Former Tandberg, Cisco Execs Launch New Videoconferencing Venture

A group of former Cisco and Tandberg executives have joined forces to launch Pexip, a new videoconferencing vendor that will sell 100 percent through the channel.

Pexip, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with additional offices in London and New York, made its official debut Wednesday with the launch of Pexip Infinity, a software-based videoconferencing platform.

According to Simen Teigre, Pexip co-founder and CEO, Pexip will look to partner with solution providers both from the traditional video market and the software space to drive sales of the new Infinity solution.

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"We will be going 100 percent through partners or resellers," Teigre told CRN. "We are strongly focused on building trust-based, business-founded relationships, and we believe there is a great opportunity here to support the reseller business with our solution complementing what they already sell, and also to make it easier for them to transition into more recurring, sticky and services-based customer relationships."

Pexip's focus on the channel shouldn't come as a surprise, given the group of executives at its helm. The Pexip team consists of former executives from channel-centric companies Cisco and Tandberg, which Cisco acquired in 2009.

Teigre himself was a vice president at Tandberg until the Cisco acquisition, at which point he became senior director of product management for Cisco and, later, a senior director of engineering.

Teigre is joined by Pexip CTO Håkon Dahle, who most recently acted as vice president and CTO of Cisco's Collaboration Technology group, along with Pexip's Vice President of Engineering Giles Chamberlin, who most recently was software engineering director of telepresence applications at Cisco.

Both Dahle and Chamberlin came to Cisco through the Tandberg acquisition.

"We have a team from Tandberg and Cisco and it's a pretty experienced team, both on the commercial side and the engineering side," Teigre said. "We are combining this experience with our extreme passion, I would say, for the videoconferencing industry and collaboration, in general."

The new Pexip Infinity product, Teigre said, was built using the experience of the Pexip team and is meant to break away from traditional videoconferencing solutions by offering a scalable, software-based platform that can work regardless of the end point or device.

According to Teigre, Infinity can work with any existing install base of business video endpoints, as well as with software-based clients including Microsoft Lync and WebRTC. In addition, Infinity can run on industry-standard x86-based services and requires no custom hardware.

Pexip describes Infinity as a "truly virtualized conferencing platform," meaning it consists of a collection of virtual machines that run on x86-based servers, and it can be managed with the virtualization tools users already have in place. The virtualization element also allows users to increase port capacity on-demand and perform upgrades with zero downtime, according to the company.

What's more, Teigre said Infinity allows users to conserve WAN bandwidth consumption by enabling conference participants to dial in to a local node, rather than one that is centralized or shared by all participants in the group. A group of 20 conference participants can reduce bandwidth consumption by nearly 90 percent using this approach, Teigre said.

There is also a Pexip Infinity app for Apple's iOS, which lets users dial in to conferences from their iPhones or iPads. An Android app is also in the works.

"We think it's a pretty revolutionary product in the industry," Teigre said. "It's the first scalable software platform for fully interoperable video meetings, as well as voice meetings. It supports any collaboration end point or client out there, whether hardware or software, and has some pretty unique advantages."

NEXT: AVI-SPL An Early Pexip Partner

AVI-SPL, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider and one of the country's biggest in the videoconferencing market, has already signed on with Pexip as a partner. Michael Brandofino, executive vice president of Video and Unified Communications at AVI-SPL, said Pexip Infinity stands apart from other videoconferencing solutions on the market today by being able to scale to support a variety of users and devices, without requiring new investments in infrastructure.

"The gap that has been in the industry is that there are obviously great products out there, but there haven't really been products available that can scale with all the devices that are out there today," Brandofino said. "The infrastructure was just too expensive and you couldn't scale it effectively."

But Pexip, Brandofino continued, changes all that.

"Pexip Infinity fills this gap by having a true, multitenant, scalable and software-based platform that will enable us to scale to support any type of end point that is out there today," he said.

In addition to reselling Pexip Infinity, Brandofino said AVI-SPL is using Infinity to power AVI-SPL's new virtual meeting rooms, which also launched Wednesday. These virtual rooms will be offered as a service to AVI-SPL customers, allowing them to tap into a virtual meeting space regardless of the end points they have in place. The service is expected to appeal especially to the SMB market, Brandofino said, where costly video equipment isn't always an option.

"The idea is to enable the everyday user to have this meeting place or this meeting room without having to invest in the infrastructure," Brandofino said.

Pexip's Teigre said his company does have a formal partner program in place, but is being "selective" about its early partners. Still, Pexip is fully committed to driving its growth through the channel.

"Our focus on selling through partners is important, and we think we can offer some really cool opportunities to them," Teigre said.