Cisco's TelePresence, the first high-definition virtual meeting system to transmit full-size, high-quality video images capable of conveying body language and excellent sound quality, has been moving right along on the market pathway since its introduction in 2006.
As an alternative to increasingly expensive personal travel, the idea resonated immediately in large enterprises around the world, with hundreds of systems being sold in the first year. Now it's on a fast track to become a $5 billion business by 2015, according to industry analysts.
At first, TelePresence was deployed only in specially designed and equipped teleconference rooms within enterprises-mostly larger ones that had both the extra space and financial bandwidth to handle it.
Later, Cisco started marketing scaled-down versions for smaller businesses and even home office use. Those, too, have gained attention as useful business tools. But the fact remains that they are a major capital expense.
Now another major step has taken place: TelePresence can now be utilized as a cloud service. Finally, the ability to virtually "sit across the table" with someone on another continent and talk business face-to-virtual face is coming within the reach of moderate-budget organizations.
Now Available as an On-Demand Service
IT integrator and cloud service provider CSC on March 28 launched its TelePresence as a Service offering, an end-to-end managed videoconferencing package that serves up TelePresence's product suite without the need for users to purchase any equipment. Cameras, lighting and all the connecting software come as part of the service in a rental-type arrangement.
"CSC's TaaS provides TelePresence packages at fixed monthly costs, and has the capability to integrate disparate technology platforms into one, simplified user interface," Nimesh Shah, CSC's Global Portfolio Executive for Managed Network Services, told eWEEK.
"We're launching this on a per-room model with a monthly recurring charge. This includes the equipment we place in the room as well as the service itself. We've changed the model for this from a capital expense model to an opex [operating expense] model."
TelePresence was designed to create a meeting experience that is as close as possible to a live, in-person meeting. The system controls all aspects of the virtual meeting-down to the physical conference table, lighting, room design, and audio and video inputs-to provide a high-quality experience.
As a result, TelePresence-with its oversize monitor screens and high-definition video/audio-is very close to the experience of being only a few feet away from the person or persons with whom one is negotiating.
As any experienced business person knows, the determination of body language and voice tone is very important in completing a successful negotiation or other business transaction, and these details are enabled through the system.
CSC also announced on March 28 that it has earned Cisco's TelePresence Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) status in the United States, the United Kingdom and in Australia. European and Asian operations are in the pipeline.
The certification validates TaaS, the newest addition to CSC's existing suite of unified communications and collaboration services, as proven and ready for government and commercial organizations to deploy today, Shah said.
"CSC's TelePresence as a Service is unique because of CSC's capability to seamlessly integrate technologies like calendar functions, ERP and CRM software, and communications services that currently exist within the client's enterprise," Shah said.
Shah said pricing for the CSC TelePresence as a Service is being determined and information will be made available on a consultation basis.
All three of CSC's TaaS packages include 24/7 remote operations support, planning and design services, ongoing endpoint equipment maintenance, ongoing endpoint monitoring and management, and professional services to install endpoints.
CSC is headquartered in Falls Church, Va. It employs about 93,000 people and reported revenue of $16.2 billion for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2010.