LifeSize Unveils Virtualized, Software-Based Video MCU

The company also is offering clustering capabilities for its bridges, enabling businesses to manage a number of bridges as a single virtual bridge.

LifeSize Communications is building on its its UVC video conferencing software platform with new bridging offerings designed to make it easier to make video calls over mobile devices and to cluster multiple bridges
into a single virtual bridge.

The new bridging solutions are aimed at making multiparty video calling more virtualized, more flexible, easier to manage and less costly than other hardware-based solutions, according to Michael Helmbrecht, vice president and general manager of video solutions at LifeSize.

LifeSize on Aug. 14 introduced the UVC integrated software platform in February, the result of several years of development. Larger rivals such as Cisco Systems and Polycom, which also offer a range of hardware systems, also are making extensive pushes in video conferencing software development, driven by such trends as the rapidly growing number of disparate endpoints used for video meetings-from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets-increasing worker mobility, the desire to drive down costs and the growing demand for interoperability between vendor platforms.

There also is a growing number of smaller startups, such as Vidyo, that are pushing all-software video conferencing solutions. LifeSize is embracing this trend with the UVC platform and the growing number of applications the company is bringing to it.

"It's totally software-based," Helmbrecht told eWEEK. "It's totally flexible, and not reliant on hardware."
Helmbrecht said the new LifeSize offerings address the shift in enterprise technology away from the business and more toward the employee, such as in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, where workers increasingly are choosing the mobile device-particularly smartphones and tablets-they use in the workplace.

LifeSize is rolling out its UVC Multipoint, a software-based multi-control unit (MCU) that addresses the demand from the consumerization of IT movement for greater user control of technology. The application is designed to offer a multiparty video conferencing tool that is easy to use and to manage, and can rapidly scale depending on need. Features include greater reliability, with calls not being interrupted even if there is a system failure, to employees having all the tools to launch on-demand multiparty video calls whenever they need, without the need for additional hardware. Only a license key is required.

The UVC Multipoint application also offers a single administrative interface and dial plan, according to Helmbrecht. Simplifying the MCU is critical to the expanded adoption of video conferencing, Helmbrecht said.

"The MCU is the most complex part of video, the most expensive part," he said.

LifeSize's UVC Multipoint reduces that complexity and expense, which is important in the BYOD world, where mobile devices are the key, but where it's been difficult to get into video calls via these devices, he said.

"The shift over the past 18 months has been very aggressively toward mobile," Helmbrecht said.

LifeSize also is adding high-availability clustering capabilities to is LifeSize Bridge hardware. Users can now cluster multiple bridges and have them work together as a single virtualized bridge. With the new offering, LifeSize Bridge users can cluster up to 10 bridges and manage them as a single bridge, with the ability to dynamically push the necessary bridge resources to support a call and to ensure failover protection if one of the bridges fails. "It just runs as one big pool, and it's much easier for IT administrators," he said. "They just set
it up and it goes."

According to Helmbrecht, the goal for next year is to be able to cluster together virtualized and physical bridges, bringing with it the capability of offering everything from massive room video conferencing systems onto the same software bridge as calls from mobile devices. LifeSize also is making smaller capacities of bridges available for businesses looking for an entry-level option. Users can get as few as eight to 12 ports, with the ability to upgrade with another four ports.