Blue Jeans Network, a startup that came out of stealth mode this week, is the latest company promising to solve the thorny issue of interoperability between the various video-conferencing offerings on the market.
Blue Jeans officials said the company’s “any(ware) video conferencing” offering will enable people using disparate video collaboration technologies-not only enterprise-focused products like those from Cisco Systems and Polycom, but also more consumer-facing offerings from Skype and Google-communicate with each other without having to worry about new infrastructures or protocols.
Essentially, Blue Jeans takes advantage of the cloud, creating a meeting environment in which visual communications users of any products can engage with anyone other people, regardless of what products they use.
The result is that video collaboration capabilities can now be leveraged by a much wider range of people and businesses, and not just those who can afford and manage expensive and complex technologies, according to Blue Jeans CEO Krish Ramakrishnan.
“Blue Jeans Network is tearing down the walls that exist in video conferencing,” Ramakrishnan said in a June 29 statement. “What was once an elite boardroom technology has moved to the cloud, enabling interoperability and lower price points. We democratize video conferencing, leveling the playing field for the entire global workforce.”
Blue Jeans’ effort comes at a time of heightened awareness around the need for greater interoperability between the increasingly popular video conferencing technologies. Top-tier vendors like Cisco, Polycom-which last month announced it was buying Hewlett-Packard’s video collaboration portfolio, including the Halo telepresence products-and LifeSize Communications all have pushed interoperability, including the wide adoption of standards such as H.323, H.264 and TIP (Telepresence Interoperability Protocol). TIP was introduced by Cisco last year and adopted by a wide range of vendors, including LIfeSize and Polycom.
In addition, a number of smaller companies are pushing technologies designed to increase interoperability. FuzeBox in June unveiled Fuse Telepresence Connect, which works as a gateway for a number of video communications products from Cisco, Polycom and LifeSize. Through is leveraging of various standards and its Fuze Meeting Web conferencing and video collaboration platform, FuzeBox not only can bridge the interoperability gulf between the various technologies, but also expand video conferencing to any computer or mobile device, including Apple’s iPad and tablets running Google’s Android mobile OS.
With its service, Blue Jeans Network gives users access to private, cloud-based online “meeting rooms.” Through the cloud service, users can do everything from schedule and hosting a session to managing their own video conferences. Others who need to join the meeting can do so either by clicking onto a link or dialing a number. Each meeting can hold up to 10 participants, all of whom need only access to the Internet and a video-enabled device, the company said.
All the heavy work-such as the transcoding between the various protocols and standards, security codes, and video streams-is done via the Blue Jeans technology. It can support a variety of standards, including H.323, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and PSTNaudio, and will be adding more protocol support in the future.
Blue Jeans officials say such easy interoperability will open up video collaboration to a wider range of people. They pointed to a Wainhouse Research study that said that in 2010, there 200 million video conferencing services minutes that were used, compared with 80 billion minutes of audio conferencing units. With such offerings as Blue Jeans’ any(ware) video conferencing offering, that could find traction among some currently using audio-only offerings.
The company began field trials of the offering in early 2011, and went public with the trials in April. It no has about 4,000 subscribers in about 500 companies, and has seen about 6,000 meetings.
On the same day that Blue Jeans unveiled its offering, the company also announced a partnership with telecommunications vendor Deutsche Telekom. More details on the partnership will be released later.