SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Dave Michels | February 13, 2012 |

 
   

Smile, It's For You

Smile, It's For You Guess what? Video calling has arrived.

Guess what? Video calling has arrived.

Sometimes the shifts are so obvious that we don't see them. As I write this now, there are four cameras pointing at my desk chair. Video communications, which always seemed more gimmick than useful, is slowly penetrating my work day. It is not uncommon for me to have 2-3 video calls a day.

I don't have many regrets about being dismissive of video over the years. The equipment and bandwidth were expensive, the quality was crappy, interoperability was largely mythical, and it's been around forever as a curiosity--intriguing at best. I've been reluctant to consciously change my perspective, but suddenly I have a different picture.

My Skype calls began to transition more frequently to video. Skype not only offered click to video chat, but a huge user base actually making it possible. On a Skype chat, I am more likely to say hi to others--like a spouse or colleague that may be near during the conversation. Over the past year, new smartphones included front facing cameras. Today, most smartphones, D-SLR cameras, and even point-and-shoot cameras are capable of recording video. Most IM networks also now support video. This makes places like YouTube.com and Vimeo a part of my work related web sites.

I've seen more and more keynotes feature video communications. Not just at events like Enterprise Connect, but elsewhere--such as Dreamforce 11 (CRM?) where video was used in customer support. The Microsoft Lync Launch event brought Bill Gates to NY via interactive video (and, ironically, Andrew Miller, CEO of Polycom in person). More and more, I see the news channels doing interviews over webcams.

Meanwhile, on the enterprise front, video has entered the mainstream conversation--at least on internal calls. The majority of the UC clients today now support desktop video. Cisco and Avaya launched their own video enabled tablets. Several vendors, including Polycom, Radvision, and Siemens delivered video applications for popular tablets.

In the Innovation Showcase, a program spotlighting small companies that takes place at Enterprise Connect, last year we featured one company, Radish Systems, which pushes pictures from a call center or IVR to a smartphone. This year, there were four applications involving video related innovations (winners to be announced on March 1).

The reasons for dismissing video are disappearing. Network pipes are getting fatter and cheaper. The technology is becoming affordable, even pervasive. Attitudes are changing too. Video communications are less intrusive, and increasingly expected. The prices associated with video communications are rapidly dropping--and the technologies are getting easier to use and more interoperable.

Recently, Radvision announced its new room system, the XT-5000. This system is capable of 6 Mbps, supporting 1080p 60 fps video with dual channels--for about $10k. Over the past few years, Radvision quietly transitioned into an end-to-end video vendor. The XT-5000 is part of its Scopia product line which includes desktop endpoints, mobile clients, and telepresence solutions. The XT-5000 can optionally be configured as an MCU supporting up to 9 participants.

Radvision is slashing price/performance metrics while maintaining high-end specifications.The company is an early adopter of scalable video coding (SVC) which sends the picture in layers, minimizing the effects of packet loss. The XT-5000 also includes beam forming microphone technology for better sound (a good video call requires great audio conferencing).

Prior to the XT-5000, Radvision announced its Scopia Video Gateway was approved for video interoperability with Microsoft's Lync and OCS products. The gateway allows Lync and OCS clients to connect with standards-based video conferencing systems--not just Radvision's but most room based solutions. Radvision was recently rumored as a possible acquisition target of Avaya, but nothing has been announced.

Lifesize recently rolled out its new Connections service. LifeSize Connections effectively outsources the infrastructure elements of video conferencing and provides enterprise class infrastructure as a service. Users only need the LifeSize (hard or soft) video endpoints to realize a cloud-based video collaboration platform. The service includes nine-way video/voice/data/text bridging, NAT firewall traversal, and 720p 30 fps quality under a monthly program.

LifeSize Connections runs $30/mo for a desktop client and $100/mo for a meeting room. Lifesize justifies the higher price for the hardware solutions because it assumes those are shared meeting rooms. The plans include the ability to invite guests into a conference via a downloadable client. The Connections service includes IM and presence as well as the ability to share content. There are plenty of desktop-to-desktop video services, but few that include room systems.

If Desktop to Desktop is acceptable--there's always Skype and other consumer video services. They offer the benefit of low pricing--or free--but require all users to be members. Microsoft's new Office 365 service allows users to invite guests to conferences. All clients require local software or at least a browser plugin, but that may be changing this year with WebRTC (also see earlier post).

Two emerging companies are working to eliminate system incompatibilities. Vidtel offers a conversion and bridging service that provides a video number that can be dialed without worrying about compatibilities. Blue Jeans Networks offers a meet-me conferencing bridge, complete with scheduler, that supports multiple systems and types. Both vendors enable communications between a large number of vendors and technologies--including room systems and Skype.

The video ecosystem as a whole is growing rapidly. The selection and availability of cameras, webcams, and lighting accessories are growing---including vendors offering quick backgrounds. Several IP phones (hard and soft) support video including products from Polycom, Grandstream, Panasonic, and Counterpath. We are seeing an increase in video related M&A activity; just last month AVI-SPL acquired Iformata and ClearOne acquired VCON.

It is truly amazing how quickly video communications are becoming commonplace. A video call is very likely in your near term future, considering:

* The explosion of video enabled smartphones and tablets
* The fact that most notebook computers and desktop monitors now include webcams
* The ubiquity of broadband bandwidth
* The emergence of new any-to-any conferencing solutions.
* Several new televisions are equipped with cameras
* Nearly all of the enterprise UC vendors are making desktop video communications a core part of their solution.

Back at the 1964 World’s Fair, we were promised that video conferencing would change our lives. At the time, the world wasn't ready for it--either technologically or culturally. Now it is 2012 and it's time.

Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and independent analyst at TalkingPointz.com





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.