Zoom Appliances

REANNZ has used the cloud-based video conferencing software Zoom for over five years. We have used it to manage our meeting rooms, to support our members and remote workers, and anyone working from home. We have been working in a fully distributed manner for ten weeks now and have found Zoom to be a critical replacement for in person communication.

We recently decided to deploy the Zoom Meeting Connector. This is a virtual appliance that you deploy in your on-premises compute infrastructure. With that installed and configured, your audio and video traffic will be routed via the appliance rather than the cloud. This should reduce latency and increase the resilience of our Zoom service. As the closest Zoom cloud servers appear to be Sydney and Melbourne, we expected the latency decrease to be significant, which improves the video conference experience. In the event of your local appliance being unavailable, traffic will reroute back to the cloud. The appliance is free to use, but there's no billing rebate for hosting the infrastructure locally.

Following the online instructions, the installation and firewall configuration was straight forward. We installed an appliance into our data centres in Hamilton and Wellington. The appliances are bound to your account by a cryptographic token, and the administrator can control which users use the appliance. After initial testing with a limited number of our users, we switched all of our users over to use the appliances.

At this point we would count the trial as a success. We have seen significantly lower video latencies (~7ms vs ~30ms). We have also observed the traffic being balanced over our data centres, with users connecting to their closest appliance.

Zoom adoption has been accelerating due to the current pandemic. With increased use, the load on the Zoom infrastructure will also increase. While we do not foresee any issues with the Zoom cloud infrastructure, this on premise solution does provide an option to be insulated to some extent from issues encountered during this time.

If you are curious about running an on-premise Zoom appliance please get in touch at help@reannz.co.nz, we would be happy to share our experiences to date.

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