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Is Access Grid worth it?
At a meeting I attended yesterday, there was some discussion as to whether expenditure on supporting access grid was cost effective.
My personal experience of video conferencing consists of many AG sessions and many H323 based videocons. For video conferences with multiple site involved, H322 is just plain hopeless (at least the way we do it). AG beats it hands down. So, if we need more than three sites, we have to have a physical meeting or use AG. So there is a case for AG over H323 (maybe in addition).
Let's do a worst case analysis - each site provides only one attendee to a meeting, then lets say each time, there is a saving for that site of (about hundred quid each travel, plus 100 quid each in productive time spent not travelling). Let's guess at about 200 meetings a year (a vast underestimate at the CCLRC), which implies a saving of about 20,000 a year, which is about what the kit was in the first year.
With 40 sites in the country, we're saving about 800K per annum (this must be a very lower bound, the real number must be much more than that, because most meetings average several attendees at each site).
Such an analysis doesn't even address the carbon savings in not travelling, an d to my mind these are even more important - nor does it address the international aspect.
However, the AG experience isn't as good as it could be, and I haven't included the (significant) cost of having an operator in these figures. For more sites to get involved and use AG, and to drop the operator cost, we need to improve it. On those figures alone, there is a prima facie case for us to spend very significant sums and effort on AG support.