Video conferencing is emerging as an important form of communication for the enterprise by providing cost savings benefits and ensuring business continuity. There are many video conferencing service providers and vendors on the market touting different offerings and connectivity options, but video conferencing interoperability will be the key differentiator and necessity for the enterprise.
Video conferencing has historically been a challenge, as different enterprises try to bring their own video hardware and hosting platforms to the meeting. Users frequently experience not only connectivity issues in trying to connect to the other party, but also problems associated with their location or device -- whether they are attempting to join the meeting from a telepresence room, desktop, or a video-enabled mobile device.
Video conferencing interoperability is an emerging requirement as business-to-business (B2B) video has taken center stage, noted Roopam Jain, industry director of unified communications and collaboration at Frost & Sullivan Inc. "[Users] are looking to maximize their return on investment [ROI] by making video extensible to an increasingly diverse base of endpoints and clients regardless of network," she said.
Large enterprises have traditionally used video conferencing for internal communications, but have also begun to realize its potential for communicating externally, Jain noted. "The true potential of video lies in extending it to a larger network of users," she said.
Vendors have begun to heed the video-conferencing interoperability call, and this trend will only continue. "We have seen significant developments on this front already, and there is more to come. Service providers will play a key role in enabling any-to-any video communications," Jain said.
Vendors, service providers must consider video conferencing interoperability
Demand for video conferencing interoperability is forcing vendors and service providers to partner and develop services that allow enterprises to communicate outside their own networks, noted Andrew Davis, senior partner and analyst for Wainhouse Research.
InterCall, a conferencing and collaboration service-provider subsidiary of West Corporation, recently announced a partnership with cloud-based conferencing provider Blue Jeans Network that will allow enterprises to connect to video conferencing meetings via the cloud regardless of on-premises video conferencing equipment, said Dennis Collins, director of marketing, conferencing, and collaboration for InterCall.
"[Blue Jeans] uses the accessibility of the cloud to get over the typical endpoint-to-endpoint proprietary systems that have been an obstacle to video conferencing becoming more mainstream in the enterprise," Collins said.
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Standards and considerations for video conferencing interoperability
Cloud-based video conferencing services are emerging as an attractive option for enterprises, Jain noted. "These services will enable true B2B services, which are expected to create greater penetration of video conferencing among SMBs as well as large enterprises," she said.
Video conferencing interoperability, like cloud-based services, can help spur video conferencing growth by taking the vendor or hosting platform out of the equation, noted Sara Roberton, product manager of video solutions for InterCall. "Video can be complex, and having a cloud-based solution where everyone can connect from their device over the public Internet makes it a lot easier, and a lot more like the familiar audio conferencing," said Roberton.
Blue Jeans brings to the table a unique range of interoperability for the enterprise, Wainhouse's Davis said. "Through this offering, users can call in to a meeting from not only a professional video conferencing system, such as a Polycom or Cisco is offering, but even from Skype or a desk phone. The service allows users to join a meeting from a whole variety of video protocols."
The partnership between InterCall and Blue Jeans is a significant move, and one that Jain expects other vendors and service providers to emulate.
"[The move toward interoperability] validates the growing need for any-to-any video conferencing services in the market, where users can use video for an expanding array of B2B applications and are not restricted by the network or device and can connect to anyone any time."
Video conferencing interoperability: Not just an enterprise requirement
Video conferencing interoperability isn't just on the large enterprise wish list, Jain noted. "It is also critical for SMBs, which are heavy users of collaboration with partners, customers, and suppliers and have a greater need to extend video conferencing to their external value chain," she said.
As interoperability becomes a prerequisite for many companies -- both large and small -- "[vendors] will focus on providing interoperability with other vendors' solutions, and service providers are introducing services that can connect their customers to users on other providers' networks," Jain said, noting that users' demand for mixed environments is increasing.
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