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Glowpoint Demonstrates Business to Business Video Conferencing

My last posting was about how BT is doing business to business (B2B) video conferencing using a centralized SBC and Cisco video bridge. Glowpoint is taking a different approach, leveraging their legacy of supporting IP-based video for multiple businesses over many years.Glowpoint has an international video conferencing IP exchange orginally designed to connect to their customers. They have points of presence (PoPs) in North America, Europe and in Australia. Enterprises can connect to the Glowpoint network in a number of different ways, depending on their needs.

Enterprises who are small or who only want to connect a few video conferencing endpoints use the "overlay" approach, which just means they run dedicated circuits from the enterprise location to one of the Glowpoint PoPs. Endpoints connected to this circuit are given addresses on the Glowpoint network, and the endpoints then register to a centralized gatekeeper run by Glowpoint.

A larger enterprise that has its own IP-based video deployment can connect using the "enterprise connect." This method finds a telecommunications facility where the WAN service provider for the enterprise and the Glowpoint exchange are both located. A session border controller (SBC) is installed in a Glowpoint rack in that facility, and a connection between the enterprise VPN and the Glowpoint exchange is established. Connecting within a telecom facility is often much less expensive than using a dedicated link.

The third methodology is to connect to the exchange via the Internet. While this method does not solve the problem of QoS or guaranteed bandwidth, it does provide the same simple dialing approach and call security services provided to directly-connected customers. The Internet connection is especially useful for an enterprise that has a wide range of partners or customers with whom they want to connect. The bigger partners will choose the high quality of a direct connection, while the smaller customers can get a much lower cost connection but still be a part of the integrated ecosystem by using the Internet connection approach.

Glowpoint is supporting H.323 video conferencing endpoints, not just Cisco Telepresence like many of the other announced B2B solutions. Glowpoint addresses network security by using a session border controller between the enterprise network and the exchange. Glowpoint also has call security, which is managed through a set of policies that each enterprise creates indicating which other parties are allowed to be called or call into their video endpoints. This allows companies to have an isolated group within the larger Glowpoint exchange community or to open up their access for wider calling.

Glowpoint has also separated their managed bridging service from the exchange offering. Using the Glowpoint exchange, many B2B calls will be placed point-to-point between different businesses without using a Glowpoint bridge. Glowpoint encourages other managed service providers to also use the exchange infrastructure, so calls may be placed between multiple businesses and a third party bridging service where Glowpoint is only providing the interconnect.


Here is what I think:

The long-term goal for B2B video services is to allow interconnection between any video endpoint and any other video endpoint. We have a long way to go before we get there. But this idea of separating the interconnect service from the application-level functions like bridging makes sense to me because it means that more service providers can find the right balance of cooperation and competition that can help us make forward progress. Today we are developing isolated islands of B2B interoperability. At some point we have to connect those islands and make it all work together.