VoIP Evolution Analyst Report

SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability

A lot of companies are excited about the market for SMB (small to medium-size business) video conferencing. Both established and new competitors are gearing up for battle. Eight companies – 8x8, Blue Jeans Network, BroadSoft, InFocus, LifeSize, Polycom, Telesphere and Vidtel – made significant announcements in June and July of 2011. The announcements covered everything from new cloud-based video conferencing services and infrastructure to giant touch-screen video conferencing tablets.

While most of the competitors are convinced that the market is about to take flight, actual liftoff is yet to come. Even so, two dominant themes have already emerged among both competitors and observers. One is that cloud solutions are the only ones suitable for SMBs. The second is that, other than taking the cloud approach, providing interoperability among widely varying endpoints is the most certain route to success for providers.

But placing too much emphasis on these two factors is a mistake. First, while the advantages of cloud services for SMBs are impressive, a number of factors complicate any decision to offer or use a cloud-based solution. Second, while pushing interoperability seems an ideal way to win customers, the technical challenges and commercial risks that come with doing so are considerable. In addition, the greater the focus on these two factors, the less there will be on other critical issues.

This new VoIP Evolution report helps alleviate this imbalance. It identifies and describes no fewer than eight key factors that affect the ability of different solutions to provide specific benefits in specific circumstances. The report terms these factors differentiators, and presents them in terms of A-versus-B choices. On one hand, they represent decisions providers must make in developing their solutions. On the other, they are decisions customers must make in selecting their solutions.

The eight key differentiators are:

       •  Enterprise vs. SMB
       •  Premises vs. Cloud
       •  Hardware vs. Software
       •  Equipment vs. Service
       •  Conferencing vs. Calling
       •  Managed vs. OTT
       •  Island vs. Interoperable
       •  Discrete vs. Integrated

The report also details how these differentiation decisions affect one another. In most cases, a choice aimed at achieving one desired result makes it easier or more difficult to achieve desired results from one or more other choices. In addition to the above key differentiators, the report introduces one that will be relevant in the future: the ability to embed video conferencing so deeply in more complex applications and services that it essentially becomes invisible as an application in its own right.

Besides identifying the differentiators and explaining how they will shape the market and dictate competitors' strategies, the report looks at a number of video conferencing solutions. In a section titled 10 Companies to Watch, it examines the offerings of some of the most interesting and dynamic competitors, cataloging their solutions and revealing how they compare and contrast with others'. The 10 companies are: 8x8, Blue Jeans Network, BroadSoft, InFocus, LifeSize, Polycom, Telesphere, TokBox, Vidtel and Vidyo.

The report also compares 16 cloud-based video calling and conferencing offerings of various sorts, showing their similarities and differences in terms of the differentiation choices they represent. The 16 are: 8x8 Virtual Room/Virtual Office; Blue Jeans Network; BroadSoft BroadCloud Video; Cisco WebEx; FuzeBox Fuze Meeting; Google Talk Video Chat; LifeSize Connections; Nefsis; OnSIP; ooVoo; Skype; Telesphere VideoConnect; TokBox OpenTok; Vidtel Connect and Meet Me; ViVu VuRoom; and VSee.

Written in clear, accessible language, this report will prove useful to:

       •  Solution providers interested in refining, clarifying or adjusting positioning of their products and services
       •  Small to medium-size businesses seeking information that will help choose the solution that best fits their needs
       •  Investors looking to understand the dynamics that will shape the market
       •  Marketing and PR specialists wishing to sharpen or refocus their solution's messaging
       •  Consultants looking to better advise clients on positioning and messaging
       •  Analysts and journalists seeking a better understanding of this nascent market

Press coverage of the report is available here.

The Table of Contents can be viewed here.

The 31-page report is available for immediate download at an introductory price of US$299.

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  • Choosing the (Near-) Perfect Cloud Video Conferencing Solution
         This 7-page buyer's guide gives SMBs the information they need to choose the cloud-based video conferencing service that fits their needs. As a for-purchase download priced at $9.99, this document avoids the conflicts of interest of papers and guides that are offered for free, or sponsored by, vendors and service providers. Instead, it provides the kind of objective and authoritative information that would otherwise require assigning a staffer to spend days or weeks searching out and evaluating.

  • SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability
         This 31-page VoIP Evolution report provides an in-depth analysis of a market that has suddenly become very competitive. It identifies and dispels some of the misconceptions that have become part of the conventional wisdom surrounding SMB video conferencing. Chief among these are unrealistic expectations regarding the cloud approach and interoperability.
         The report provides an innovative approach to analysis by illustrating that these issues are just two of many important factors that differentiate solutions from one another. The report surveys 10 Companies to Watch and compares 16 cloud solutions using a unique Differentiation Matrix that clarifies their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Voice Over LTE: More Pitfalls Than Promise for Now
        This 18-page Heavy Reading Insider report, written by Robert Poe, analyzes the prospects for delivery of voice calls over cellular networks using LTE (long-term evolution) 4G wireless technology. Operators are originally looking to use LTE mainly for mobile data services, since a number of technical issues make delivering voice traffic over LTE complicated. The report describes the various options available to operators, and explains why they are likely to move to voice over LTE later rather than sooner. Information about the report is available at Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider.

  • Making HD Voice Happen: Choosing Codecs, Connecting Islands
        This Heavy Reading Insider report by Robert Poe evaluates the impact HD voice will have on voice services providers ranging from traditional telcos to cable MSOs to cellular carriers to VoIP operators. The 20-page report also analyzes the role vendors' and providers' choices of codecs will play in ensuring that HD voice services can be delivered end-to-end, rather than only within individual providers' or enterprises' networks. It also surveys the HD voice efforts of 14 vendors.
        Information about the report is available at Heavy Reading Insider. A column about the report is available at Light Reading.

  • Disruptive VoIP Services: What Carriers Need to Know
        A report by Robert Poe for Heavy Reading, analyzing the innovative VoIP services with the most potential to disrupt the telecom services market over the next three to five years.
        The 57-page report describes the changes VoIP innovation brings to telephony models, practices and concepts. It identifies 17 categories of potentially disruptive VoIP services, and analyzes their potential impact on the market. It also profiles 50 potentially disruptive companies and services.
        Information about the report is available on the Heavy Reading Website. Coverage of the report is available on the Light Reading Website.

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