Blue Jeans Network Offers Cloud-Based Video Conferencing

Blue Jeans is letting customers license concurrent video conferencing solutions without having to buy and manage expensive hardware-based MCUs.

Blue Jeans Network is offering a cloud-based video conference bridging solution that is designed to enable easy interoperability between systems from the likes of Cisco Systems, Polycom, LifeSize Communications and Skype and eliminate the need for costly multipoint control units (MCUs).

The networking company on March 21 announced new pricing plans that enable businesses to license a number of concurrent connections€”or €œvirtual ports€€”from Blue Jeans, rather than having to rely on hardware-based MCUs to bring more than two people into a video conference.

The offering is a way of letting businesses of all sizes use video conferencing technology from any vendor by reducing the amount they have to pay for buying, maintaining and managing an MCU, according to Blue Jeans CEO Krish Ramakrishnan.

€œOur goal was to make video conferencing a practical alternative for businesses of any size,€ Ramakrishnan said in a statement. €œTo do that, we knew we had to make it just as easy, open and affordable as traditional audio-only bridging systems. By combining improved functionality over legacy MCU systems with the economics, ease and security of the cloud, our customers can now use video to improve their business collaboration.€

The economics favor solutions that can do away with MCUs, according to Blue Jeans officials. They said that over five years, the video conference bridging costs with Blue Jeans€™ plans can be about 25 percent of what they are with traditional hardware-based MCUs. In addition, with its cloud-based nature, Blue Jeans€™ plans to make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to grow their video conferencing capabilities, and customers only pay for what they need, rather than having to overprovision.

It€™s also important as the numbers and types of devices people are using for video conferencing grow, the officials said. Where once businesses primarily could use specially designed systems, they now are using desktop PCs and notebooks, smartphones, tablets and other devices for video conferencing. It€™s not only that the devices themselves are capable, but a growing number of vendors€”including Cisco, Polycom, ShoreTel and Vidyo€”are making their solutions available to mobile devices via apps.

It€™s also for that reason that interoperability is important, according to officials. With the Blue Jeans bridging offering, businesses can bring in participants who are using a variety of both corporate and consumer devices.

Other vendors also are bringing their video conferencing capabilities to the cloud. Vidyo in November 2011 rolled out its Virtualized VidyoRouter, an all-software version of its VidyoRouter appliance that can be run in virtual machines. Vidyo officials, like their counterparts at Blue Jeans, are pushing their solution as a lower-cost alternative to offerings from Cisco and Polycom, touting that they, too, have eliminated the need for MCUs.

Businesses are continuing to embrace video conferencing as a way of improving employee productivity and reducing travel expenses, and they are seeing demand grow among their workers. Blue Jeans noted numbers from Wainhouse Research, which said that the video conferencing infrastructure was about a $700 million-per-year space.

Analysts with market research firm IDC said this month that the worldwide enterprise video conferencing market grew to about $2.7 billion in 2011, and projected revenues would grow to $3.2 billion this year.

"Growth in worldwide enterprise video conferencing and telepresence in 2011 was spurred by well-defined video use cases across a variety of vertical market business segments, as well as the continuing decrease of cultural barriers to video acceptance within organizations," Rich Costello, senior research analyst for IDC€™s Enterprise Communications Infrastructure group, said in a statement when the numbers were released March 14. "We also expect to see increasing integrations of video and telepresence with unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) applications driving the market during the forecast period."