Cloud-based video conferencing represents one of the greatest advances in small to medium-size business communication in years. It gives smaller companies a powerful means of communicating that was formerly available only to large enterprises. But the available services are far from consistently useful. They come with a large variety of approaches, capabilities and features. At the same time, SMBs come in a larger variety of forms and structures than larger companies. Thus, for smaller companies choosing the right cloud video conferencing service to meet one's specific needs can be tricky.
There's no question that video conferencing is well on its way to becoming a routine business tool. It is already common in enterprises, thanks in large part to Cisco's success in pushing high-end telepresence systems into the largest organizations. But it's also growing rapidly among SMBs, largely due to the increasing availability of affordable cloud-based services. And for companies of any size, all signs point to more of the same. Case in point: A new advance by ScienceLogic Inc. has serious potential to accelerate both enterprise and SMB use.
Video conferencing was a lot more interesting to watch in 2011 than was VoIP. It wasn't that nothing happened in VoIP during the year. It was just that a lot more happened in video conferencing. This was especially true in the SMB space. Early summer saw a slew of significant announcements from vendors and providers. These announcements figured prominently in the VoIP Evolution report "SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability."
It's little exaggeration to say that Vidyo was meant for the cloud. The high-profile startup provides video conferencing technology that does away with MCUs, the multipoint control units that combine individual video streams to create multiparty conferences. Instead, Vidyo employs video routing software that runs on standard servers. It's useful for companies that want to video conference but can't afford expensive MCUs. And a recent announcement makes another advantage clear: Vidyo's approach makes it easy to move video conferencing to the cloud.
Cisco's recently introduced cloud TelePresence offering considerably complicates life for small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) shopping for video conferencing solutions. On one hand, it adds an impressive new option to the list of available products. On the other, it increases the number of questions companies must answer before making their purchasing decisions. In short, while the introduction broadens the range of choices for SMBs looking to use video conferencing on a regular basis, it also makes their decision-making process more difficult.