Feeds

Whatever happened to telepresence? From $2.5m deals to free iPad apps

It's the tech that made Microsoft feel the love for open standards

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Feature Cast your mind back nearly 10 years and high-end videoconferencing with its eye-watering price was being touted as the substitute for the corporate jet. At the time, having remote video streams to view your conference room was a big deal that involved an awful lot of looking after and a continuous investment each month for the privilege along with line leasing.

Cisco El Reg TelePresence

TelePresence Cisco style: some green-screen trickery can make a big impression

Raising the game in 2006, Cisco branded its 1080p videoconferencing offering as TelePresence. In its endeavour to provide a state-of-the-art experience, the product was so mightily expensive - at up to $500k per room - that corporate jet didn’t seem so pricey after all.

But times have changed and anyone with a half-decent smartphone from the last two years or so will have an HD video streaming capability. BYOD has increased the proliferation of this functionality in corporate environments and the holy grail of unified communications actually appears to be manifesting as a reality, rather than a mere sales pitch.

What appears to be driving this integration is a fight for survival an epiphany of sorts. As you’ll see from the remarks below from Cisco, Polycom, Radvision (Avaya) and others, working on playing nice with each other is the only way they can reassure the market to adopt their products and associated infrastructure.

Another key player is Microsoft and, surprisingly for a company with such a long history in proprietary products, its recent introduction of Lync 2013 plays a significant role in this integration. Steve Tassell, Microsoft's Unified Communications Product Manager, has observed a different mood in the industry.

Open office

“I’ve been in UC for the last four years," says Tassell, "and probably the biggest change that I’ve seen is everyone talks about open standards. They have done for a long time but I think we’re just starting to get to the point now where there’s probably now a more ‘genuine’ approach to open standards now than perhaps in the past, because you’ve now got a few key players that have to work together.

"Customers don’t want to have the problem of how to make two things work together. They’ll say, ‘You guys work that out and come to me when you’ve got a solution.’ Then, that’s what we have to do, that’s what we’re doing. So yeah, UC is starting to feel like more of a reality than perhaps a few years ago.”

Indeed, as far as software goes, Microsoft looks as if it could eventually own the Unified Communications space having changed its old habits and embraced HTML5 with Lync 2013 and supporting multiple platforms, but more on its volte face later. What about those boardroom broadcasters? Are there still customers out there for these high-end products. It’s a market that Ian Vickerage, founder of video conferencing distributor Imago, knows very well.

Polycom RealPresence Immersive

Polycom's RealPresence Immersive: everything right down to the chairs is specified in this environment

“A couple of years ago, we saw a lot of big companies coming out saying we want to implement big systems, room systems, plus a lot of mobile users. And then they got the quote. They were expecting $250,000 and got a quote asking for $2.5m. And the really upsetting thing about it was, they didn’t get angry, they just laughed. ‘Hah, is this some kind of a joke?’ But it wasn’t a joke, because there’s this hidden infrastructure cost that’s not being talked about.”

That kind of response from potential clients has galvanised minds. Recent technological developments have delivered alternative approaches to the conventional infrastructure and, in turn, costing models have changed as these innovations demonstrate a competitive edge. This has also helped drive the growth of desktop video in the corporate environment and Vickerage has noticed those potential customers from a couple of years ago are showing interest again, as these systems become more affordable.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.