Avaya, Blue Jeans Make Video Conferencing Simpler

At InfoComm, Avaya brought video to its IP Office UC solution, while Blue Jeans showed off the latest version of its cloud video conferencing service.

Avaya and Blue Jeans Network are demonstrating new and enhanced offerings designed to make it easier for businesses to deploy and use video conferencing.

The companies are putting the new capabilities on display this week at the InfoComm 2013 show in Orlando, Fla.

Avaya officials at the show are announcing the company's Video Collaboration Solution for IP Office, which is aimed at small and midsize enterprises (SMEs). The offering is designed to give these smaller companies—which don't always have the same IT budgets and staffs as their larger counterparts—a simpler and more cost-effective way to gain video collaboration capabilities in desktop, mobile and high-definition room-system environments.

The move, announced June 12, brings video to Avaya's IP Office unified communications (UC) offering for SMEs. Pointing to numbers from analysts at IDC, Avaya officials said that 30 percent of midsize companies use some video conferencing tools that go beyond simple Webcams, and that the number of SMEs that use video collaboration technologies could double over the next 12 months.

"By adding high-quality video collaboration capabilities to IP Office, we are raising the bar in terms of what customers should expect from their vendors," Mark Monday, vice president of product management for collaboration platforms at Avaya, said in a statement.

At a time when workers are becoming more mobile and, with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon, are increasingly using smartphones and tablets at work, giving businesses a single solution that can span environments from mobile devices to conference rooms is important, according to Avaya officials. It not only gives workers a better experience and enables them to be more productive, but it also improves customer service and lowers the overall cost of doing business, the officials said.

The Avaya Video Collaboration Solution not only includes direct integration with IP Office, but also a "virtual conference room" for eight participants, who can join the meeting with a single click from any standards-based room system, desktop or mobile device. It also offers free desktop and mobile video clients for PCs, Apple Macs and mobile devices running iOS from Apple and Android from Google.

There also is native SIP/H.323 support, and automatic firewall traversal, making it easy for users to collaborate with people outside their network, according to Avaya officials.

For their part, Blue Jeans officials unveiled the second generation of its video conferencing service that includes a redesigned user interface (UI), improved content-sharing capabilities and better in-meeting controls.

The company's 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).

Two years after launching the service, Blue Jeans officials said the company is seeing strong growth in all facets of the business. The video collaboration market is coming toward what the company is offering, according to co-founder and CEO Krish Ramakrishnan.

"We're in the midst of a transformation in enterprise video conferencing as the cloud and video-enabled mobile devices change where, when and how people collaborate across the globe," Ramakrishnan said in a statement. "In this new world, face-to-face interaction is an absolute requirement, and connecting people with their peers, partners and customers no matter what devices they use is the key to fueling progress and productivity."

Blue Jeans 2.0, announced June 11, offers enhancements for both business users and IT administrators, according to officials. For business users, the improved UI makes it easier to schedule, join and run meetings. Among the enhancements are simplified connection options that require a single click to join most meetings, and integration of high-quality video with an active participant roster, muting and layout controls, and better content-sharing tools.

Users also can schedule directly from Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook, and browser video capabilities that support WebRTC- and non-WebRTC-enabled browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

For IT administrators, improved administration tools include customized branding options, group-level permission controls, single sign-on with Active Directory and SAML—making it easier to bring new employees on board—and APIs that allow for customized user provisioning and integration into internal scheduling systems.

The new Blue Jeans Network features are available immediately, and were on display at InfoComm.