Tandberg ASA, an Oslo, Norway-based maker of videoconferencing endpoints and conference bridges, announced this week that it is acquiring Ridgeway Systems & Software, based in Reading, England, for $16 million.
Ridgeway Systems & Software Ltd., which had offices in West Long Branch, N.J., and Austin, Texas, before waves of downsizing in 2003, sells servers and clients that address the problems most employees meet when trying to exchange video or voice over IP (VOIP) with those outside the enterprise LAN: firewall blockage and endpoint address inaccessibility due to network address translation.
Ridgeway calls this system IPFreedom. Its server software, installed outside firewalls, communicates with downloadable personal clients and/or installed site clients, requiring no open inbound ports.
Connections—through two well-known boundary traversal ports in the server, 2776 and 2777—are always created from inside the firewall. All real-time video communication travels in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) through the ports opened by the IPFreedom Server; no inbound traffic opens the ports itself.
One IPFreedom Server serves an entire network, regardless of the number of firewalls or their make or model, making it an excellent choice for videoconferencing service providers and their customers. Each software client has its own unique password and ID and authenticates itself over a TCP connection.
Ridgeway had an OEM agreement with Polycom Ltd.–Tandberg ASAs major competition–but it turns out that Tandberg will be the one to embed the technology in its own videoconferencing endpoints: a feature that should, in the words of Tandberg CEO Andrew Miller, “accelerate the adoption of video over IP.”
“The majority of todays video over IP takes place within an enterprise, vertical or government organization, and now it can take place between these organizations,” he said.
Andrew Davis, an analyst at conferencing market research firm Wainhouse Research, called the move “sure to give the Tandberg videoconferencing systems a competitive edge.”
The IPFreedom client software is due to be integrated or embedded into all Tandberg endpoints beginning in the first quarter of 2005. Along with the firewall and NAT-transversal technology, the deal gains for Tandberg six U.K.-based engineers.