Collaboration tools and services at Fermilab

Sheila Cisko

Sheila Cisko, computing services specialist and videoconference service owner, wrote this column.

Collaboration tools enable individuals and groups at Fermilab to meet and collaborate as if they were in the same room. These tools form the basis of the unified communications services the Core Computing Division offers to the laboratory. Primary services of this type are from the DOE Office of Science Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), which provides us with collaboration services (ECS) that include audio, video and data conferencing. General information is available at the Computing Sector website.

ECS ReadyTalk is an on-demand collaboration service that allows you to hold conference telephone calls and desktop-sharing meetings. The telephone and the desktop-sharing features can be used separately or together. ReadyTalk accounts are required to host a ReadyTalk session but not to join a meeting. Many people already use the system. There are roughly 1,475 active ReadyTalk accounts within the ECS user community, which include over 8,200 hours of phone connections and 2,600 hours of web connections last month. View a ReadyTalk tutorial, which includes details on registering.

ECS Ad-Hoc videoconferencing provides on-demand videoconference services for standards-based IP room systems and desktop clients. There are nearly 50 on-site videoconference rooms or shared workspaces that support communications for globally disparate organizations. The Ad-Hoc system is also widely used at Fermilab. Within the ECS user community there were more than 18,000 video meetings lasting more than 90,000 hours last year. Read details about the ECS Ad-Hoc services.

Instant messaging (IM or chat) is available for everyone at Fermilab with computing privileges and offers quick transmission of text between two or more people. Fermilab’s current instant messaging service uses a technology named jabber, and everyone has a Fermilab jabber address ready to use. Your address can be found by looking at your online telephone listing. We had close to 250 unique jabber users in January at Fermilab. Read details about using the jabber collaboration services.

All these services can be used to support collaboration today. The Core Computing Division is working to improve the unified communication tools at your disposal. We will be seeking your input on requirements and technology that you feel are missing during an upcoming community survey—please watch for it.