LifeSize Expands Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Solution

The company enables businesses to connect to video meetings via Web browsers, and also offers a pair of systems for smaller conference rooms.

video conferencing

LifeSize Communications has been rapidly growing its cloud-based video conferencing capabilities since founder Craig Malloy returned as CEO a year ago, and it is starting off the new year with more enhancements aimed at expanding the reach of the technology within its customers' businesses.

LifeSize, which is a division of Logitech, next month will being enabling LifeSize Cloud customers to connect to video meetings from their Web browsers, through Microsoft's Lynch unified communications (UC) platform, and from Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook.

At the same time, LifeSize on Jan. 14 unveiled two new low-cost systems—the Icon 400 and Icon Flex—that bring high-end video conferencing capabilities to smaller meeting rooms.

The new offerings are part of LifeSize's larger efforts to embrace the growing demand for lower-cost video conferencing technology that offers solid performance and scalability while bringing the ease of use that workers have grown used to through the services—such as Skype—and applications—like Yelp and Pandora—that they use in their personal lives, Malloy told eWEEK.

"The demand for video has never been higher, but this time it's being driven by consumer technology," he said.

Customers are looking for video collaboration technology that is easy to deploy and that can be leveraged anytime from anywhere and on any device, whether it's a conference-room system or a tablet or smartphone. More workers are doing their jobs out of the office—either from the road or from remote offices or homes—and increasingly are using their own devices for work, forcing businesses to adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. These workers want to be able to collaborate from wherever they are and on whatever device they have on hand.

These demands are roiling the video conferencing market. IDC analysts have been tracking the space for years, documenting the slowing sales of expensive and complex conference-room hardware as organizations migrate to lower-cost video collaboration offerings that are more software- and cloud-based.

Rich Costello, senior analyst for enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC, said in August 2014 that the mixed numbers on video equipment sales are "indicative of the ongoing transition from a primarily hardware-based reporting model to one impacted by the interest in and growth of video subscription services. On the bright side for the video equipment vendors, most or all of these vendors now offer, or are ramping-up to offer, cloud-based video alternatives to customers—in addition to their own lower cost, premises-based systems."

LifeSize, which like Cisco Systems and Polycom made its name initially on video collaboration hardware, is now moving aggressively in building up its cloud and software capabilities. Cisco and Polycom also are growing their cloud and software portfolios, and a growing number of smaller companies are offering solutions that are only software- and cloud-based. The cloud is becoming pervasive in many aspects of computing, Malloy said.

"That cloud infrastructure trend is caringly moving into video conferencing as well," he said.