Blue Jeans Network, the cloud-based video collaboration startup that came out of stealth mode a year ago, is celebrating that anniversary with new Web browser access to its technology and another $25 million in funding.
Blue Jeans is among a growing number of companies looking to offer businesses video conferencing that is simple and significantly less expensive than solutions from larger players like Cisco Systems and Polycom, and offers easy interoperability between the disparate systems on the market.
The result after the first year has been good, according to company officials. Over the past 12 months, Blue Jeans cloud-based service has connected more than 250,000 people from more than 3,000 cities into hundreds of thousands of video conferences.
Some of Blue Jeans customers span a range of business segments, from Facebook, Gawker Media and Match.com to Stanford University and the Sierra Club.
"Our customers have embraced the powerful premise of interoperability, which the Blue Jeans Network is built upon," CEO Krish Ramakrishan said in a statement. "Customer adoption and feedback offer strong validation that we succeeded in our goal to make video meetings as easy, open and affordable as audio."
Interoperability has been a thorny issue in the video collaboration space, particularly over the past few years, as demand for the technology has grown along with the number of solutions on the market, from high-end immersive telepresence offerings to popular consumer-focused solutions like Skype. In addition, vendors are quickly expanding the devices their solutions can run on, from desktop and notebook PCs to smartphones and tablets.
Polycom, AT&T, Verizon and others in October 2011 created the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC) with the goal of improving interoperability by creating services that enable businesses to communicate via video calls on standards-based and proprietary platforms. Since then, other companies, including Microsoft in May and Cisco this month, have joined the OVCC.
There also are a growing number of companies, from Citrix Online to Vidyo, that offer software-based solutions that arent dependent on proprietary hardware and can support disparate endpoints from multiple vendors.
Blue Jeans Network leverages the cloud to create online meeting environments where people can collaborate regardless of the endpoints they use. The solution can support various video and audio protocols, and the bridging capabilities enable businesses to have more than a couple of people join the meeting without relying on expensive hardware-based multipoint control units (MCUs).
Blue Jeans officials on June 27 announced that their service will enable Web browser access, letting people connect to a meeting using only a browserMicrosofts Internet Explorer, Googles Chrome, Apples Safari or Mozillas Firefoxand a Web camera. Through the capability, such users will be able to collaborate with other meeting participants who may be using other systems, such as those from Cisco, Polycom or LifeSize Communications, or other solutions, like Skype or Microsoft Lync.
The browser technology, which is now in beta, expands Blue Jeans addressable market to more than 2.3 billion people, according to officials.
Among other new capabilities are expanded interoperability to include Ciscos Jabber and TelePresence solutions and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), customized log-in pages for users who want to include their own brand in the meeting, improved layout controls, and support for single sign on and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).
The company also announced $25 million in Series C funding, bringing the total amount of money raised by Blue Jeans to $48.5 million. The company will use the money to expand sales, marketing and operations and to improve the technology.