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VCaaS Today: Multi-Dimensional Confusion

Almost two months ago, I wrote about the future of video conferencing as a service (VCaaS) and the hype surrounding this born-again application, the marketing prestidigitation around "cloud," and the potential for disintermediation as value-in-the-middle disappears. Since then, Wainhouse Research has published a matrix that compares over 80 VCaaS offerings from nearly as many providers. One of the more interesting observations is that there are almost as many VCaaS subscription plans and pricing models as there are VCaaS providers.

Many services have free trial plans; some are structured on a "freemium" model. Subscription models can be based on permutations and combinations of the following:

• $X per user per month, with our without a long-term contract, on a named-user basis
• $X per user per month, with our without a long-term contract, on a simultaneous-user basis
• Minutes per month for a fixed fee
• # of devices per user supported by a license
• $X per month per virtual meeting room (VMR)
• $X per month per MCU port
• $X per VMR per user per month
• $X per minute of usage

So while the overall benefits of VCaaS to any end user (reduced risk, no upfront capital, high scalability, reliability, and interoperability) might be strong selling points, the ability to compare different plans and decide which plan or business model is the right one for any department or enterprise is decidedly compromised.

If you were tasked years ago with trying to figure out which cell phone plan is the right one for you, this dilemma will feel familiar - multiple vendors, multiple features and options, and a bewildering array of subscription plans. Confusion reigns supreme, perhaps by design, but this is certainly not a healthy sign for a struggling, re-emerging service class.

Some Specific Examples of VCaaS Pricing

Applied Global Technologies (AGT)
AGT offers two types of subscription plans. The first is for VMRs. Clients can subscribe to a 10-way meeting room for $89/month or a 20-way meeting room for $119/month. AGT also sells virtual HD MCU ports for $105/month.

The AVI-SPL Virtual Meeting Room service is offered in three different plans.

1) Unlimited port usage: A company subscribes to a number of concurrent ports. Users are provided their own personal VMR codes. If a customer subscribes for 20 ports, he actually receives 20 video ports and 20 audio ports. There is no charge for VMR codes so a company can distribute as many as it wishes. Usage is not capped. So if the company exceeds their subscribed amount, they are provided a 10% buffer before they are charged any overage.

2) Per minute bundles: A company subscribes to a block of minutes that would be consumed by their user base. There is no charge for VMR codes so companies can distribute as many as they wish. There is no difference between a video port and an audio port in this model. When the customer exceeds his subscribed pool of minutes, they are charged on a per-minute-used basis.

3) Per User: A company subscribes to the service based on a per user price. This means all users are issued a VMR code. There is no charge for the number of ports or minutes used. There is a minimum subscription of 100 users.

Blue Jeans Network
Blue Jeans offers three different service plans. All Blue Jeans plans offer unlimited minutes and include support for all devices and platforms supported by the Blue Jeans service. Named Host plans start at $99/user/month, Virtual Ports plans start at $250/port/month, and site-wide deployments, known as Right Size plans start at $990/month. All plans offer additional discounts based on volume and multi-year contracts. Blue Jeans also offers support for up to 100 participants as part of the Feature Services bundle, which includes customization, branding and enhanced network-based recording.

Carousel Simplicity Video service is delivered in two different models. Customers can purchase either an individual VMR with unlimited usage or a bundled minutes plan with unlimited VMRs. In the Unlimited Usage model, the customer pays a monthly fee for a 5, 10 or 25 participant VMR. The bundled minutes plans can be purchased in increments of 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, or 100k minutes and include an unlimited number of 25-participant VMRs. A key differentiator for Carousel is the ability to integrate the VCaaS Service into a comprehensive AV integration and premises-based video conferencing rollout supported by Carousel's managed services organization.

ClearOne's Spontania is available as either a Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) model as well as on-premises. Spontania Standard Rooms are available in packages of 5, 10, 25, and 50 rooms. Each room can connect up to 25 participants. Spontania Pro has packages for 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1,000 or 2,500 registered users. Every room is a shared utility, with all employees of a company having their own room number and unique instant messaging identity. Spontania Video Lecture Classroom can connect up to hundreds of participants into a single classroom. An On-Premises Enterprise Deployment pricing model is for those customers that wish to host the solution within their own data center. Pricing models include both annual licensing contracts or outright purchase.

Continue on to page 2 for more VCaaS offerings

Collaboration Squared
Ubiety offers month-to-month contract terms with no customer financial commitment. Pricing starts with a single host for $99 a month with unlimited usage for a 25-participant VMR and unmetered global phone conferencing. Enterprise pricing starts at 25 hosts with pricing starting at $29 a month per host with unlimited VMRs and matching of hosts to ports. For example, an enterprise license for 100 hosts ($2,900/month) receives 100 hosts with 100 ports and unlimited VMRs.

Easymeeting is sold in annual subscriptions that can be purchased with annual or monthly payments. Subscriptions are based on concurrent users and come with unlimited licenses, unlimited usage, and user training and support. Rooms start at $249/month. Easymeeting services can be paired with the video conferencing endpoint, the Easymeeting TWS with an MSRP of $6,000.

Fuze offers a free service as well as two paid plans. Free Fuze includes HD voice, video and content sharing for up to 25 participants (12 video feeds), unlimited voice over IP, 1GB of cloud storage for uploaded content, and unlimited free phone dial-in for 60 days (U.S.).

Fuze Pro ($8/mo) adds higher capacity meetings and webinars, unlimited phone dial-in, recording, and $40 audio credits for toll-free dial-in, Call Me and international dial-in. Fuze Enterprise ($20/month) adds corporate directory integration, single sign on support, customer branding, an admin console with analytics and more. An interoperability service is available for $1,000 per room/per year.

Global Media Services (Germany)
Videoconference24 offers clients a simple billing model: €29 per month buys a 5-person room with unlimited use; the €39 plan supports 10 people plus telephone support; the €79 plan connects up to 25 people into a meeting. There is no annual commitment. The service can be paid for using PayPal or credit card, as well as standard business invoicing following an account setup process. Billing can be in Euros, Pounds or USD.

Glowpoint provides unlimited VMRs starting at $169 per month. Per-minute plans range from 10 cents to 17 cents per minute. A fully managed VCaaS offering includes minute plans that range from 22 cents to 90 cents per minute, depending on the plan and service options.

The Solutionz Prime Call Meetme service, hosted by Polycom, is accessible through Internet connections as well as being "on net" to Masergy's QOS global network. Three different subscription plans are available:

A) Per named conference host: A company subscribes to block of named host accounts, all of which are issued a VMR code and there are no charges for the number of ports or minutes used. Each VMR can support up to 25 participants. Prices range from $30 to $99 per month.

B) Per minute bundles: A company subscribes to a block of audio or video minutes. There is no charge for VMR codes so companies can distribute as many as they wish. When the customer exceeds their subscribed pool of minutes, they are charged the overage on a per-minute-used basis.

C) Per VMR: A Company subscribes to the service on a per VMR basis. VMRs vary in size (5-10-25 participants), and monthly subscription prices begin at $250.

StarLeaf operates its own global network. StarLeaf provides permanent and scheduled VMRs, with unlimited hosts for $250 per month. The company also offers a QuickMeet service that allows users to escalate from a point-to-point call into a multiparty session for up to 5 participants for $99 per month. StarLeaf offers a hardware endpoint registration and management service starting at $75 per month, per device. StarLeaf's software client can be used by all users and by guests. There are no per user or per minute charges. All conferencing and calling services come with unlimited use.

Video Guidance
MeetingSpace is an unlimited port-based service. Customers can create unlimited coSpaces (VMRs) to use at any time. The customer receives three audio ports for each video port. WorkSpace is a user-based service that provides one user experience across all screens on all devices. WorkSpace accounts include unlimited coSpaces and user devices, 1st-level support, software updates and service SLAs.

Videxio, sold exclusively through channel partners, is structured around VMRs, Personal Video Accounts (PVAs) and Endpoint subscriptions. Videxio's Enterprise User License (EUL) provides users with both an unlimited usage VMR where up to 30 participants can collaborate, and a PVA that supports users with an addressable videoconferencing system (mobile or desktop) with unlimited point-to-point calling. EUL monthly subscription plans are priced per user with entry level plans starting at $99. In addition, Videxio offers a monthly subscription service enabling Cisco and Polycom endpoints to have unlimited usage on the Videxio cloud infrastructure and global QOS network for as low as $129/month.

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