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."
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Serious excitement surrounds the SMB (small to medium-size business) video conferencing space these days. In June and July alone, no fewer than eight companies – 8x8, Blue Jeans Network, BroadSoft, InFocus, LifeSize, Polycom, Telesphere and Vidtel – announced new hardware, services, tie-ups or some combination thereof. All of the announcements represented significant investments of time, effort and resources. And together, they indicated a widespread optimism that the market is about to take off.
Even in pre-takeoff mode, though, the market has already spawned a hefty body of conventional wisdom. Most of it takes the form of ardent convictions surrounding clouds and interoperability. One of these is the belief that cloud solutions are the ideal way to meet almost every SMB video conferencing need. A related one is faith that providing interoperability is the surest route to success for cloud providers. A new VoIP Evolution report, SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability, both explains why it's necessary to get beyond such conventional wisdom, and provides a method for doing so.
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The recent unconfirmed report that Cisco was interested in buying Skype got a lot of attention. Many analysts and pundits pronounced the idea a good one. They pontificated about how Skype service could complement Cisco products and services. Some focused on video communication as well as voice synergies. Few, however, mentioned the fundamental long-term threat Skype poses to Cisco's video conferencing business – and not just Skype, but any Internet-based video communication service. That threat will only grow as time passes. Acquiring Skype could help Cisco cope with the threat.
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The coming explosion of video conferencing will bring enterprises a lot of benefits. Employees will communicate better with each other, and eventually with employees of other enterprises. Savings on travel costs will be substantial. But the trend will also bring a lot of headaches. Chief among these will be an explosion of bandwidth needed to carry all the video traffic. A new effort by Polycom aims to halve the bandwidth video conferencing will require. Coincidentally, the company is introducing a more modestly priced immersive telepresence system as well.
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Polycom has added several new desk phones to its product portfolio. One brings SIP-based HD voice capability for under $200. A second works specifically with Microsoft OCS 2007. And a third provides compatibility with both video conferencing and unified communications platforms.
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Cutting travel expenses by video conferencing is becoming a universal practice. It's particularly useful when the travel being avoided is, say, trans-Pacific. But developing the underlying technology necessary to make it work can be challenging. Video processing software has to deal with a lot of challenges. The most vexing of these may be the different bandwidth levels connecting conference participants. A newly announced deal in Japan by Global IP Solutions (GIPS) shows that the solutions can be universal as well.
Continue reading "Japanese Web Conferencing Provider ANET Employs GIPS Video ConferenceEngine" »