How Google went all in on video conferences (and you may, too)

Editor’s be aware: that is the primary article in a five-part collection on Google Hangouts.

I’ve labored at Google for greater than a decade and have seen the corporate increase throughout geographies—together with to Stockholm the place I’ve labored from day one. My coworkers and I construct video conferencing expertise to assist world groups work higher collectively.

It’s typically straightforward to neglect what life was like earlier than face-to-face video conferencing (VC) at work, however we struggled with lots of the similar points that different firms cope with—cobbled collectively communication applied sciences, dropped calls, costly options. Here’s a have a look at how we transitioned Google to be a cloud video meeting-first firm.

2004 – 2007: Life earlier than Hangouts

In the mid-2000s, Google underwent explosive progress. We grew from practically 3,000 staff to greater than 17,000 throughout 40 places of work globally. Historically, we relied on conventional convention cellphone bridging and e-mail to speak throughout time zones, however cellphone calls don’t precisely encourage creativity and tone will get misplaced in translation with e-mail threads.

We realized that the expertise we used didn’t mirror how our groups really wish to work collectively. If I wish to type out an issue or current an thought, I’d somewhat be face-to-face with my workforce, not ready idly on a convention bridge line.

Google determined to go all in on video conferences. We outsourced proprietary video conferencing (VC) expertise and outfitted massive assembly rooms with these units. 

If I have to type out an issue or current an thought, I’d somewhat be face-to-face with my workforce, not ready idly on a convention bridge line.

Hangouts 1

While revolutionary, this VC expertise was extraordinarily expensive. Each unit may value upwards of $50,000, and that didn’t embrace help, licensing and community upkeep charges. To complicate issues, the items have been powered by advanced, on-prem infrastructure and required a number of help technicians. By 2007, practically 2,400 rooms have been outfitted with the expertise.

Then we broke it.

The system was constructed to host conferences for workforce members within the workplace, however did not cater to folks on the go. As increasingly Googlers used video conferences, we reached most capability on the expertise’s infrastructure and skilled frequent dropped calls and poor audio/visible (AV) high quality. I even bear in mind one of many VC bridges catching on fireplace! We needed to make a change.

2008 – 2013: Taking issues into our personal palms

In 2008, we constructed our personal VC answer that would sustain with the speed at which we have been rising. We scaled with software program and moved conferences to the cloud.

Our earliest “Hangouts” prototype was Gmail Video Chat, a approach to join with contacts immediately in Gmail. Hours after releasing the service to the general public, it had a whole bunch of 1000’s of customers.

Gmail voice and video chat