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Welcome to ‘Synergizers: The Experts Behind Video Interop”, the series where we talk and spotlight the developers and innovators behind the interoperability and video conferencing management tools simplifying the way organizations meet. The movers and shakers of our multi-vendor videoconferencing world. 

Meet Henrik Romnes, Developer at Synergy SKY. 

Henrik is one of R&D’s whizz kids (not that he would ever admit to this!). With a background in maths and an understanding beyond his years of all things video-related, he is responsible for making sure your video meetings work. You don’t get black screens when you connect to your meetings? That might very well be Henrik’s doing. We spoke with Henrik about his growth as a developer, as well as challenges and prospects in the videoconferencing industry. 

To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what a typical work day at Synergy SKY looks like? 

I have a bit of an unusual background. Although I took a few courses in IT, my major was in Mathematics. Initially, wasn’t clear in my mind back in the university days that I would become a developer. I wasn't particularly interested in pursuing research or becoming a professor, so I began exploring other potential career paths. At some point, without any obvious trigger, I start considering working as a programmer. To my knowledge, I was the only one in my course who did so. Despite knowing that most of my learning would take place in the workplace, I did my best to acquire the necessary fundamentals, so that I wouldn't be entirely lost when I left the classroom and joined my first employer, which happened to be Synergy SKY. 

Once I started working, I realized that a significant portion of my time would be spent researching and reading about various topics. What I didn't anticipate back then was that this would continue for several years to come. It's an integral part of the job and where much of the fun takes place, to be honest. 

My typical workday is hard to describe, but I think it’s fair to say I spend about as much time learning new technologies that may be necessary for the project I'm involved in as I do writing code. 


How did your background in Mathematics affect your initial experience at Synergy SKY? What were the most obvious benefits and challenges? 

The most crucial aspect to succeed in a workplace like Synergy SKY’s, is, in my opinion, to possess problem-solving abilities and cultivate the mindset necessary to approach new challenges with patience. Although acquiring the skills to recognize patterns proved beneficial, I am uncertain whether I would advise other young developers to follow a similar path. When talking with colleagues I often hear them saying traditional educational routes often fall short in preparing young professionals to create value in the job market at an early stage. I do think that regardless of whether you study Mathematics or Information Technology, the truth is that the bulk of your knowledge will be obtained through self-teaching. 


" I experienced all the phases of shock [when working on CONNECT]: the honeymoon, anxiety, adjustment, and acceptance. I can now say I'm pretty happy with the end result. All is well that ends well. "


The first days after having been thrown into the deep end, without much experience programming,vms(dsd must have been difficult. What programming languages do you need to be proficient in nowadays to do your job?  

My initial assignment at Synergy SKY was to assist in developing our analytics overview dashboard, with a particular focus on the graphs included in it. I remember dedicating a lot of my efforts learning the fundamentals of C# while doing so. Prior to delving into C#, I only possessed a foundational knowledge of how databases work and some familiarity with JavaScript. The primary reason for selecting C# as the programming language was that it was the language most commonly used by my colleagues in the office. It proved to be an excellent starting point, as it has a relatively low learning curve. Plus, once you understand C#, learning other programming languages becomes considerably easier. 

To be honest, I was surprised to discover that one or two years of experience is sufficient to use C# to some extent. I believe that most of the guys in the office would agree with me when I say I consider someone a C# master after three to five years of experience. 


How do you differentiate between tasks that require collaboration and tasks that you can handle independently on a daily basis? 

The majority of my duties require independent thinking. However, that does not mean that I do not consult my colleagues when I have questions or require assistance from the IP admin to deploy specific software, for example. While I do not spearhead any project from start to finish, it is essential that I communicate effectively with individuals involved in related tasks, including those preceding and following mine. 

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At some point in your work at Synergy SKY, you began dedicating more time helping to develop a new way to ensure interoperability between SIP devices and Microsoft Teams meetings. How did it feel to be included in such an important project for the company? 

I experienced all the phases of shock: the honeymoon, anxiety, adjustment, and acceptance. Haha. At first, I was very excited about my role, but then I became apprehensive when I had to assist in handling the provisioning component of the project, which entailed ensuring that meetings were actually connected. Initially, several video points were not receiving any video, which required a great deal of debugging. This can be frustrating since even minor issues can take several weeks to resolve. In the beginning, behaviors may appear to be arbitrarily unpredictable, and we may be unaware of hierarchies. As a result, we must scrutinize potential error messages, read logs...only to sometimes fail to discover any patterns or commonalities. We often end up reviewing many lines of code from start to finish to identify logical errors in our approach, basically. Fortunately, during this period, we dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to optimizing our testing. After a lengthy investigation, I finally comprehended what needed to be done, embraced the challenge and I can now say I’m pretty happy with the end result. All is well that ends well. 


What are some of the complexities of managing large numbers of servers in a cloud environment you have to face nowadays? 

I would say that one of the major challenges we face is managing our fleet of Virtual Machines (VMs) effectively. It is crucial to ensure that we provide a high-quality service while also keeping costs under control. We must avoid having too many meeting systems with low utilization rates, as this would not be cost-effective. One of the key questions we must address is when to remove VMs and how many machines are required at any given time. While it only takes 5-10 minutes to create and install a VM, this can have a significant impact on our productivity. Although we have automated this process, we are constantly seeking ways to optimize the parameters that govern the creation and deletion of VMs. Any mistakes in this process can be costly, so we must be vigilant and constantly work to improve our methods. 

" Our mission is to bridge the technological divide between different platforms, allowing organizations to not have to be concerned with compatibility issues with other participants, both internal and external. "


If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self on his first day in the industry? 

I’m happy with how things turned out, but I guess I would warn to how overwhelming it can be to choose and commit to a programming language. I would suggest going with a versatile one like Python. It can open up many opportunities. It's also important to get hands-on experience by creating your own project. Employers want to see what you're capable of, and having concrete examples of your work can demonstrate your value to their business. 

As someone in the videoconferencing industry, I would also suggest my younger self to get as much of a comprehensive understanding of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and WebRTC as possible. If you cover all of these bases, the sky's the limit! 

I would also recommend playing foosball more than just once or twice to prepare for the seriously intensive tournaments we have in the office now and then! Haha. 


Do you think the skills and knowledge you have acquired in your current job are applicable to other industries, or are they too niche? 

I think there is a big overlap with other video-related industries like streaming video on-demand (SVoD) so if I was to work for, say, Netflix or Amazon Prime, it shouldn’t feel like entirely new world but maybe there’s more to it than I’m aware of. As far as I can tell, the core of what we do is essentially the same: sending audio and video in real-time. Understanding how to effectively stream and manage networks is essential in both industries. However, there are probably unique challenges and knowledge requirements. Each industry may have its own nuances and specific skill sets that are required to succeed. 

I know some people who are often in fear that the path they’re taking in IT can be too narrow and limit their future avenues but I think at the end of the day, the most important skills are transposable. I think the focus should always be on being the best at the project one is currently tackling, regardless how the challenges.  


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Speaking of challenges, what makes it so difficult to have a video conferencing meeting from one video collaboration platform to another? 

Making business video calls with participants using the same video conferencing platform is easy. As you say, the real challenge arises when a participant is unable or unwilling to use the same platform as the others, whether it be Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, StarLeaf, etc. Sometimes, of course this is not just a matter of personal preference, but an organizational or equipment limitation. Companies may have invested in certain equipment and cannot justify switching to a new platform. However, as time passes, compatibility issues tend to accumulate, making it difficult to conduct effective meetings. 

This is where Synergy SKY comes in. Our mission is to bridge the technological divide between different platforms, allowing organizations to not have to be concerned with compatibility issues with other participants, both internal and external. 


The development of the Cisco/Poly to Teams interop was a fantastic step in the direction of simplifying the multi-vendor videoconferencing landscape. Looking back, what part of your contribution to this project are you most proud of having worked on? 

It's hard to pinpoint a specific component that I'm most proud of. My sense of pride comes from looking at the solution as a whole and receiving positive feedback from our customers. The ultimate praise we hear is that they forgot they're even using our solution, which is a testament to our goal of creating a transparent solution. One that just works without unnecessary features.  


How do you see the industry changing in the next few years and how would that affect the way your work? 

I think reaching something closer to full interoperability could be a massive improvement for the users worldwide. It would be great if we could have a meeting room in the US easily communicate with a meeting room in Europe without any technical difficulties regardless of the platform of choice. I wonder whether holograms in real-time communication will become a reality? That sure would be great to witness. 

As exciting as I think the future is for our industry, I think there is also a legitimate fear of monopoly from one single player which could limit the freedom of choice for users. It's challenging to predict what might happen, but I’m confident that the industry will continue to prioritize user experience and provide seamless communication regardless of the platform in vogue. Can’t wait to see what comes next! 

Synergy SKY

Written by Synergy SKY

We develop platform-independent software solutions for all meeting rooms and video conferencing.

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