-out feature be used as a guardrail to guarantee a good audio experience in large meetings?


Sococo’s dial-out feature allows you to connect a phone line to the audio portion of a meeting underway in a Sococo room. Typically dial-out is used to call individuals who need to participate without signing on to Sococo. And, yes—this dial-out feature can also be used to put in place a backup plan for the audio portion of large meetings to minimize disruption to the meeting flow.

To use dial-out as a guardrail to guarantee good audio, ask one participant in the Sococo meeting room to right-click on the room; select Dial a phone participant; then dial a conference bridge number.

Share the conference bridge number with all meeting participants. Anyone experiencing poor audio quality due to poor network connectivity can elect instead to mute their Sococo mic and call into the conference bridge line using their phone.

 

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