Avaya's Radvision Unit, LifeSize Unveil Video Conferencing Solutions

Radvision is unveiling a hybrid hardware-software Scopia Elite 6000 MCU, while LifeSize aims to make video easier with its Icon Series system.

Radvision and LifeSize Communications are rolling out solutions designed to simplify the use of video conferencing, reduce its cost and significantly improve the user experience.

Radvision, which networking and unified communications (UC) vendor Avaya bought last year, is introducing a hybrid multipoint control unit (MCU) that officials said will bring high-quality video collaboration capabilities to businesses of any size, while driving down the costs and power consumption of more traditional MCUs from rivals like Cisco and Polycom.

At the same time, Radvision officials also are unveiling a package of network readiness and monitoring tools to enable businesses to ensure that their infrastructures are ready for video and that they can manage it. Both the Scopia Elite 6000 Series MCU and the eVident package of tools were announced Jan. 29 at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2013 event in Amsterdam.

Also on Jan. 29, LifeSize officials announced their new Icon Series video system, which is designed to make it easier and simpler for businesses and users to deploy and use video collaboration technology, reducing what Michael Helmbrecht, LifeSize's vice president and general manager of video solutions, said were a number of inhibitors to video conferencing adoption.

While businesses are seeing improved employee productivity and reduced travel costs, thanks to video conferencing, they're finding that they're limited in the number of people they can support because of cost, complexity and infrastructure demands, Helmbrecht told eWEEK.

"If it doesn't get simpler, they'll have to cap how many people and how many systems they can support," he said.

The new offerings come at a time of transition for the video conferencing market, which saw a significant boost during the global recession a few years ago, as businesses scrambled to find ways to cut costs while keep employee productivity high. Over the past few fiscal quarters, the industry has seen sales slump. Revenues in the third quarter of 2012 fell 4.8 percent from the same period in 2011, with the biggest drag being on larger immersive telepresence systems, though some segments—personal video conferencing products and MCUs, for multi-party video conferences—are growing, according to IDC analysts.

The drop in revenues has corresponded to the growth in smartphone and tablets sales and such trends as a more mobile workforce and bring your own device (BYOD), driving the demand for video conferencing solutions that enable collaboration at any time, from anywhere and on any device, from mobile devices to desktops to smaller room units.

Most established vendors are rolling out solutions—both hardware and software—designed to meet those demands, while some smaller companies, such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Networks, are offering software-only products.

Bob Romano, global vice president for marketing at Radvision, said the software-only offerings do reduce the costs associated with hardware solutions, but don't offer the same level of performance—most support up to 720p, rather than the higher-definition 1080p. The hybrid Scopia Elite 6000 Series is designed to offer HD video on an appliance that is open, interoperable and affordable, Romano told eWEEK.

"[Software-only solutions] just don't yet have the capability and power to support what's needed," he said.