HP New Video Collaboration Solutions Enter Competitive Market

HP's new collaboration offerings come in the market at the same time Cisco, Microsoft and others look to gain traction in the highly competitive space.

Hewlett-Packard is rolling out a host of new video collaboration technologies, unveiling its additions in the middle of a week that has seen more than its share of communications announcements from top-tier vendors.

Cisco Systems, kicking off its Collaboration 2010 Summit Nov. 15, introduced its efforts to integrate its visual communications technologies with a new desktop virtualization effort. At the same time, Cisco officials announced that they were video-enabling all of their endpoints and rolling out new TelePresence offerings.

Microsoft Nov. 17 took the wraps off Lync 2010, the latest iteration of its Office Communications software suite that is the company's latest push into the highly competitive UC (unified communications) market. Along the way, a number of other vendors, including telepresence vendor Polycom, announced support for Microsoft's offering.

Smaller vedors also are working to gain traction in the space. Mitel Nov. 15 introduced its Freedom architecture , a cloud-based solution designed to bring an array of communications capabilities to enterprises, and such supporting offerings as Mitel AnyWhere, desktop virtualization integration with VMware View, and expanded UC support for Google Android, Research In Motion and Apple devices.

Now comes HP, which on Nov. 17 rolled out software offerings that will enable enterprises to bring high-definition video communications anywhere. It will allow businesses that have gotten used to the high-quality immersive experience of HP's Halo telepresence products to get a similar one through their desktops or other devices, according to Darren Podrabsky, marketing manager for HP's Visual Collaboration business.

"We're delivering it to conference rooms and desktops everywhere," Podrabsky said in an interview with eWEEK. "What we have heard from customers is they that they love this immersive experience, but they want it where ever they are."

The communications space is getting a lot of attention from a growing number of IT vendors, as businesses look for ways to reduces costs-such as travel expenses-while increasing worker productivity. In addtion, the workforce is getting significantly more mobile, driving the demand for communications infrastructures that can reach anywhere. Forrester Research is expected the UC space to grow to $14.5 billion by 2015.

"Customers need to collaborate inside and outside their companies - whether they are travelling, working at home or at the office," said Rob Scott, general manager and vice president of HP's Visual Collaboration, said in a statement.

Key to HP's ability to bring HD video communications to a greater number of endpoints while driving down bandwidth demand is its partnership with Vidyo, a pact announced in June that lets HP leverage SVC (scalable video coding) technology from Vidyo. The SVC codec improves the user experience and reduces latency while eliminating the need for an expensives MCU (multipoint control unit), according to HP officials.

Two new desktop offerings include the Visual Collaboration Desktop, a software client that can be used on any PC or notebook, and the Visual Collaboration Executive Desktop, a touchscreen solution that includes a TouchSmart Quad bundled with Visual Collaboration software and comes with aa camera and headset.

In addition, HP unveiled the Visual Collaboration Room 100 and Room 220, solutions that integrate high-quality video into multipurpose conference rooms.

HP next year will release technology that will link its immersive Halo studios with the dekstop and conference room offerings to create a highly integrated communications infrastructure, officials said.

Hp also unveiled the x86-based infrastructure that enable enterprises to run the communications solutions, incluidng the Visual Collaboration Portal, which comes ready to run on a ProLiant DL360 server. The solution lets IT staff manage such tasks as remote configuration, authentication and licensing.

HP's Visual Collaboration Router, built on the company's ProLiants, offers distributed media routing, and the Visual Collaboration Gateway, which supports both H.323 and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standards, lets businesses continue to use legacy videoconferencing products they already have in the SVC environment.

HP's Podrabsky said the new products, which are avaialble immediately, are aimed at enterprises, and are expected to find traction in such industries as oil and gas exploration, financial services, pharmeceuticals, wireless and telecommunications, and software development.