11 Key Videoconferencing and Unified Communications Solutions

Videoconferencing Services and Unified Communications Solutions

Videoconferencing is hot and getting hotter. It has become a key component to many solution providers' unified communications strategies and a technology segment of increasingly greater balance thanks to advances in the technology and greater availability of bandwidth.

Research firm Gartner holds that the videoconferencing services market alone is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2013, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 24 percent between 2008 and 2013. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the more interesting videoconferencing and UC products available -- or soon to be available -- to the channel.

Cisco Cius, EX60, Tele Presence System 500 32-inch

Cisco has spent a lot of time this year building out not only its video portfolio, but also its broader UC portfolio, in line with its integration of Tandberg and a number of new UC and collaboration initiatives. One key release will be Cisco Cius, a 1.5-pound, Android-based tablet device with a front-mounted 720p HD camera, a 7-inch VGA touch-target display, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8 hours of battery life and an accelerometer. Cisco is in field trials with the Cius now and is expected to release it early in the new year. Also new to Cisco's main video portfolio is the Tele- Presence EX60 and the TelePresence System 500 32-inch, respectively "baby brother" versions of the EX90 and TelePresence System 500 37-inch end points it acquired through Tandberg.

Avaya Flare Experience

One of the hottest rumors of the year was that Avaya would come forth with a business tablet -- and it did, more or less. But the tablet, which Avaya is calling the Desktop Video Device, is just one of several end points Avaya is intending for use with Flare Experience, a collaboration dashboard that functions as a UC platform, tying together everything from instant messaging, audio, video and Web conferencing to social networking feeds. The device itself -- one of several October introductions from Avaya -- has an 11.6-inch HD touch-screen display, HD 720p camera, built-in dual microphones, and enablement for SIP, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

LifeSize Bridge 2200

Unveiled in late October, LifeSize's 2200 is the videoconferencing stalwart's first-ever stand-alone videoconferencing bridge, moving it beyond video end points and embedded bridges for what it can offer VARs and customers. The 2200 has a modular design and offers up to 16 ports, providing customers the option to scale -- adding more ports -- to meet the needs of changing infrastructure. That's a big difference from many competing bridges, according to LifeSize, because most bridge solutions require customers to estimate their port needs and buy a fixed number.


Busy is one way to describe Vidyo, the scrappy videoconferencing upstart bent on convincing solution providers that state-of-the-art software is all they need for an A-1 video experience. In early November, the company confirmed that its personal tele presence product will integrate with Adobe Connect 8 via a "personal telepresence" plug-in, expected to be available early in the new year. Among the company's other recent debuts are VidyoCast, a broadcast suite for TV networks and stations to deploy video capabilities for a fraction of what satellite costs, and VidyoHealth, a telemedicine suite that offers a range of health-care-specific, HIPAA-compliant applications and videoconferencing needs.

Polycom H.264 SVC

Polycom has gone to some lengths in the past year to revamp its channel program and also continue the speed and sophistication of its videoconferencing and IP communications releases. Earlier in November, the company said it was developing H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC) technology for future deployments -- made available at no cost to strategic partners that support open standards--and confirmed "universal bridging" capabilities for the current Polycom UC Intelligent Core platform that will enable bridging between emerging protocols such as H.264 SVC, Telepresence Interoperability Protocol, Jingle and others.

Vu TelePresence

Vu in late October unveiled the availability of its Vu TelePresence systems for SMBs, and Vu TelePoints, remote access conference suites available by the hour for use with the Vu videoconferencing products. The company bills its telepresence offering as "about as easy to use as instant messaging" -- designed for low-bandwidth environments and offering audio and video with HD picture quality, multiparty conferencing, desktop screen-sharing and 3,000 hours of video recording. The system includes a master control unit, pan-tilt zoom camera with 3.8 optical zoom, speakers and a microphone, and there are two models available: Vu TelePresence Pro for small offices and remote workers, and Vu TelePresence Premier for larger settings.

RHUB Communications TurboMeeting 4.2

RHUB this summer added additional capabilities to TurboMeeting 4.2, its flagship collaboration platform, which offers Web conferencing, video- and audio-conferencing, remote support and remote access. Among the features are multipoint camera capability for PC and Mac environments, complete Outlook integration, a backup option for communications sessions, Webinar registration and polling features for use with presenting Webinars or other communications, and advanced LDAP directory integration.

XVD EspressoHD

XVD, which makes patented video technology, went live in early November with EspressoHD, which it is positioning as a low-cost, but high-quality HD telepresence alternative. EspressoHD is a hardware appliance, and each one connects to a display monitor, relying on a T1 Internet connection but then able to connect up to five locations globally without an MCU. One thing XVD is touting heavily is the unit's power consumption, which at a draw of 25 watts requires significantly less power than other telepresence products.

Avistar C3 Business Pro Edition

Avistar's C3 is what the company describes as the industry's first all-software videoconferencing architecture, providing scalable call routing, multiparty bridging and advanced bandwidth management. Debuted at Interop New York in October, the C3 platform includes an integrated SIP registrar for deploying communications to tens of thousands of users, an instant messaging interface, a software-based MCU, integration with Citrix- and HP-based thin-client infrastructures, software-embeddable communications applications, a feature through which users can deliver videoconferencing across multiple firewalls without needing a VPN connection, and compatibility with Microsoft Lync for continuous multiparty videoconferencing.

Grandstream GXV3140

Grandstream made a number of recent enhancements to the GXV3140 IP multimedia phone, its flagship videoconferencing product. The phone itself has a 4.3-inch digital color LCD screen and integrated Web browser, and now offers not only integration with Skype but also native Skype embedded, enabling Skype video and voice communications without a PC. Next up for Grandstream is a new IP multimedia phone, the GXV3175, which will add a larger touch screen, integrated Power-over-Ethernet, HD audio and VGA video resolution.

BurstPoint VCP

With about 50 customers at launch, BurstPoint's lead offering is its IP-based Video Communications Platform (VCP), which, using a number of different products and services, converts enterprise video content for seamless management and distribution. The company, which was founded this year and officially emerged from stealth mode in mid-September, is attempting to address a core problem with many video streams: Different streaming technologies, different end points and different video codes aren't always compatible, meaning it's not easy for enterprises to manage, manipulate and stream their video content.