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Microsoft Aims To Improve Teams Streaming With Peer5 Acquisition

Collaboration app Teams has “become the primary communications and collaboration platform for many of our customers,” leading to customer demand for large-scale live video streaming through the app for meetings and virtual events, according to Nicole Herskowitz, general manager of Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 Platform.

Microsoft has acquired Peer5, a company that provides live video streaming, to deliver “secure, high-quality, large-scale live video streaming with optimized network performance” in its collaboration app Teams. Microsoft has also promised to continue to support enterprise content delivery network solutions from Microsoft-certified partners along with Peer5.

The tech giant announced the purchase in a blog post Tuesday authored by Nicole Herskowitz, general manager of Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 Platform, which includes Teams.

Herskowitz said that Teams has “become the primary communications and collaboration platform for many of our customers,” leading to customer demand for large-scale live video streaming through the app for meetings and virtual events. Customers have also sought enterprise content delivery networks (eCDN) to help avoid negative effects of video streaming on limited corporate network downlink bandwidth.

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The blog post and an accompanying statement by Peer5 do not discuss financial terms of the deal. Microsoft representatives did not respond to further questions from CRN.

During Microsoft’s quarterly earnings call in July, CEO Satya Nadella characterized Teams as “the new front end” for meetings, chats, calls and automating business processes. Microsoft has nearly 80 million monthly active Teams phone users, with total calls passing a billion in a single month during the quarter, he said. And 124 organizations have more than 100,000 Teams users, while nearly 3,000 organizations have 10,000 users.

“Teams usage has never been higher,” Nadella said. “We are nearing 250 million monthly active users as people use teams each day to communicate, collaborate and co-author content across work, life and learning.”

Peer5, which was founded in 2012 and has offices in Tel Aviv and Palo Alto, Calif., offers an eCDN service based on Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) that runs in browsers, optimizing bandwidth use and helping mitigate impact to network and line of business applications, according to the Microsoft statement.

Phil Walker, CEO of Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Microsoft partner Network Solutions Provider -- a member of CRN’s 2021 Tech Elite 250 -- told CRN in an interview that the acquisition should help Teams compete against videoconferencing service Zoom, which has a reputation for accommodating large-sized meetings. “This is a good acquisition,” he said.

Walker also praised Microsoft’s efforts to further integrate Teams with its other products and services. “I want to see more integrations, more collaborations, more cross-channel integrations,” he said.

Peer5’s mesh networks self-balance and automatically scale as the number of viewers in meetings increases. Users won’t need additional installation on user endpoints or changes to physical network infrastructure, according to the Microsoft statement.

“The Peer5 solution will allow Microsoft to provide a first-party offering to help customers streamline (the) purchase process and customer support, improving their enterprise IT management experience,” Herskowitz said.

In Peer5’s own blog post on the acquisition, co-founder and CEO Hadar Weiss said the company’s services have “powered large live events (some with as many as 2 million concurrent users) and our product has been used over the years by more than 1 billion users.”

He said that multiple employees streaming events at once — and even multiple employees watching the same video sent over email — are ways to congest a company’s network, something Peer5’s services can help alleviate.

“We push the envelope even further by adding logic and mechanisms that adjust to any device and any network without requiring any custom setup from the customer side,” he said.

According to Peer5’s website, the company is a Google partner and “the only P2P solution that integrates directly with Google Meet Live Stream to boost performance within corporate networks.”

The company has raised more than $3 million in funding to date and has 22 employees, according to Crunchbase and LinkedIn.

Microsoft has been on a buying spree this year to help boost its technological capabilities. Some of the acquisitions announced in 2021 include the $19.7 billion purchase of voice recognition and artificial intelligence standout Nuance, the purchase of data analysis company Suplari to improve Dynamics 365, the purchase of RiskIQ and CloudKnox Security to bolster security offerings, and the purchase of rapid prototyping company The Marsden Group to enhance industry-focused offerings based on Microsoft cloud, edge and AI products.

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