Blue Jeans Network: Interoperability For Skype, Lync and More
A large multipoint control unit (MCU) virtualized in the cloud connects disparate video endpoints.
Blue Jeans Network of Mountain View, CA staked a claim in the videoconferencing turf last week at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference when they announced then demonstrated a videoconference connecting Skype and Lync users to each other along with other video conferencing endpoints including Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize, Google and others.
When I spoke with Stu Aaron, Chief Commercial Officer and Alagu Periyannan, CTO of Blue Jeans Network, they explained to me the business problems that Blue Jeans was founded to solve.
First, they wanted to provide an "any(ware)" videoconferencing solution that would be less complicated, resolve incompatibility issues and be affordable. Blue Jeans had to make it easy to use, make it interoperable and make it affordable. The potential is shown in the slide below. In 2010, audio only conferences accounted for 80B minutes while videoconferences accounted for 200M minutes. Blue Jeans Network’s mission is essentially to convert audio conference users to videoconferences.
I asked Blue Jeans to illustrate their service and Alagu said, it's basically a large multipoint control unit (MCU) virtualized in the cloud. This translates to scalability and performance while maintaining low latency, and not just maintaining the user experience but improving upon it. Blue Jeans has a global presence with 1,500 cities across 150 countries. Since June 2011, they’ve captured 1M minutes of video conferencing in their virtual meeting rooms.
The void in B2B and B2C videoconferencing seems to be the ability to connect with other videoconferencing systems and then Skype, along with bringing in other users unable to connect to corporate videoconferencing systems. Blue Jeans Network demonstrated the capability to connect Lync users with Skype and other popular video conferencing platforms in public for the first time anywhere that I'm aware of. In a few weeks, Blue Jeans plans to roll this functionality into the product and their subscribers will be able to begin using the solution for their meetings. While Blue Jeans has converted just 1% in 4 months, there's a huge potential to federate a lot of existing gear that won't currently communicate with each other.
Some may remember the introduction of AT&T's Picturephone service at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. The history of videoconferencing seems to have accelerated in the past few decades. A key roadblock of videoconferencing of the past wasn’t just complications, incompatibilities and high costs. Instead, it was human fear or rejection of the idea of being seen while talking to someone else or a group of people. Still, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Skype have made it easier for anyone with a desktop, tablet or smartphone to videoconference from their device across the Web, single user/point-to-point. Then, there’s a plethora of web based solutions available from companies such as: iVisit, nefsis, SightSpeed, Vyew, yugma and WebEx.
According to Ovum, videoconferencing spending will reach $1.1bn in 2016, growing with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% from 2011 to 2016. In a report about this next expected market boom, Ian Jacobs, Ovum Principal Analyst said, "Businesses will face a difficult task in deciding on the right vendor in a particularly rapidly changing supplier marketplace." In reading a Wainhouse white paper, addressing why businesses will integrate video into UC as a long-term strategy, it’s easy to understand why Blue Jeans focused in on making it easy to use, interoperable and affordable. Then, according to a GIA report, the global videoconferencing market will reach $14B US by 2017.
With these kinds of growth projections a few things stand out:
* Videoconferencing doesn't carry the same or as much stigma as it did in the past
* There is an opportunity to federate users, consumers and businesses across the many legacy platforms
* Availability, availability, availability—it's on iPhones, iPads, desktops and smartphones
* Social and societal changes are embracing communications technologies
* History teaches and reminds us of business failings of the past--the ability to effectively communicate--video is a valuable tool to communicate better
* Everyone has different learning styles and each learning style can incorporate video or visual presentations, some more or less than others depending upon the presentation
For enterprises with embedded investments in video conferencing rooms, leveraging the Blue Network could provide benefits in:
* A greater reach and enhanced audience participation
* More effective communications by adding video (Visual, Live)
* Passion behind the voice made live with video
As barriers to use videoconferencing continue to erode, it will become more prevalent. In the late '90s, we were riding the marketing theme "get connected" and during the past decade we rode on "more connected." Maybe we are on the edge of riding a new wave of "user experience" and this should be why enterprise incorporates video into their long-term UC strategies, as stated by Wainhouse. With up to 80 percent of communications being non-verbal, videoconferencing stands to offer improvements to the communications process. Then, I think Stu and Alagu are right on target when they said, "Why not just videoconference for the same money or slightly less than what it costs for using audio conferencing?"