Siemens Brings Video Conferencing to OpenScape UC Suite

Siemens' software-based video conferencing offering is designed to be an alternative to more costly hardware-based solutions from competitors, according to company officials.

Siemens Enterprise Communications is adding desktop video conferencing capabilities to its OpenScape unified communications portfolio, arguing that the software-based offering will be easier for enterprises to deploy and use than hardware-based systems from the likes of Cisco Systems.

Siemens' OpenScape Desktop Videoconferencing will also be a less expensive alternative to competitive offerings that require proprietary hardware servers, appliances or endpoints, according to company executives. All that's needed for OpenScape Desktop Videoconferencing is a standalone Web cam or Web cam capabilities in the PC, the company said.

"By delivering OpenScape Desktop Videoconferencing as an integrated capability of the OpenScape UC Server, it's now easier and more affordable for organizations to deploy video-enabled UC across the enterprise and manage it in a centralized, cost-effective manner," Chris Hummel, CMO and president for Siemens North America operations, said in a statement.

Siemens is joining a growing number of vendors that are bringing video conferencing capabilities out of the conference room and onto desktops and mobile devices. And the video conferencing space is only expected to grow, as enterprises look for ways to increase collaboration and productivity among workers and to reduce expenses, including travel costs. Market research firm Infonetics Research said in a report in March that spending on video conferencing and immersive telepresence technology grew to $2.2 billion in 2010-an 18 percent jump over 2009-and that it will reach $15 billion by 2015.

"Communicating via video continues to be one of the top trends in telecom, as evidenced by strong growth in the enterprise video market," Infonetics analyst Matthias Machowinski said in a statement at the time. "Businesses worldwide are looking for richer means of communications with their employees, partners and customers, and enterprise video conferencing and telepresence solutions are a natural fit."

Cisco and Polycom are the dominant players in the space, but a host of other vendors also are making inroads, including Avaya, Vidyo and LifeSize Communications.

With its new enterprise-level video conferencing offering, announced Sept. 13, Siemens will offer businesses the capability of running scheduled or ad-hoc meetings with such features as video presence user status and one-number service for video endpoints. In addition, there will be multi-party views with ways of showing who the active speaker is, and interoperability with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based endpoints from the likes of LifeSize, Cisco, Polycom and Radvision.

OpenScape Desktop Videoconferencing will be an embedded software feature in the new version of Siemens' OpenScape UC Suite. It will be delivered as a standard feature of OpenScape UC Applications. It supports the H.364 HD codec and AudioPresence, and offers 1280 x 720 resolution.

Along with the videoconferencing capabilities, the OpenScape UC Suite also has new security and management updates. There are enhancements to OpenScape Voice, including IPv6 support, Session Description Protocol Security Descriptions (SDES) security, and expanded support for OpenScape Branch and Skype Connect trunking options for OpenScape Session Border Controller.