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8x8 has replaced its old online meetings product with a new one that offers more features and is easier to use. The platform is available only to businesses subscribed to 8x8's unified communications suite, but the company said it may make the service available as a stand-alone app in the future.
The old 8X8 video conferencing product -- built with a mix of technologies, including some from Vidyo -- didn't cut it for many customers, executives said. The company used the Jitsi open source video conferencing software that it acquired from Atlassian last year to build the new product, called 8x8 Video Meetings.
"The feedback that we heard from our customers, and where we saw the market going, really necessitated that we … swap out our whole meetings product for a new and modern video communications solution," said Meghan Keough, 8x8's vice president of marketing.
The new platform lets guests join meetings without having to install a plug-in or download an app. 8x8 follows the lead of Cisco, BlueJeans, Highfive and others in embracing WebRTC, the latest standard for internet-based communications.
8x8 Video Meetings also gives users their own virtual meeting rooms and lets them live-stream meetings to YouTube. Other new features include more detailed analytics and the ability to remotely control a user's desktop while in a meeting, which could be useful for IT troubleshooting.
"I like what 8x8 has done," said Wayne Kurtzman, analyst at IDC. "They basically updated the system, made it more usable in more places in an enterprise and are not charging more for it."
8x8 also rolled out an early access program for software to manage video conferencing hardware in conference rooms. The product offers a way to connect third-party video cameras from vendors like Logitech and Crestron (powered by minicomputers by Mac and Intel) to 8x8's video services.
In July, Gartner named 8x8 one of four leaders in the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market, alongside Microsoft, Cisco and RingCentral. But the research firm previously cautioned that 8x8 offered an unintuitive video conferencing platform with a limited set of features.
8x8 Video Meetings is part of the vendor's X Series offering, which combines calling, messaging, meetings and contact center.
The company has attempted to differentiate itself from competitors by its own technology, rather than relying on partners. RingCentral, nearly twice as large as 8x8 by revenue, relies on Zoom for video calling and Nice inContact for contact center.
"8x8 is trying to be a complete one-cloud solution for communication and collaboration," Kurtzman said.