This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Enterprise Connect 2016: Special conference coverage
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Cloud-based video conferencing gathers steam

Like many other unified communications services, video conferencing is shifting from legacy on-premises technology to a cloud-based model.

Established video conferencing vendors like Cisco, Lifesize and Polycom are still selling customers on infrastructure products, while highlighting the importance of a hybrid model. Newer video conferencing players, including Skype for Business, Zoom, Blue Jeans and StarLeaf, are pushing cloud-based video conferencing services.

"The video conferencing space is in a very interesting transition right now," said Simon Dudley, CEO of Excession Events, a management consulting company based in Austin, Texas. Pure cloud models are changing the way video conferencing is sold and bought, he added.

Enterprise users should consider cloud-based video conferencing models mixed with low-cost, high-quality cameras, Dudley advised. This approach provides users with flexibility, security and substantial cost savings, he said.

In this video, Dudley discusses the benefits of cloud-based video conferencing, the growth of Skype for Business and how users can gauge video conferencing return on investment. Dudley -- who recently attended Enterprise Connect, a major UC conference in Orlando, Fla. -- also shared his thoughts on Slack, the popular and disruptive messaging service that's looking to add voice and video capabilities.

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Transcript - Cloud-based video conferencing gathers steam

Okay. I think many clients who are looking at video conferencing for the first time, they really should be looking for cloud offerings. Video conferencing has always naturally made sense to be a cloud solution, even though technologically it wasn't possible to be a cloud solution until the last few years. So I think the vast majority of businesses should be looking at cloud-based technologies for their infrastructure. Personally, I believe that the days of the big-tin $10,000 to $50,000 meeting room solutions, the endpoints, they're over. You know, there's 50 million meeting rooms globally that don't have video conferencing. This is the market that needs to be addressed now, not the big boardrooms. They're done. 

Sure. I mean one of the advantages, biggest advantages of clouds, is that people don't have to become video conferencing experts. You know, it's interesting that the industry of video conferencing has really catered to, say, the Fortune 1,000 companies for the last 20 years. All of those companies had video conferencing managers. In reality, the vast majority of businesses don't have video conferencing managers. They don't want a video conferencing manager. They just want a service that somebody else runs on their behalf, and I think that's where the mass deployment of video conferencing will finally come. Most of the market has never used a video conference, and that's where we need to go next. 

Skype for Business is taking off like crazy. Many, many corporates are using it and are implementing it now. It's familiar to millions of users. It's already the world's biggest video conferencing player, after all, in the standard Skype version. And so I think Skype for Business is going to make a big difference to this market. It's such a logical play for most IT managers. 

Video conferencing devices have traditionally been very expensive, boardroom level you know, $50,000 for a meeting room solution, $500,000 for infrastructure. The price and the availability has... well, the price has come down. The availability's gone right up. There's that traditional story about, well, video conferencing's about saving money on flights. No, it's not. It never really has been. What it's really about is saving time. Time is the thing you can't get back, and I think video conferencing gives you a much stronger ROI in that sense than it ever has on anything to do with travel costs.

I think it's interesting at this conference that people like Cisco, and Microsoft, and Unify are all talking about their new workflow technologies, things like Spark. And it's interesting that Slack, the biggest player in this market today, is now looking down the barrel of a $5 billion valuation, and I don't know when that's going to happen, but it looks imminent that it will. They are gaining clients like crazy, and they're not at this conference. So I think it's interesting to me that video conferencing is probably, for many clients, going to become part of a workflow, and therefore, for many clients, built into other applications. And I think that will be the big story over the next few years as video conferencing continues to move from a niche product to a mainstream one.

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