Google Expands Video Offerings To Business Customers

Google took another step Wednesday toward wooing business customers to its cloud by adding the popular instant messaging and video conferencing service, Hangouts, to its Google Apps for Business suite of SaaS products.

The search engine giant simultaneously revealed it will soon introduce new features for its Chromebox for Meetings video conferencing system to expand its display and control functionality.

’We’ve been waiting for this for a really long time,’ said Tony Safoian, CEO of Los Angeles-based Google channel partner SADA systems.

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’The promise of Hangouts for me has always been transforming how people think about conference and conducting meetings,’ he told CRN.

One important modification is that the business-grade version of Hangouts drops the requirement that users have a Google+ account to access the service. That allows the video conferencing capabilities to be used with others from outside a Google-affiliated organization, Safoian said.

’A lot of our customers who have Apps use Hangouts all the time, but only internally. It’s super easy to use internally and works well. Externally, it’s a pain. Now that they got rid of the Google+ requirement, anyone can jump on it,’ he explained.

The business version of Hangouts will enable up to 15 point-to-point interactions over phones, tablets or personal computers

’This is great news for our customers,’ said Allen Falcon, CEO of Massachusetts-based solution provider Cumulus Global.

By adding Hangouts to the core services covered by the Google Apps for Business Terms and Service, Google confirmed that Hangouts are secure, fully supported and covered by the Google Apps 99.9 percent uptime SLA, Falcon told CRN.

’This is added confirmation that businesses can rely on Hangouts and Chromebox for Meetings for video conferencing and web meeting services,’ he said.

Cumulus called attention to one part of Google’s announcement that has received less attention: that Google’s partners, such as Blue Jeans Network, are offering interconnections between Hangouts and traditional, in-house, video conferencing systems.

’This is great for companies that want or need to video conference with other firms that have Tanberg, Cisco and other systems in place. It makes Hangouts and Chromebox for Meetings a more ubiquitous solution for internal and external video conferences,’ Cumulus said.