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Google Could Bring Video Conferencing To Its Enterprise Apps

Google exec hints at teleconferencing move, potentially generating competition for Polycom, Cisco and Microsoft

Google’s business presence may be set to burgeon following the suggestion that its Hangouts feature on Google+ may be adapted for video conferencing between companies.

In an address at the Goldman Sachs Technology conference in San Francisco, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Google Chrome and Apps, said  that teleconferencing represented a ‘huge opportunity’ for the company.

Rivalling Cisco and Microsoft

Should Google adapt the video chat tool for businesses, they can expect stiff competition from Polycom VidyoPanorama, Microsoft’s Lync software and Cisco’s TelePresence platform. Microsoft, in particular, will pose a challenge following its acquisition and integration of Skype with Lync. Earlier this year it expanded the communications platform by partnering with BT to pilot it as a Cloud-hosted service.

Cisco meanwhile has announced plans to roll out an array of new and upgraded devices dedicated to video collaboration, a platform the company is keen to build upon. “Two years ago, the conversation was: ‘Why video?’” said Guido Jouret, CTO of Cisco’s Emerging Technology Group, speaking to eWEEK. “Now I’m seeing the conversations changing to: ‘How Video?’.”

This sentiment reflects Pichai’s comments during his keynote at the Goldman Sachs conference. Considering the recently revealed statistic that 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube per minute, video conferencing could be a lucrative step in Google’s video services.

“Hangouts is built on the YouTube infrastructure, we use it to serve billions of videos a day,” said Pichai. “Bringing that scale and that stack to the enterprise is a huge opportunity.”

During a Q&A session Pichai said he recognised Microsoft as a key rival in the enterprise space, but claimed Google had been gaining traction with its enterprise products.

Google Apps  has just been adopted by the Roche Healthcare group for 90,000 employees worldwide. Dr Alan Hippe, CFO and CIO of the Roche Group, said: “The integrated and socially-focused way that Google Apps enables collaboration is very compelling, and we expect this to not only bring our company closer together, but give us a strategic advantage.”

Removing barriers to communication and providing mobile access is proving to be an attractive proposition, even though the Apps are not as feature-rich as Microsoft Office.

Last month, the Spanish bank BBVA agreed a deal to roll out Google Apps for Business to its 110,000 employees. Additionally, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced its decision to use Google Apps, dropping physical servers for the cloud.