Blue Jeans Offers Cloud-Hosted Video Conferencing

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Blue Jeans is offering customers a cloud-hosted video conferencing solution that does away with pricey MCUs

Blue Jeans Network is touting its cloud-based video conference bridging solution, which it says is designed to enable easy interoperability between systems from Cisco Systems, Polycom, LifeSize Communications and Skype etc.

It also apparently eliminates the need for costly multipoint control units (MCUs).

MCU Killer?

The networking company on 21 March announced new pricing plans that enable businesses to licence a number of concurrent connections – or “virtual ports” – from Blue Jeans, rather than having to rely on hardware-based MCUs to bring more than two people into a video conference.

The offering is a way of letting businesses of all sizes use video conferencing technology from any vendor by reducing the amount they have to pay for buying, maintaining and managing an MCU, according to Blue Jeans CEO Krish Ramakrishnan.

“Our goal was to make video conferencing a practical alternative for businesses of any size,” Ramakrishnan said in a statement. “To do that, we knew we had to make it just as easy, open and affordable as traditional audio-only bridging systems. By combining improved functionality over legacy MCU systems with the economics, ease and security of the cloud, our customers can now use video to improve their business collaboration.”

The economics favour solutions that can do away with MCUs, according to Blue Jeans officials. They said that over five years, the video conference bridging costs with Blue Jeans’ plans can be about 25 percent of what they are with traditional hardware-based MCUs. In addition, with its cloud-based nature, Blue Jeans’ plans to make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to grow their video conferencing capabilities, and customers only pay for what they need, rather than having to overprovision.

Mobile Trend

It’s also important as the numbers and types of devices people are using for video conferencing grow, the officials said. Where once businesses primarily could use specially designed systems, they now are using desktop PCs and notebooks, smartphones, tablets and other devices for video conferencing.

It’s not only that the devices themselves are capable, but a growing number of vendors – including Cisco, Polycom, ShoreTel and Vidyo – are making their solutions available to mobile devices via apps.

It’s also for that reason that interoperability is important, according to officials. With the Blue Jeans bridging offering, businesses can bring in participants who are using a variety of both corporate and consumer devices.

Cloud Video

Other vendors also are bringing their video conferencing capabilities to the cloud. Vidyo in November 2011 rolled out its Virtualised VidyoRouter, an all-software version of its VidyoRouter appliance that can be run in virtual machines. Vidyo officials, like their counterparts at Blue Jeans, are pushing their solution as a lower-cost alternative to offerings from Cisco and Polycom, touting that they, too, have eliminated the need for MCUs.

Businesses are continuing to embrace video conferencing as a way of improving employee productivity and reducing travel expenses, and they are seeing demand grow among their workers. Blue Jeans noted numbers from Wainhouse Research, which said that the video conferencing infrastructure was about a $700 million (£443m)-per-year space.

Analysts with market research firm IDC said this month that the worldwide enterprise video conferencing market grew to about $2.7 billion (£1.7bn) in 2011, and projected revenues would grow to $3.2 billion (£2bn) this year.

“Growth in worldwide enterprise video conferencing and telepresence in 2011 was spurred by well-defined video use cases across a variety of vertical market business segments, as well as the continuing decrease of cultural barriers to video acceptance within organisations,” Rich Costello, senior research analyst for IDC’s Enterprise Communications Infrastructure group, said in a statement when the numbers were released 14 March. “We also expect to see increasing integrations of video and telepresence with unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) applications driving the market during the forecast period.”

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