Let me share my experience of conducting large scale conferences and Webinars. We have been conducting Conferences to interact with our volunteers on the ground who are helping people during this Corona pandemic.
(Caution: Bear with me it’s a long post)
Last week we tested the platform with around 120 participants in a Video Conference and these are my observations
- Server Configuration:
VPS: 8 cores, 30 GB RAM, 600 Mbit/s
Observation 1: When the conference was launched, there were several people joining the room in quick succession and the loads did shoot-up temporarily and the conference got really noisy (volunteers operating on the ground), logging in from a plethora of devices). At one point I got the “Something went wrong - Reconnecting” message. I restarted the Videobridge, Prosody and Nginx and we were back. However, once all the participants were inside the room, the load stabilized (50% equally distributed over each of the 8 cores) and we had to request everybody, except the 5 presenters, to keep their videos off. There on the Conference went smoothly for an hour and a half without any issues with the the CPU loads consistently at 40-50%
Takeaways - Jitsi-Meet is heavy on the processor(quite naturally), but a lot better than most other platforms I have tested. The RAM usage is very low, about 4GB at most for 120 participants.
For around 30 participants with both their camera and microphone on, the Conference is very smooth.
Observation 2: Based on the previous experience, I moved to a Dedicated Server for the next Conference.
Server Configuration: Dual Intel Xeon 5150, 2.66Ghz - 2 processors, 4 Cores / 4 Threads
16 GB RAM, I Gigabit Ethernet.
Firstly, we configured the server to disable the camera and microphones for all participants on entry to the room. Only five presenters would enable the camera and microphone, while others would be muted. Despite several people joining the rooms in quick succession, the load on the server was minimal. As the Conference progressed, we would allow participants one by one, who had questions, to enable their camera and microphone, ask their questions and then disable it after asking the question. This way the Webinar went smoothly with over 120 participants. The load was equally distributed on each of the four cores and was less than 30% most of the times. The Bandwidth did shoot up at times, but the Gigabit Ethernet port held on. RAM usage was minuscule a 4GB atmost. I enjoyed the Webinar like never before. I conclude that Zoom is no match to Jitsi. Jitsi outperforms Zoom in every which way
Recommendations: As @damencho recommended, it is a good idea to stream to Youtube for very large audiences. The new Youtube Studio is very easy to use once you locate the right panels(takes little time to get used to their interface but is a breeze later).
I would also recommend using Rocketchat(which has Jitsi integrated) for taking questions. Participants can join a Private Channel where the Jitsi Conference room is created(Enable opening of Jitsi Meetings in new Window in Rocketchat settings as the UI is still not optimized). Questions can be posted by participants in the chatroom, polls can be conducted during the meeting and discussions can continue in Rocket chat while still participating in the Jitsi Conference on a different tab. Anybody needing help setting up Rocket Chat,I am more than willing to Help.
One issue which @damencho, @saghul and Team can refine is the Notification popups. For large meetings, the popups can be real irritating and especially when logging in from the Mobile browser.
Otherwise, Jitsi is the perfect platform for Video Conferences and Webinars.