Blue Jeans: From Zero To Big Share Of Videoconferencing Services Market

Blue Jeans Network celebrated its two-year anniversary this week with the launch of Blue Jeans 2.0, the first major refresh of its cloud-based meeting room service since the buzzed-about startup burst onto the scene in June 2011.

In addition to delivering a slew of interface and administrative enhancements, Blue Jeans 2.0 is a testament to the momentum Blue Jeans has gained in the market over the past two years, said Stu Aaron, Blue Jeans' chief commercial officer.

"It's really been a tremendous two years of growth for us," Aaron told CRN. "And mostly at the expense of the traditional videoconferencing incumbents like Cisco and Polycom. Not at their endpoint business, because we actually help that business, but their infrastructure business or their bridge or [multipoint control unit] MCU business."

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The value proposition behind Blue Jeans' service, as Aaron puts it, is that it's "built from the cloud up," meaning it's consumed as a hosted service and allows users to host, schedule and manage their own videoconferences via a Web interface. The service is also interoperable, so it can work across different video and audio protocols, bridging the gap between systems such as Cisco TelePresence and Skype.

Aaron declined to provide specific sales figures, but described the past two years as "blockbuster" for Blue Jeans. In its quest to upend traditional hardware-based infrastructures, Blue Jeans estimates it eliminated the need for $100 million worth of MCU sales in the past year alone.

Aaron also said Blue Jeans today commands a significant piece of the overall videoconferencing services market, judging by the minutes its service has been used.

"When we entered the videoconferencing services market, it was sized at 200 million minutes a year as an annual run rate, of which we had zero," Aaron said. "I'm pleased to say that today we are at somewhere between a 60-million- and 70-million-minute-a-year run rate and growing daily, which puts us somewhere between a quarter and a third of the videoconferencing services market."

As Blue Jeans' business has grown, so has its channel. Aaron said the company now has somewhere between 60 and 70 global partners, which it breaks out into three categories: traditional A/V integration VARs that can wrap Blue Jeans' service around endpoint sales, managed services providers that work Blue Jeans into their broader services portfolios, and conferencing providers that present Blue Jeans as an audioconferencing alternative and which Blue Jeans describes as OEM-type relationships.

"We take the channel very seriously," Aaron said. "I know that some of our competitors have spread some FUD about us having a direct sales force and not being a channel company and that's really, I think, misrepresented."

Aaron noted that Blue Jeans has a dedicated, internal channel sales team that is compensated based on the business it drives through partners.

Brad Johnston, COO of Solutionz Conferencing, a 12-year-old solution provider and Blue Jeans partner based in Brentwood, Calif., said he considers Blue Jeans a trailblazer in the cloud-based video services space.

"In two years, Blue Jeans Network has been a 'market-maker' for cloud video services. They have set the bar relative to innovation, ease of use and customer experience," Johnston wrote in an email to CRN. "From a partner perspective, they are easy to do business with, responsive and aligned with their channels."

NEXT: Introducing Blue Jeans 2.0

Aaron said Blue Jeans has taken all the feedback it has heard from customers over the past two years to create Blue Jeans 2.0, the next-generation version of its videoconferencing service, available starting this week.

The enhancements in Blue Jeans 2.0 are targeted at both business users and administrators. For business users, Aaron said Blue Jeans completely revamped the user interface in version 2.0 with the aim of making it easier to navigate and manage meetings.

Among these enhancements are one-click access to join meetings, new in-meeting controls that let users manage sound, layout and participant rosters, and the ability to schedule Blue Jeans meetings directly from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.

Blue Jeans 2.0 also includes the ability to set group-level permission controls to define which specific endpoints are available to users.

"The IT administrator can set default configurations for their users," Aaron explained. "For instance, a particular company might say, 'I don't want our users to use Skype. I don't even want to give them the option, I just want to take it out of the menu so it's just not even an option when they connect to Blue Jeans.' "

The updated service also provides single sign-on with Active Directory and SAML, streamlining the process by which administrators on-board new users. Blue Jeans 2.0 also includes APIs for customized user provisioning and integration into a user's internal scheduling systems.

Despite the growth it has seen over the past two years, Blue Jeans has no plans to sit back and relax any time soon, Aaron said.

"Obviously, we want to pause and pat ourselves on the back for a minute and bask in the success, but we also know that that only lasts about a minute before you need to focus on the future," Aaron said.

Specifically, Blue Jeans hopes to continue growing its service and to recruit more partners around the globe, particularly in Europe and Asia, Aaron said.