- DFNconf (Pexip)
6.1. Connection and Video Quality:
The conferences held with DFNconf shine with very good and sharp video quality.
The webcam stream can be used up to 720p30fps with a maximum upload speed of
2464 kbit/s. The sound has good quality with a slight background noise. During our
test we couldn’t identify connectivity issues. The conference was stable, lag free
and without package-loss to the provider. In the conference system the user can
choose from four different upload speeds characterized as low (256 kbit/s), medi –
um (576 kbit/sps), high (1264 kbit/s) and maximum (2464 kbit/s). We recommend
the use of the maximum setting to stream your webcam picture at a resolution of
720p. A higher resolution might cause stutter or lag during the meeting and was
not tested. The displayed traffic for the average upload was about 1.1 Mbit/s
whereas the download speed was slightly lower than 0.9 Mbit/s. Those numbers
may vary using different hardware.
Besides the classic functions to deactivate cam, mute sound, mute participants in –
dividual and the possibility to share your own screen (fullscreen or single program
windows, testet in Firefox, Chrome and Pexip infinity client) pdf and image files can
be uploaded and presented inside the tool. The use of a separate window for better
visibility is possible and we found that feature to be very useful especially when us –
ing big monitors or extended desktop on two screens. There are no tools however
to comment or draw markings onto a presented file. The file sharing is limited to
file sizes of 100 MB. The chat inside the DFNconf tool is combined with an event
log. The chat can be opened as sidebar on the left side of the screen. DFN confer –
ences come with a streaming option to webcast to a wider audience and a separate
chat on the stream webpage.. The tool therefore can be used to stream podium dis –
cussions or lectures. The stream is recorded as .mp4 video file and the host can
access and download the records via the organizer login. Please remember only to
record meetings with all participants informed and agreed into it. The records are
auto-deleted from the DFN servers a fortnight after the meeting.
The GUI is designed very intuitive and the main functions can easily be accessed
through the main panel on the bottom in the middle of the screen (fig. 1). Addition –
al functions are stored in the sidebar on the left side of the screen. During our test
two issues could be identified. The volume control is kind of hidden below the main
panel as a green bar under the controls. It is a white blob which appears only when
hovering the mouse over the bar. Another major flaw of the browser version is the
accessibility of the settings for bandwidth control and cam self test only be ac –
cessed after disconnecting from the current session with the red disconnect but –
ton on the main panel. . These settings usually are displayed before the start of the
conference in the application. If no bandwidth is manual set the application is try –
ing to adapt to the maximum available.
The DFNconf can easily be accessed through the browser. This was tested with
Firefox and Chrome Tests with Opera Browser showed some trouble granting the
browser access to microphone and webcam. The tool can also be used with a client
that can be downloaded here:
https: //www. conf .dfn.de/anleitungen-und-dokumentation/pexip/zugangswege/pexip-cl ient/
Following this link a client branding with presets can be found on the bottom of the
webpage. This client branding changes a few presets in the client for the use in
DFNconf. Settings like bandwidth control and cam/audio self test (fig. 2) can be ac –
cessed before the session starts using this client. Conference rooms can easily be
opened over the “Veranstalter-login” here: https://www.conf.dfn.de/einrichten. You
simply have to login with your FHI account since the tool is exclusive to science in –
stitutes in Germany. Conference rooms are open for multiple days, can be accessed
via a link and should be secured with a pin number. Applications are available for
desktop installation (Windows, MacOS and Linux) as well as smart devices (iOS and
Android). The IPad application was part of the test and performed well. Connecting
with the Pexip Infinity client only requires the room id and not the weblink. Alterna –
tives to take part in a meeting are Skype for business or SIP clients and on the
phone with audio only.
Setting up a meeting on this platform as a host is restricted to scientists working
at institutes who are members of the DFN (everybody at the FHI). However every –
body can follow the invitation links and join meetings without registration from all
over the world. There are no charges at all but the institutes membership in the
DFN. Access to the host login is secured with the FHI credentials
6.6. Data Protection:
DFNconf is an on-premise installation of the Pexip service, run by the “Deutsches
Forschungsnetz Verein” a non profit association for and of the science community
in Germany (membership list: https://www.dfn.de/verein/mv/mitglieder/). The fact
that the conferences can only be accessed with a valid link or through the institute
login makes it a convincing alternative to commercial solutions. Hardly any data
should be stored on their end, all parts of the service are run on servers inside Ger –
many at the DFN or science institutes.
High streaming quality and clear good audio as well as the possibility to present
files and stream the conference make DFNconf a convincing conference system.
The tool is free to use and the data flow is not stored or traveling to a commercial
provider. All core functions needed are provided and can be accessed relatively
easily on a wide base of clients. Based on our test we can definitely recommend it.
Figure 2: Setting that can only be accessed through disconnecting
from the current session inside the
- DFNconf (Pexip)
- Cisco webex
- Cisco webex
4.1. Connection and Video Quality:
Cisco webex delivers conferences in good video and sound quality. The connection
is stable and we could not detect any network related issues. However this only ap –
plies to conferences using the client program. Taking part in a conference using
the browser causes noticeably worse image and audio quality. While testing the
browser access we also noticed minor network issues like asynchronous
video/sound and pixelation of the video stream. This doesn’t mean that you cannot
have good conferences by using the browser version but compared to other ser –
vices like the BlueJeans browser version it falls back remarkable. It’s still usable
but we definitely recommend the client if you decide to use Cisco webex as your
Cisco webex comes with a large variety of useful functions like file sharing, screen
sharing, the options to present documents like presentations and comment on
those documents, a meeting agenda, a protocol system, a chat, a tool to run a sur –
vey, a recording function, website sharing with build-in browser, connection via
telephone, role assignment and a cloud. Furthermore, the client offers a build-in
meeting calendar that can be accessed from the login window of the app. Describ –
ing all those functions in detail would overload this test. The number of functions
and their usability promote Cisco webex as a very versatile tool to organize profes –
sional conferences even for a large number of participants. This applies to the
client version only since most features are not available inside the browser ver –
The Cisco webex conference interface displayed in the browser is simple and easy
to handle. Core features can be found on the bottom in the middle of the screen.
The user interface inside the client was adapted to the numerous features of Cisco
webex. Many functions are accessible through the buttons at the top of the client.
The program is well structured and all of the functions can easily be accessed (Fig –
ure 1). Main functions as microphone or webcam muting are displayed in the main
window. With its well structured client, Cisco webex allows efficient and comfort –
able work even with all these features provided. The meeting calendar can be ac –
cessed via the login window of the client.
Conferences run in Cisco webex can be accessed with a browser or the dedicated
client. We definitely recommend to use the client version since most features are
just not available in the reduced browser version. The browser version was tested
with the latest editions of Firefox and Chrome and worked in both applications. The
client can be downloaded here: https://www.webex.com/de/downloads.html . You
need to create a free Cisco Account to download and use the client. This account
can also be used to log into the Cisco webex website. Meetings can be created
from that website or from the client. It is possible to choose the preferred interna –
tional dialing code for participants who want to join the audio channel on tele –
phone. Moreover the host can create a meeting agenda and greeting before a meet –
ing starts. The web interface allows planing of future meetings. Meetings can be
setup restricted to a limited number of participants and a password. Guests can be
invited using a web link or an automatic email. Participants can choose if they want
to enter the meeting with the desktop program or browser frontend. Mobile clients
for either IOs and Android are available.
The Cisco webex client can be downloaded on the link given above and used for
free and Cisco is offering meetings free of charge for up to 100 users. The free ver –
sion is stuffed with a 1GB limit for shared files. Bigger conferences of up to 200
users plus file sharing of up to 5GB is available as paid service from their sales
4.6. Data Protection:
Cisco webex will save personal data you provide to use their service as well as net –
work information of the participants. A report on their data security standards can
be found on: https://www.cisco.com/c/de_de/about/legal/privacy-full.html .
Users have to be extra careful as Cisco webex and their users are in the focus of
phishing pirates: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/cisco-webexphishing-
Cisco webex scored as a very good service in our test. The professional design and
the vaste number of features make it a round experience to work with compared to
other conference systems. The test meeting showed good video and audio quality.
A big downside of Cisco webex is the restriction of most features to the desk –
top-app and the video and audio quality being very poor in the browser frontend.
We definitely recommend using the desktop-app for Cisco webex. If you do not
want to install the client program you better should use another conference ser –
vice. However if you are fine with the installation of the desktop-app Cisco webex is
one of the most powerful conference services that you can get your hands on at
- Cisco webex
2.1. Connection and Video Quality:
The overall streaming quality of the BlueJeans conference service left us with
mixed feelings. The video signal was partial noisy, washed out, and sometimes with
frame rates lower as captured and can only be described as ordinary and nothing
special. The audio quality on the other hand was, compared to other streaming ser –
vices, of higher level. The audio signal is transmitted almost noise free clearly to
understand without any stutter or artifacts. This probably is due to the Dolby Voice
audio codec BlueJeans utilizes. The test revealed that BlueJeans does not work
well on poor connections facing relevant package loss at low bandwidth. We cannot
recommend using BlueJeans while on an insufficient internet connection. The con –
nection should be at least above 2500kb/s upload and 1000kb/s download speed.
The BlueJeans conference comes with multiple tools. A chat function, the possibili –
ty to upload videos and share your screen. The conference system includes a re –
mote desktop connection option to remote control a distant computer taking part in
the conference. However, screen sharing and remote desktop function are available
only if connected over a sufficient internet connection and cannot be used on poor
connections. Bluejeans offers a whiteboard including an annotation function. The
whiteboard can be used to hold lectures and develop concepts live within the con –
ference whereas the annotation function can be used to share your own screen and
draw markings and notes right into it. The annotation function can be an advantage
while discussing design plans or pictures in general.
The BlueJeans interface is simple and easy to use. The main functions can be
found in the top middle of the screen without going through additional menus. On
the screen the current content to people ratio can be adjusted by using a slider or
one of the buttons in the bottom right corner to keep the conference sorted. Blue –
Jeans does provide a calendar when using the client software instead of the brows –
er entering conferences to keep track with upcoming meetings. It is possible to
take a look at the connection quality and the broadcast settings of the other partic –
ipants by clicking on their name resp. icon on the right side panel.
Like the most conference systems BlueJeans can be entered using a web browser
or a client. The system was tested with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome
without any issues. The client download is available from:
https://www.bluejeans.com/de/downloads . Our test showed that the client is the
better choice using BlueJeans. In some cases we found issues with the communi –
cation between Browser and webcam/microphone which can be avoided using the
client program. Meetings can easily be accessed via the link to the conference
room or by typing the conference ID inside the client. A number of meeting rooms
are already set up for the institute by PP&B run on an enterprise license paid for by
the institute. Please use the Indico calender before using the conference system to
prevent interruption of meetings already ongoing! The BlueJeans meeting rooms
provided by the institute are not password secured and meetings can easily be in –
terrupted by mistake. The calender is available here: https://indico.fhiberlin.
mpg.de/rooms/calendar . You can book rooms there to host your conference.
The BlueJeans conferences provided by the institute are free to use for members at
the institute and there are no additional costs to pay. The client can be downloaded
2.6. Data Protection:
Recent update: BlueJeans became part of Verizon, a USA based telecommunication
concern. Data send over the conference system therefore passes through their
servers. As stated on the website:
https://store.bluejeans.com/de/datenschutzerklaerung , BlueJeans will save any
personal data used alongside its service as well as every connection data. For
more additional information visit their website, please.
BlueJeans is a solid conference system that features all of the necessary core
functions. It shows weakness in the video stream quality but makes it up easily by
the very good audio quality. We strongly recommend using BlueJeans with the dedi –
cated client. The service should not be used on a poor internet connection or low
bandwidth! The build-in whiteboard and annotations function are strong tools to
teach or to develop concepts live within the meeting. Conference rooms can be
booked using the FHI Indico calender (link above) provided by PP&B.
3.1. Connection and Video Quality:
Jitsi could not persuade within our test when it comes to video or sound quality.
The video stream was of low resolution and showed artifact, the sound performed a
constant background noise. Nevertheless Jitsi used up to 2650 kbit/s upload to
stream a webcam picture with 720p@30fps. During the hole test we experienced
bad network connectivity and a high bandwidth load.
Conferences in Jitsi can be used alongside a chat. Jitsi allows screen-sharing and
the share of Youtube content as well as a function to blur the video background.
The user interface of Jitsi is easy to access and use. The ratio of different webcam
streams are displayed and can be modified. Jitsi offers a fast insight into streaming-
and network-information like frame rate, resolution and latency as well as up –
load and download on a click to the connection sign in the top left corner of each
streaming picture. A slider to match your own streaming quality to your bandwidth
is available. Sadly this slider was not working during our test and on adjustment
the stream kept its bandwidth without any change to the (poor) quality.
Jitsi can be accessed with a browser or an installed client-software. The browser
version was tested with Chrome and Firefox. During our test using Jitsi in Firefox
lead to crashes of the browser from time to time while using Jitsi in Chrome we ex –
perienced a drop in video and audio quality and trouble in setting the confirmation
to use the microphone and webcam inside the browser connecting to Jitsi. To use
Jitsi in the desktop-app registration of an account is required. Meetings can easily
be setup over our institutes site at: https://jitsi.fhi.mpg.de/ . The meeting can be
accessed with a link or invitation from the client.
Jitsi is a free open source video conference system. There are no additional
charges to use it and download of the client is free.
3.5. Data Protection:
Meeting rooms in Jitsi only exist during the meeting itself. When nobody attends
the meeting anymore the room is deleted. Jitsi uses a peer to peer connection for
meetings between two participants. Both facts we regards as positive for security.
For multi-user meetings a server solution is necessary. The complete traffic going
through Jitsi is encrypted and meeting rooms are optional password secured. The
server installation of Jitsi at the FHI is entirely run by PP&B on server systems onpremise
at the institute.
Jitsi is a simple video conference tool with all the core features needed. Even
though it has a convincing data security we cannot recommend this tool for profes –
sional use like collaboration calls, group meetings or business meetings due to the
poor video and audio quality and the network and software issues during the test.
Jitsi probably is the best free to use tool to have a fast path to a video conference
for a private meeting if run on a sufficient internet connection.
5.1. Connection and Videoquality:
Our test showed that the video and audio quality in Zoom conferences scale auto –
matically to the bandwidth provided. At high bandwidth webcam pictures in 720p
were streamed easily and the conference ran at very good audio quality. On low
bandwidth the conference system scaled the video and audio quality to a level with
the overall stream still without lag. The videoresolution changed to low and the au –
dio quality dropped and became noisy. The system was tested using a Logitech HD
C510 Webcam with 720p@30fps and a HyperX Cloud Alpha Headset. Network is –
sues related to Zoom servers like lag or package loss could not be identified during
The Zoom service offers a large number of features during the conference. A chat,
recording function, screen sharing, remote desktop, file sharing and the ability to
cover up your video stream background. Furthermore there is a tool to present files
and comment or note on them. The tool to comment and note on presented files
worked more convenient in Zoom than in Cisco webex.
Zoom’s user interface is less structured compared to those of other services. It
was difficult to find some options without intense search. Zoom offers a layout
manager to arrange the webcam streams and content presented to provide an indi –
vidual structured meeting desktop. The warning/information on the meeting being
recorded by the host is almost invisible to the participants being a very negative
aspect in Zoom.
Zoom Meetings can only be accessed using the desktop- app. The client must be installed
on the PC locally and there is no access to meetings just with a browser. Invitations
to a meeting are sent out with a link. Following the link the browser s tarts
the desktop-app or takes to the download page of the app. The app is available for
Windows and MACOS, IOs and Android (mobiles), on the download page browser
plugins for firefox and chrome are featured, which have not been part of this test.
Zoom is free of charge to use for up to 100 conference participants and a maximum
meeting duration of 40 minutes. Duration of two client meetings is unlimited
in time. With the purchase of a pro-license the conference system can be used
time-unlimited together with up to 100 participants. The pro-license is available at
€ 13.99/month per moderator/host. That license model does include a 1GB cloud to
store conference recordings. This might be the appropriate license model for re –
search groups at our institute. Zoom does offer a € 18.99/month per moderator li –
cense for conferences of up to 300 participants and LTI-integration to enable cou –
pling to lecture platforms like Moodle or Blackboard. This license model is de –
signed for educational institutions like universities and can be used to manage hole
5.6. Data Protection:
Zoom had to take a lot of critics recently on their data security. They passed personal
data to partners like Facebook, users can be tracked with the help of the con –
ference system and strangers could enter running meetings (zoombombing). Zoom
conference should therefore only be used as private conference. Zoom now tried to
improve their software with the Zoom 5.0 update. This update introduced AES 256
BIT GCM encryption, a more central organized menu for security settings and a de –
fault password setting for new started meetings. Different classes of meeting par –
ticipants like admin, moderator and normal participants are issued separate passwords.
However there are STILL major security issues in Zoom. Login data can be
accessed through an exploit in the Windows-client, the new encryption allows Zoom
still to look into the data flow and meeting administrators can still track partici –
pants with the use of network information provided by Zoom. The feature of remote
desktop connections, sometimes welcome, might impose additional risks and the
(not)visibility of the recording warning count on the negative. With the wide use of
conference and meeting services the potential of fraud like phishing grows and
users have to be extra careful: https://www.it-daily.net/it-sicherheit/cyberdefence/
Zoom is a conference service with a large number of advantages and disadvantages.
It offers a stable connection with scaleable streaming quality adapt ing to
the bandwidth available and a great number of useful functions that are well imple –
mented. Zoom’s weakness however is the unstructured user interface, limitation of
access to the desktop-app or the need to install plugins for browsers and the limi –
tation to 40 minute per free meeting with more than two participants. Bigger meet –
ings have to be organized with the use of a license for 13.99 €/month for one moderator.
Additional features can be booked and many other plans are available from
their webpage. We do not recommend Zoom as a conference service due to the
major data security issues, missing low profile availability (standard browser and
telephone) and complex high pricestructure.