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Conferencing Recommendations

Northwestern provides a variety of conferencing solutions for effective collaboration among members of the University as well as external colleagues.

The table below offers conferencing scenarios and the recommended conferencing service for that scenario. A comparison of conferencing service offers and service features is provided in the Conferencing Service Comparison section at the end of this page.

To request a consultation for your particular conferencing needs, contact the IT Support Center, or your school or department technical support representative.

Conferencing Scenario Recommended Service

I want to have a videoconference where sensitive, regulated data will be shared (e.g., health information, export-controlled research, and data regulated by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)).

Teams

Webex

Zoom (Additional steps required. Please contact the IT Support Center for assistance.)

I want to have a one-to-one videoconference call.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

I want to have a videoconference for multiple people, but with fewer than 250 people.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

I want to have a videoconference for multiple people, and with more than 250 people.

Webex

Zoom

I want to hold a small-group meeting from a conference room.

Webex

Zoom

I want to run a synchronous video session for my class in Canvas and collaborate on content (white boarding, polling, remote access, etc.) Zoom
I want to offer virtual office hours.

Webex

Zoom

I want to record a videoconference.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

I want to share content in a videoconference.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

I want to have a three-way, audio-only conference call.

Webex

Zoom

I want to have an audio-only conference call with four or more people.

Webex

Zoom

I want to host a videoconference with a remote presenter.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

I want to collaborate on content in a videoconference.

Teams

Webex

Zoom

Conferencing Service Comparison

While the services listed for each conferencing scenario above are recommended by Northwestern Information Technology, you or your department may decide to use another conferencing product. Please see the following tables for a list of the features of each conferencing service.

Service Overview

Webex Zoom Teams
Description The Webex system is composed of four Centers – Meeting Center, Event Center, Training Center, and Support Center – which offer a variety of functions:
  • Centralized space for managing activities and information
  • Deliver online training and e-learning
  • Stage large-scale online events
  • Deliver efficient, personalized customer service and IT support
Zoom is a cloud videoconferencing service for online meetings and classes, support of breakout rooms for project-based learning, and telephony support for audio conferencing. Teams is a communications service that connects people anytime, and from virtually anywhere, by delivering collaboration capabilities. It provides users access to presence, instant messaging, audio and video calling, rich online meetings, and extensive web conferencing capabilities.
Usage Scenarios Meeting Center
  • Presentations and collaborative meetings
  • Product and project coordination, demos

Training Center

  • Faculty, staff, student, and partner training
  • Certification and IT training
  • Distance learning
  • Product rollouts and launches

Event Center

  • Webinars, events, and conferences
  • Employee communications

Support Center

  • Remote IT support
  • Collaborative sessions
  • Internal/external meetings
  • Presentations
  • Events
  • Employee communications
  • Distance learning
  • Collaborative sessions
  • Internal/external meetings
  • Product and project coordination, demos
  • Presentations
  • Events and conferences
  • Employee communications
  • Remote employee and customer IT support
Recommended number of attendees*
  • Meeting Center - Up to 1,000
  • Training Center - Up to 1,000
  • Event Center - Up to 3,000
  • Support Center - Up to eight concurrent sessions

*The maximum number of participants may vary dependending on how participants connect to the conference.

  • Up to 300
  • Up to 250
  • Teams Live Events up to 10,000*

*Requires Microsoft 365 audio licenses.

Information Sharing

Option Webex Zoom Teams
Real-time desktop, application, document, and web-browser sharing Yes Yes Yes
Whiteboards and annotation tools Yes; only annotation tools in Support Center Yes Yes
Video Streaming Yes Yes Yes
Text chat and Q&A (managed and moderated) Yes; threaded Q&A in Event and Training Center only Text Chat Yes; threaded Q&A in Teams Live Meetings only
File Transfer Yes No Yes
Breakout Rooms Training Center Only Yes No

Audio and Video

Option Webex Zoom Teams
Audio Webex Cloud Connected Audio, Webex PSTN, VoIP, Telephony Service Provider Audio Broadcast supported only for Event Center Phone conference, audioconferencing Yes; peer-to-peer audio using VoIP
Audio Features Integrated scheduling and preservationists conferencing; Dial in, Call Me, or Connect with My Computer (with high-definition audio); Active speaker indicator and intelligent video switching; Mute/Unmute participants; Invite by phone; Seamless switching between telephony audio and VOIP Dial-In, Connect with My Computer, Computer Connect, Voice Recognition, Intelligent Video Switching, Mute/Un-mute participants, Robust Security Options Expanded audio features not provided through Microsoft Teams license offering at Northwestern.
Video Meeting Center and Training Center:
  • HD video; multipoint; full-screen view; expanded full-screen view
  • Product and project coordination, demos

Event Center

  • High-quality video; full-screen view; multipoint

Support Center

  • Webex desktop only
HD video; multipoint; full-screen view; expanded full-screen view, upload videos, full frame-rate content sharing HD video; multipoint; full-screen view; expanded full-screen view
Video Devices Meeting Center:
  • Cisco and third-party endpoints; Cisco and third-party soft clients; Webex mobile, desktop, and web; Microsoft Skype for Business; Cisco Spark
  • Product and project coordination, demos

Training Center and Event Center:

  • Webex desktop and mobile (attendees)

Support Center:

  • Webex desktop only
WebClient, Mobile Client, and Desktop Client Desktop, web browser, and mobile app

Specialized Features

Feature Webex Zoom Teams
Personal room Meeting Center only Yes No
Avatars Meeting Center only No Yes
Participant List Yes Yes Yes
Polling Yes; except Support Center Yes Yes
Program and campaign management and post-event surveys Event Center only No Yes, via Microsoft Forms
Lead source tracking and enrollment scoring Event Center only No Yes
Registration management Yes; except Support Center Yes Yes
Testing, instant grading, and instructor scorings Training Center only No Yes, when using the Teams Classes template
Breakout sessions and hands-on labs Training Center only Yes No
Permissions-based remote control Yes Yes Yes
Reports Yes Yes Yes
Background adjustments Yes Yes Yes
Language support List of supported languages English, Spanish, French, German List of supported languages
Meeting transcription Yes Yes Yes

Connection Options

Option WebEx Zoom Teams
Operating system support (Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris) Yes Yes; but no Solaris Yes
Join and attend from mobile devices Yes; except Support Center Yes Yes
Join and attend from web app (no download) Yes; except Support Center Yes Yes
Invite People Email only Yes; except Support Center Yes Yes
Inbound support request Support Center only; click-to-connect, Webex WebACD N/A N/A

Other Tools and Options

Option WebEx Zoom Teams
Network-Based Recording Yes Yes Yes
Recording File Format MP4 MP4 N/A
Access to Recordings Online/Download Online/Download Local
Microsoft Outlook integration Yes Yes Yes
Enterprise Integrations Cisco Jabber, Cisco Endpoints, Cisco Webex Teams, H323, Webex Board Cisco Jabber, Cisco Endpoints, H323/SIP Surface Hub
Single Sign-On Yes Yes Yes
Multi-factor Authentication Yes No Yes

Management

Option WebEx Zoom Teams
User Management Yes Yes Yes
Site Management Yes Yes Yes
Site Report Yes Yes Yes
Encryption 128-BIT SSL Encryption, 256-BIT AES Encryption 128-BIT SSL Encryption, 256-BIT AES Encryption 128-BIT SSL Encryption, 256-BIT AES Encryption
HIPAA Compliant Yes No Yes

Last Updated: 10 August 2020

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