Cisco Expands Video Collaboration Portfolio

Cisco is looking to make it easier for companies to widely adopt video collaboration through new endpoints, recording offerings and video search capabilities.

Cisco Systems is continuing to expand its video conferencing offerings, rolling out a host of new and upgraded devices designed to make it easier for users to collaborate via video, and to produce and share video with others.

The Feb. 24 announcement comes a week before Cisco's Partner Summit 2011 in New Orleans, and is the latest evidence of the big bet Cisco is putting on video. Company officials have said that more than half all Internet traffic now is video-based, and that number will go to more than 90 percent by 2014. In addition, businesses will continue to adopt video conferencing as a way to reduce travel costs and improve employee productivity.

"Will it eliminate travel? No," Guido Jouret, CTO of Cisco's Emerging Technology Group, said in an interview with eWEEK. "Will it take a significant bite out of it? Yes."

Jouret also said another indication of corporate interest is the change of discussion about the subject over the past couple of years.

"Two years ago, the conversation was, -Why video?'" he said. "Now I'm seeing the conversation changing to, -How video?'"

Cisco wants to push that transition along. The company's new offerings include products designed to make it easier for businesses to deploy video throughout their organizations. It follows on the company's announcement in November 2010 that it was video-enabling all its endpoints, officials said.

Cisco is rolling out its TelePresence Content Server 5.0, acquired via the company's purchase of Tandberg. The offering, which will be available in March, gives customers a complete video recording and streaming capability, and it integrates with Cisco's Show and Share video conferencing platform. In addition, Cisco has added French and Spanish capabilities to Show and Share, and has integrated with Cisco's Quad enterprise social-networking platform.

Cisco's MXE 3500 (Media Experience Engine) will make it easier for customers to find, record and deliver video, thanks to its integration with Cisco's Pulse analytics-based video search capabilities. The integration will enable MXE 3500 users to tag word and speakers in videos for easier search. The offering also includes a new interface and live streaming of video to Cisco Digital Signage solutions.

Cisco also unveiled its TelePresence System 1300 Series, which includes a 47-inch display for offices or conference rooms, and the TelePresence Touch, a 12-inch display with a touch-screen interface with one-button capabilities. Cisco also is putting a video camera and 5-inch high-resolution display on two new IP phones, the 8941 and 8945.

Jouret said he expects Cisco's efforts to expand its video collaboration offerings will help drive interest in video conferencing among businesses. Already corporations are seeing benefits in such areas as training and meetings, as well as during mergers and acquisitions, and banking and retail environments.

In addition, the savings in travel could be significant, he said. Jouret noted that Cisco has widely adopted video conferencing as a way of saving money. For example, Jouret said he has reduced his travel expenses by about 75 percent over the past two years, while meeting with two to three times as many customers.

As customer interest grows, so does competition among vendors. Cisco is seeing pressure from a number of other video-conferencing companies, including Polycom, Hewlett-Packard and Logitech's LifeSize Communications business.