Cisco Systems Inc. today announced a set of improvements to its video collaboration technology that should not only ease the use of video conferencing in the enterprise, but also give partners more options for packaging and managing value-added services for clients looking for better face-to-face communications in their daily business routines.
The announcement focused on software updates that significantly improve the performance and management of the Santa Clara, Calif., vendor’s video conferencing offerings along with tighter integration of the company’s enterprise TelePresence and cloud-based WebEx collaboration platforms.
First up are software upgrades for TelePresence Server and TelePresence Conductor that boost network intelligence, allowing the system to automatically set bandwidth and performance requirements based on the end-user device. In the past, TelePresence video collaboration sessions set aside enough network resources to support a high-definition, fully immersive TelePresence conference endpoint, even if a participant was accessing the session via standard-definition laptop or mobile device. Now ports, bandwidth and infrastructure will be throttled up or down in real time based on client device with no degradation of the user experience.
With the software improvements, customers can expect a 70-percent gain in system efficiency, Roberto De La Mora, senior director of worldwide IP communication solutions marketing at Cisco tells Channelnomics. “This is about gaining greater use of existing infrastructure,” De La Mora said. “Customers get more out of what they already have invested.”
The changes should allow conference organizers to support many more connections per port and make video collaboration less expensive for most businesses, Cisco officials said.
“One important thing is that this is not just for Cisco client devices,” De La Mora added. “As long as it is a standards-compatible video device, you get the benefit. That will also make it easier and cost effective for businesses to expand video collaboration to many more potential users.”
In addition to fine-tuning efficiency through better network intelligence, Cisco is also folding new capabilities into Medianet Architecture that will allow network administrators to peer into network traffic, gather detailed information about each end-user device and the type of content they are sharing, and set policies that control resource use during video conferences to ensure the session can’t be interrupted by network activity that might degrade the video experience.
These new capabilities hold promise for solution providers, Richard McLeod, senior director of worldwide collaboration channel sales at Cisco tells Channelnomics. “There’s a significant advantage here to partners for value-added services,” McLeod said, adding that optimizing customized policies for a variety of end-user clients can serve as a significant differentiator in the burgeoning video conferencing and collaborations services space.
The decision to implement these changes through software to expand the capabilities of existing hardware is resonating with partners and clients alike.
Andy Dignan, director of collaboration solutions at CDW Corp. in Vernon Hills, Ill., said his company uses video “every day to collaborate with our customers and provide crucial technical support.
“Cisco’s new software allows us to easily and economically scale video to more users. Simply put, we’re able to do more with our current network,” Dignan said. “By using our existing IT investment more efficiently, we can support more meetings from mobile clients, to immersive TelePresence.”
The Cisco collaboration improvements “further enable us to help our customers deploy collaboration and video to their end users,” added Dignan. “This software-based approach extends B2B collaboration opportunities for our customers, allowing them to quickly connect to users outside of their organization in a single meeting.”
Finally, at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando today, Cisco announced expanded integration of its TelePresence and WebEX video collaboration offerings that will allow customers to leverage a single scheduling tool — for example, a browser-based calendar or Microsoft Outlook — to invite, connect and share content with users across platforms both inside and outside of their organizations.
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