Selecting the best cloud-based video conferencing solution for you and your business is an exercise for the imagination. Just like the metaphor suggests, the cloud can become whatever shape you can see in it. Its power, and the reason it has taken precedence over traditional on-premises video conferencing systems, is its flexibility.
By investing in cloud video calling you are essentially moving the data burden onto someone else. Well, you are paying someone else to take that burden from you. That leaves you able to demand as much storage space as you need without having to buy and maintain servers. It means you can have as many users online as you need without having to service their connections. It means you can use the cameras and devices that best suit your needs without being tied to a specific brand.
And the subscription-based software service model means you don’t have to make long-term financial commitments. Not happy? Just walk out after a year, or even a month, and try something new.
The best cloud-based video conferencing solutions put you in complete control of your experience. The services listed below will help you tailor your video communications system to perfectly fit your business.
Know Your Needs
Here’s where your imagination comes to the fore. You have to approach your cloud video calling solution with the future in mind. Project forward a few months, years, or a few dozen extra employees and consider the scale and flexibility of the service you’ll need at that time–not just right now.
VC Daily has previously outlined the essential features your cloud-based video conferencing service should contain, but now it’s time to consider how you’ll deploy those features in your workflows.
Ask yourself the following:
- How many locations need to be connected?
- Do we need to accommodate home office and BYOD endpoints?
- How many user licenses do we need?
- What meeting sizes do we need to facilitate?
- Are we connecting personal workspace desktops?
- Are we using video connections internally, externally, or both?
- What features are essential to our needs: screen sharing, file sharing, group calls, video recording, whiteboarding?
As a final word of advice before we unveil some of our favorite cloud-based video solutions, we urge you to keep two things in mind:
- Cloud solutions should offer you enough storage and connectivity to handle all your team’s internal and external connections.
- Video communication should be integrated with your team’s workflows.
The second bullet reflects the fact that video isn’t a standalone tool anymore. You can use the cloud to merge it with the way your team creates, shares, debates, and collaborates in their day-to-day duties.
The vendors below can help you build this unified platform.
The Best Cloud-based Video Conferencing Solutions
The list below favors video vendors that offer more than just a way to meet face-to-face online. Of course, they also offer the video calling essentials, but with your future growth and mobility in mind, these options are more open-ended in their potential deployment.
Remember, you’re looking for the best solution for your business. There’s limited risk involved in striking a cloud-based deal, so aim for perfection.
Microsoft’s new flagship business platform jumped to the top of our Best Video Conferencing Software of 2019 list ahead of more nimble contenders Zoom and BlueJeans for two reasons–and those reasons make it a great cloud video option.
First, it offers a huge cloud profile. The amount of online storage offered to each user is measured in terabytes, not the gigabytes of some standalone video offerings.
Secondly, it is a seamless piece of an overall workplace collaboration package. Microsoft didn’t invent this new kind of platform (that honor rests with the vendor below) but by leveraging the functionality of its Office 365 suite with chat, video, and multimedia connectivity, it offers the most rounded cloud service we’ve yet found.
It also helps that it is cheap (Teams also has a free version now that is a good way to trial the service) and its video calling app is packed with features.
Slack impresses for all the same reasons as Teams–with the caveat that you have to source your documents and spreadsheets elsewhere and build them into your setup. But that’s the point of Slack. It started a business communications revolution by condensing every aspect of office communication into a single workplace collaboration platform and then placing video calling right in the middle. Slack’s video calling feature is good enough without being spectacular, but you can pair it with just about any camera or room device that works with your boardroom, huddle room, or individual needs.
It could be argued that our focus is straying too far from the central video conferencing experience by placing Zoho among this company, but as we said earlier, the cloud makes video calling one component of your overall workflow. Judged in that way, Zoho’s Cliq is among the cheapest and easiest to navigate cloud services around. It comes with its own suite of office features, you get lots of online space, and it is highly scalable. The only real drawback is that you’ll need a third-party extension to expand your group call numbers to a reasonable size.
Vidyo is the biggest video calling experience you may never have heard of. Unlike those above, this vendor is all about video meetings–but it is great at them. Its chief asset is its scalability and extensive features. The power behind video conferencing ATMs, major emergency healthcare networks, and even the CERN communications network can accommodate networks of users measured in the thousands and gives video moderators unmatched power to schedule, administer, and host meetings. From live streaming to intimate internal meetings, Vidyo can do it all.
You can’t make a “Best of” video conferencing list without including the shiny, (relatively) new billion-dollar tech unicorn that is Zoom. The reason for this platform’s rapid rise from startup to video conferencing darling is simple: the user experience. Zoom is for business managers and team leaders who have vision without a lot of IT know-how. It is easy to use, easy to install, easy to scale, and easy to integrate with any hardware or workflow preference. It’s just a piece of your cloud video calling puzzle, but it could be the central one.