LifeSize Communications is growing the capabilities of its cloud-based video conferencing service, from adding interoperability with Microsoft’s Lync communications platform to easier scheduling through Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar to including browser-based calling.
Founder and CEO Craig Malloy 11 months ago introduced the LifeSize Cloud service, shifting the company’s focus away from its on-premises hardware roots and focusing its efforts on the trend in video conferencing toward more software- and cloud-based solutions. Since then, LifeSize has kept up a rapid-fire pace of bolstering the software-as-service (SaaS) offering, and the enhancements announced April 6 follow in that pattern.
The demand for cloud-based video conferencing solutions spans a broad range of businesses, according to Malloy. Organizations are looking for flexible and cost-efficient collaboration technologies to increase worker productivity and to meet the challenges of a more mobile workforce and trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD), with employees wanting the ability to collaborate from any device, including smartphones, tablets and notebooks.
“From small businesses to global corporations, the demand for cloud-based video communications is exploding,” Malloy said in a statement. “Consumer applications have influenced the need to be fully accessible, anywhere at any time.”
For LifeSize, the shift in focus to the cloud has proved to be a boon. Officials said that more than 1,000 companies have subscribed to the vendor’s service over the first 10 months of availability, logging millions of meeting minutes.
Included among the new enhancements is the interoperability with Lync, which enables Lync users to join meetings on the LifeSize Cloud through a single click. In addition, users can schedule video meetings and invite others to join directly from Google Calendar or Outlook without having to open the LifeSize Cloud app. They also can use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Google Chrome to make video calls via the LifeSize Cloud directly from their Web browser.
LifeSize, which is a division of Logitech, is growing the number of devices that can be used in cloud-based video calls, including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 and Galaxy Note 4, Motorola Mobility’s Moto X 2013 edition, and more devices running Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
The vendor also is making it easier to run and manage large meetings with many participants. The cloud service now offers 40-way group calling, and includes enhanced control settings that include a new lecture mode, mute all and layout option features. In lecture mode, users can assign a primary presenter and put them on full screen, which enables a single person to take charge of the meeting. With the new layout options, users can also mute all participants.
LifeSize Grows Cloud Video Services With Lync Interoperability
All of this is important for situations such as when a CEO is talking to the entire company about quarterly earnings, according to Ellen Hawes Durbin, senior product marketing manager at LifeSize.
“Those humongous company-wide meetings (think hundreds of people) are always problematic because it’s hard to see and hear one person presenting in a room full of people, especially when there are scores of remote employees dialing in from different countries,” Durbin wrote in a post on the company blog. “Now, if you want to see your CEO full-screen when she’s presenting, you can. … And if Albert from Albuquerque can’t control his allergies and keeps sneezing, and Danielle from Des Moines has a dog that won’t stop yapping, your meeting moderator can mute everyone.”
Businesses also can leverage a user dashboard to find out which teams are using the LifeSize Cloud service and allocate resources accordingly.
The video conferencing space continues to transition toward software and cloud offerings, according to industry analysts. Infonetics Research earlier this month reported that the video conferencing hardware and software market grew 24 percent in the fourth quarter 2014 over the previous three months, and for the first time hit more than $1 billion in revenues for a quarter.
Endpoint shipments were up 39 percent in 2014—hitting 15 million—due primarily to demand for software, which grew 44 percent last year. Worldwide video conferencing and telepresence equipment revenue jumped 5 percent in 2014, to $3.3 billion, though the trend is away from high-end systems used in conference rooms to personal video conferencing systems, the Infonetics analysts said.
IDC analysts last month said revenues for video conferencing equipment continued to fall last year, despite some strength in the fourth quarter.
“The results are reflective of the ongoing market transition from a primarily hardware-based technology to one impacted by the growing interest in software-based solutions and video subscription services,” Rich Costello, senior analyst for enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC, said in a statement in March.