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O.J. Winge, senior vice president for Cisco's TelePresence Technology Group, said Cisco Callway adds to Cisco's vision of offering telepresence to companies of all sizes. He and Clark both made reference to Callway being a third option for acquiring Cisco telepresence, on top of the TelePresence systems and endpoints it already sells to enterprises and the hosted TelePresence it offers through global service providers.
Winge said that Cisco doesn't think Cisco Callway will conflict with existing platforms like WebEx, which use video and are popular among small and midsized business users, but are more about collaboration than immersive video conferencing, he argued.
"What's important is the human relationship building -- the ability to have that in-person type of experience, and that's the clearly differentiating factor," said Winge in an interview with CRN. "I am looking at these tools as very complementary in terms of the ability to use them together."
There's enough room for both, Winge said; WebEx is a data-sharing collaboration platform that can involve video, whereas Callway and the telepresence endpoints offer the immersive conferencing ability where users can see life-size images of their colleagues.
"You'd use the WebEx capability to post questions and have a dialogue, but you wouldn't want that popping up on your telepresence screen and ruin the experience you're having there," he explained. "I believe these technologies will eventually blend into each other and create various use cases."
While the resale of video endpoints is less and less lucrative for VARs as video becomes more ubiquitously deployed technology, Winge said Cisco believes there will continue to be growth in integration and services opportunities for solution providers behind that ubiquity, especially as customers look to bring video into different lines of business. Revenue in Cisco's TelePresence business has been been growing 20 to 25 percent over the past few quarters, Winge said.
"Everyone is always afraid of cannibalization and partners are always saying, what is happening to my revenue stream going forward," Winge said. "I'd tilt the discussion to say that we're only just scratching the surface with the use of telepresence. How many people do you know that are exposed to telepresence on a daily basis? There is an enormous amount of growth in this space."
Winge also acknowledged the increasing role of service providers in video sales to small business and midmarket customers -- and the fear from some solution providers that with the coverage breadth the service providers have, those solution providers will be cut out of the market opportunity.
Cisco sells hosted telepresence through 14 of the major service providers, including AT&T, Verizon, BT and Tata, but according to Winge, the push by service providers into video is also creating partnership opportunities for traditional channel partners, too.
"You do see a lot of VARs that are are actually partnering with these service providers, and you also see a lot of M&A-type activity," Winge said. "We see it as both a threat and an opportunity [for VARs], but the reality of this business is that it's both an extraordinarily global business and an extraordinarily local business."