Cisco Intros Telepresence Protocol in Tandberg System

At the InfoComm 2010 show, Cisco introduced the Tandberg TelePresence Server, which supports Cisco's Telepresence Interoperability Protocol, which is designed to make solutions from Cisco and third-party vendors work together. Cisco also unveiled the TelePresence Commercial Express, a low-cost telepresence product aimed at SMBs.

Cisco Systems is putting support for its interoperability protocol into its Tandberg TelePresence Server, the first step in its push to enable the telepresence products from Cisco and other vendors to work together.

The TIP announcement was one of several Cisco made June 8 at the InfoComm 2010 show in Las Vegas.

Cisco introduced TIP (Telepresence Interoperability Protocol) in January into the public domain in a move to expand the number of companies that can take advantage of immersive telepresence video collaboration by increasing interoperability among disparate vendors.

That will let businesses not only improve communications among employees, but also with customers and partners as well.

Cisco is licensing TIP to other vendors royalty-free, and said in January that a number of companies-including LifeSize Communications and Radvision-had already signed licensing agreements.

The eventual goal is to have TIP accepted in the industry as an open standard.

However, not all vendors are on board. Polycom officials in February said they would not be licensing TIP, arguing that there are enough accepted standards developed by third-party standards bodies for single-display video conferencing. Similar efforts by independent boards can address multidisplay telepresence products, which is the target of TIP.

They also said they were wary of a standards effort being driven by a single-and in this case, dominant-player in a market.

In May, Polycom, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and others created the UCIF (Unified Communications Interoperability Forum), which is charged with pushing interoperability between UC offerings using currently established standards.

Other founding members of the group are Juniper Networks and Logitech (which last year bought LifeSize for $405 million).

Absent from the group are Cisco and Avaya, both of which were invited to join, according to UCIF members.

Cisco's Tandberg TelePresence Server, which supports TIP, will be available in both a blade form factor in the MSE 8000 chassis and as a stand-alone appliance.

In addition, Cisco at the InfoComm show unveiled TelePresence Commercial Express, a low-cost solution aimed at SMBs that combined TelePresence Manager, TelePresence Multipoint Switch and TelePresence Recording Server onto a single server running VMware's virtualization technology.

A key to Cisco, which has a high profile in enterprises, buying Tandberg for $3.4 billion was the ability to move its TelePresence solutions more deeply into the SMB space.

Cisco is expecting big things from its Tandberg acquisition. Officials say revenue could grow to $1 billion or more now that the company is in the fold. They also expect demand for telepresence technology to grow, projecting the worldwide market to increase from $3 billion in 2010 to $10 billion over the next five to seven years.

Cisco isn't the only vendor looking to make it easier and less expensive for businesses to adopt telepresence technology. Polycom June 7 introduced the OTX 300, which will help reduce costs by cutting in half the network bandwidth needed for systems from competitors.