Citrix Systems is finally bringing high-definition video conferencing capabilities to its GoToMeeting online collaboration offering, a move that will bring it into closer competition with the likes of Cisco Systems and Polycom.
Citrix officials on Aug. 2 announced the general availability of GoToMeeting with HDFaces, which will enable video collaboration for up to six attendees in a GoToMeeting conference, with the only requirements being a PC or Mac, an Internet connection and a Webcam. They touted the technology's ease of use, saying that there was no setup required and that users would only need a click or two to get a meeting up and running.
The company first introduced the technology in October 2010 at its Citrix Synergy show, at the time announcing the beta program for the software.
"GoToMeeting with HDFaces changes the definition of face-to-face meetings from -a place you go' to -a thing you do,'" Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager of the company's Citrix Online Services Division. "That is the essence of our integrated collaboration vision and the promise of our unique HD experience."
Video conferencing has seen growing demand as businesses look to curb costs-in this case, especially travel expenses-while increasing productivity, particularly among an increasingly mobile workforce that is working more and more offsite. A growing number of tech vendors are looking to offer video collaboration as part of a larger communications solution. They also are looking to bring video collaboration to a wider variety of endpoints, from large telepresence screens to laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Cisco officials see video as a key part of a larger collaboration market that could grow to as much as $30 billion over the next few years, and have aggressively expanded their offerings, including through the acquisition last year of telepresence rival Tandberg. Polycom also has pushed to grow its portfolio, recently announcing its intention of buying Hewlett-Packard's visual conferencing business, including the Halo telepresence products.
At the same time, a growing number of other vendors including Logitech's LifeSize Communications business, Vidyo and Alcatel-Lucent, are looking to offer high-quality, HD video collaboration solutions that are less costly than those from the larger companies. That is a key issue among midmarket businesses, who like the idea of video conferencing but have not been able to afford many of the offerings on the market, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Roopam Jain.
"High-definition video conferencing has traditionally been out of the reach of most small and medium businesses, while the need for companies to cut travel costs has increased," Jain said in a statement. "A $10,000 to $30,000 telepresence system is not a fit for a small or medium business looking to cut costs and HDFaces for GoToMeeting provides a high-quality SAAS [software-as-a-service] alternative in the fast growing video conferencing market."
According to Citrix officials, existing GoToMeeting customers and trial users can use HDFaces at no additional costs. HDFaces offers up to six streams, each at a resolution of 640p by 480p. The video conferencing streams are seen on the content screen, and the technology offers share content, adjustable zooming and resizing.