Microsoft® Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server provides an extensible platform for real-time online conferencing. You can schedule and conduct online conferences with live audio and video, and you can offer additional features such as whiteboard drawings, chat, application sharing, and file transfer. You can structure online conferences by reserving conference resources, inviting conference participants, and setting the properties for each conference. Conferences can be public or private and can accommodate two or more attendees. The centralized reservation system of Exchange Conferencing Server allows you to schedule and join conferences from the Microsoft Outlook® calendar. If you are not an Outlook user, you can join conferences from a Web browser by using the conference location URL included in the conference request message.

Exchange Conferencing Server provides powerful tools for real-time collaboration between coworkers in large and small companies. The primary components of Exchange Conferencing Server are Conference Management Service, Data Conferencing Provider, and Video Conferencing Provider. Data Conferencing Provider, which is based on T.120 protocols, and Video Conferencing Provider, which is based on IP multicast protocols, are called conference technology providers. Third-party conference technology providers are also available.

Conference Management Service   Conference Management Service is an extensible platform that you can use with Microsoft and third-party conferencing technologies.Conference Management Service coordinates and manages conferencing technologies and resources, and tracks and controls access to conferences.

Data Conferencing Provider   Data Conferencing Provider is a conferencing technology that provides multiple collaboration tools, including multiparty application sharing, chat, whiteboard drawings, and file transfer. These features are based on the T.120 International Telecommunications Union–Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Recommendation for Multimedia Conferencing. Data Conferencing Provider creates a data conferencing environment that optimizes conference performance and network resources, and provides a bridge for participants on remote sites and across firewalls.

Video Conferencing Provider   Video Conferencing Provider is a conferencing technology that provides multiparty video and audio conferences over multicast-enabled IP networks. Video Conferencing Provider allows conference participants to see and hear each other simultaneously, eliminating the need for a parallel teleconference. The multicast-enabled network optimizes network bandwidth, while distributing audio and video communications to conference participants.

Exchange Conferencing Server integrates the features of all installed conference technology providers and provides these features to conference participants; for example, if you install a third-party telephone conference provider along with Data Conferencing Provider, you can schedule a conference using a resource that has both data and telephone capabilities. Conference participants can share desktop applications and communicate by telephone at the same time. Together, Video Conferencing Provider and Data Conferencing Provider can provide a bridge to a Video Conferencing Provider multicast conference for Microsoft NetMeeting® clients that use the H.323 unicast audio/video standard.

Chapter 2 describes each of these components in detail.

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