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Video conferencing services break out of the boardroom

Desktop, cloud and mobility capabilities spur enterprise adoption of video conferencing services. Low entry costs and greater availability help, too.

Editor's note: In this three-part series on video conferencing, we look at some of the ways you can use the cloud...

to deliver enterprise-grade services. Part one explores the factors driving video conferencing adoption. Part two looks at the emergence of new conferencing services, and part three discusses the requirements for cloud-based video conferencing and considers ways to ensure a quality end-user experience.

Since the 1964 World's Fair, when AT&T demonstrated its Picturephone, video conferencing proponents have argued that the age of video conferencing's ubiquitous availability was just around the corner. However, as year after year passed, video conferencing services largely stayed within the confines of the boardroom. Even there, the cost, complexity and limited scope meant many systems went unused.

Now, more than 50 years later -- thanks to unified communications, mobility, cloud and consumerization -- video conferencing is finally fulfilling the original vision.

Unified communications brings widespread availability of video conferencing capabilities to the desktop. According to the Nemertes Research 2014-15 Enterprise Technology Benchmark, which gathered data from approximately 180 companies, by the end of 2014, approximately 43% of companies had extended video conferencing to more than 10% of their desktops; in 2012, only 17% of companies had achieved that.

Today, leading vendors like Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel and ShoreTel offer UC clients that universally support desktop video conferencing. And emerging technologies like WebRTC eliminate the need for a dedicated client, and thereby offer the potential to easily extend desktop video conferencing outside the company. Many vendors also now provide mobile clients, so that individuals can participate in either a group or one-on-one video conference, regardless of location.

The rise of cloud video conferencing removes another large barrier to enterprise adoption. Almost 32% of companies benchmarked by Nemertes either use cloud-based video conferencing services or plan to use them by the end of 2015, while another 16% are evaluating potential deployments.

The rise of video conferencing has significant implications for those responsible for network services.

Cloud video conferencing means companies can save on upfront capital costs by shifting the back-end infrastructure necessary for creating conferences to a service provider's network. Cloud also enables customers to easily scale up or down when necessary and removes the need for dedicated staff to manage video conferencing infrastructures.

Most cloud services easily support extending video conferences to customers, partners or suppliers, who can either use their own existing endpoints or connect via WebRTC-capable browsers. Cloud providers are also reducing the cost endpoints, making it cheaper to offer video conferencing capabilities beyond large meeting rooms to small "huddle" locations.

It's not just greater availability and lower entry costs that are spurring video adoption: The widespread availability of consumer video conferencing services like Apple's FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Skype have set a new expectation that video conferencing capabilities will always be available on any device, from any location. The new generation entering the workforce has always had the ability to video chat with friends and family; they expect that same capability when they're at work, regardless of location.

Interestingly, the growing availability of video conferencing on the desktop and via mobile devices, coupled with rising video use in the consumer world, is benefitting the room system market: 52% of organizations are increasing their room system deployments in 2015; among these, there is an average anticipated growth rate of 32%.

IT leaders interviewed by Nemertes largely cite user demand for video conferencing as the key factor driving this growth, a far cry from years ago when it seemed that video conferencing was being forced on people who weren't familiar with video and didn't see its benefits.

The rise of video conferencing has significant implications for those responsible for network services. They must meet demand for wider availability while exploring options to reduce costs, improve scale and support an ever-growing array of endpoints -- while also achieving network and security requirements to minimize risk.

Using the cloud to deliver enterprise-grade video conferencing

Read the rest of the series:

Implementing cloud-based video conferencing

Requirements for cloud-based video conferencing



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