LifeSize Tackles 'One-Size-Too-Big' Issue For Videoconferencing VARs


LifeSize Communications this week launched a videoconferencing platform designed to leverage video infrastructure in virtualized environments and enabling users to pay for LifeSize features such as HD streaming and recording on an as-needed basis.

LifeSize's Universal Video Collaboration (UVC) can be deployed either as a hardware appliance or as software for a virtual machine instance. It includes LifeSize UVC Video Center for streaming and recording; LifeSize UVC Transit Server and Transit Client for firewall/NAT traversal server and firewall/NAT traversal proxy; and UVC Access for gatekeeper/IP communications routing and control. UVC users can access as many of those capabilities as they choose and pay for only the applications they activate.

UVC starts at $3,999 -- the offering itself, not including cameras or monitors -- and LifeSize is offering a 30-day trial package. Prospective users also can use a "try-before-you-buy" feature to preview applications in UVC before they commit to them.

"This is new for our industry because most of the IT guys now want to deploy in virtualization and do a lot of different things with [video] that in other products they can't," said Casey King, LifeSize CTO, in a recent interview with CRN at LifeSize's Austin, Texas, headquarters. "Well, we believe you can do things differently. Partners grew up on us being an endpoint company, and we need to give them a catalyst to make some changes."

UVC is the latest example of LifeSize's expansion beyond the videoconferencing endpoints for which it is best known. In recent years, the company brought to market a number of infrastructure products, and in 2011 it launched LifeSize Connections, a cloud-based HD videoconferencing service aimed at customers wanting HD video but not interested in spending on premise-based videoconferencing endpoints.

Between its existing endpoint lines, the UVC, Connections and the mobile video options it acquired through its pickup of Mirial in summer 2011, LifeSize can now address the full breadth of potential videoconferencing customers, said Michael Helmbrecht, vice president of product marketing. He identified the Mirial acquisition and the launches of Connections and UVC as the three seminal events for LifeSize in the past year.

"Beyond the technology of it, we're making it easier for the partners to sell it and have a choice on the broadest range of devices," he said. "For a particular type of customer, they can resell [video] from our cloud or host it in theirs with the same discount structure as if they're reselling hardware."

Randy Marcotte, co-founder and director of sales for Perfect Video Conferencing, a video reseller and managed services solution provider, said that flexibility in the types of video deployments he can offer -- whether box, service or modular piece-by-piece models -- is what makes LifeSize attractive.

"Their Video Center product was a game-changing event, and now that they've got this modular video center that I can go bigger or smaller with, we've solved a problem," Marcotte said. "What we've suffered from is a lot of one-size-too-big for a customer that needs only a few video streams."

LifeSize has seen a number of executive changes in the past year as its growth -- and that of its parent company, Logitech -- has slowed. LifeSize named a new CEO, Colin Buechler, in mid-January, and a new channel chief, Sandy Hill, in November.

Marcotte said he isn’t too concerned about the executive changes.

"They have really smart people working in the channel that know how to manage a program, and what they do well is a lot of consistency in that channel and the message to us," he said. "The direction of the company has been well-focused. Craig [Malloy, LifeSize’s former CEO] is an innovative kind of guy so that was a surprise, but Colin's brilliant, too, and has a global perspective. That skill set will solve problems around building a global deployment program and looking at large multinational customers."

Logitech, which acquired LifeSize in 2009, is itself still looking for a permanent CEO following the resignation of Gerald Quindlen last July. Logitech in January issued its fourth profit warning in 12 months, saying it now expects sales of $2.3 billion instead of $2.4 billion for the fiscal year.