Exclusive: Genesys caters enterprise-friendly meetings

Meeting Center 4.0 eases deployment and use, while sparing network resources

When I’m invited to online meetings, they’re often hosted with WebEx, Microsoft Live Meeting, or Adobe Breeze. More and more, however, Genesys appears in the URL -- which shouldn’t surprise those in the corporate world. This company’s been devoted exclusively to business conferencing for 20 years; Genesys Meeting Center 4.0 proves why it has succeeded for so long.

After using Version 4.0 (in beta until December), I appreciate how much effort Genesys Conferencing put into understanding and satisfying the online meeting requirements of large enterprises. As a start, one of the big problems with competing services is the need for participants to download a plug-in before joining meetings. Meeting Center 4.0 was completely rebuilt around AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) technologies, so only a browser is required. Moreover, all the multimedia features -- from slide transitions and live video to VoIP audio -- worked perfectly on the various platforms and browsers I tested, including Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7.

Release 4.0 should also please IT and help desk staff. It no longer uses pop-up windows or cookies -- and it’s very bandwidth-friendly, typically pushing minuscule bytes over your network.

Genesys Meeting Center forms the hub for meeting organizers. It allowed me to easily control Web, voice, and videoconferencing features from various tool palettes. Although I had no trouble getting around, there are quick-start menus that guide first-time users on how to start or go into a meeting. Additionally, the new software version can be deployed throughout an organization with standard tools, such as Altiris or Microsoft SMS. Importantly, it offers a customized UI which allows admins to specify available features.

The Web portion offers what I’ve come to expect: the ability to deliver PowerPoint presentations, share any document or application in real time, take participants on guided Web tours, and conduct live surveys or quizzes.

Click for larger view.
Voice conferencing is hard to manage in a lot of conferencing products I've tested, but Genesys seems to have the problem under control. First, the telephone conference portion provides access for 125 people. Yet the Desktop VoIP feature really piqued my interest; it, too, requires only minimal bandwidth (10Kbps to 12Kbps), produces high-quality speech, and doesn’t require any firewall rule changes.

For convenience, participants can switch between the PSTN and VoIP audio at any time during a session.

Overall, the system performed well and allowed me to complete tasks with minimal steps. For instance, setting up a meeting and sending invitations requires just two steps. Moreover, I invited people while in a meeting using MSN Instant Messenger.

Yet with this simplicity Genesys didn’t skip much. On the advanced side, you can create custom forms to pre-register users for meetings. Plus, as meetings progress, the moderator can gather and pace participants in different audio subconference rooms for private conversations. Archiving of meetings as well as secure access -- via SSL -- are provided.

The final thing Genesys has done right is its pricing model. All the features are available for one flat rate, per participant, billed per minute.

All in all, Genesys Meeting Center 4.0 -- with its new interface, faster meeting startup, and complete features for a flat fee -- is an excellent choice for large enterprise customers.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Performance (20.0%)
Integration (20.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Features (30.0%)
Ease of use (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Genesys Meeting Center 4.0 9.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8