VBrick Challenges Cisco with New Enterprise Video Server

Hot on the heels of Cisco's $3 billion bid to buy Tandberg, enterprise IP video provider VBrick launches VBrick Enterprise Media System. VEMS is a video server loaded with software that looks at the bandwidth connections of the offices the video is being shuttled to and routes users to the best location to receive video content without impacting the performance of other networked applications. VBrick, which already placed VEMS with Vodafone, is looking to tackle market leader Cisco.

Seeking to challenge networking giant Cisco Systems in the enterprise video arena, VBrick Oct. 5 launched an Internet protocol-based video management system for streaming live and on-demand video for big businesses.

VBrick Enterprise Media System (VEMS) is the VBrick Reflector server loaded with software that captures and encodes video content-bringing it from analog to digital format-compresses it, and sends it over the network to desktop computers, TVs, mobile devices and digital signs.

Most enterprise video servers do this. But VEMS also looks at the bandwidth connections of the offices the video is being shuttled to, determines potential bottlenecks and routes users to the best location to receive video content, all without impacting the performance of other networked applications. VEMS does this by using defined zones to direct users to IP video content and prevent them from pulling multiple video streams over low-bandwidth WAN links.

Solutions such as VEMS take on a greater importance during a recession; when travel budgets shrink, companies turn to servers that can deliver live or on-demand video streams, including companywide broadcasts from CEOs and other corporate executives to ad-hoc video sessions among employees.

To that end, VEMS serves video to tens of thousands of concurrent users across the corporate network, John Shaw, executive vice president of marketing and business operations for VBrick, told eWEEK in a recent interview.

VEMS sounds like a lot of other solutions in the enterprise IP video market until you look under the hood. VEMS features an easy-on-the-eyes-and-mind user interface equipped with search features that make finding video content as easy as if users are searching Google's YouTube video search.

VBrick is counting on VEMS' sleek user interface and search capabilities to set it apart from existing media servers from rival Cisco Systems, which just bid to buy enterprise video conferencing player (and VBrick partner) Tandberg to expand its dominance in the space.

VBrick, which has been around for 11 years, isn't exactly quaking in fear over Cisco's size.

Shaw said VBrick regularly beats Cisco and other comers in head-to-head competitions, with quality and lower prices and being two of the key determining factors in VBrick's favor. One new customer is wireless phone carrier Vodafone, which is using VEMS to help roughly 80,000 employees in offices in 27 countries communicate via Internet video.

Dan Rayburn, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, said VBrick was primarily a video appliance but customers told the company it needed to add platform value on top of it, which is what VEMS is aiming for. "The moment VBrick starts layering applications on top of their platform, their hardware becomes a lot more valuable," Rayburn said.

Rayburn also said that while the enterprise video market might not be cool and sexy, companies like Cisco, VBrick, Accordant, Sonic Foundry are steadily growing. Rayburn, who has spoken to executives at companies like Nike, Ford and Pfizer, said enterprise video providers don't have to walk into a Fortune 500 company and convince them why they need video.

"They already know the value," Rayburn said. "You need to convince them how they deploy it and what products and services they use and what hardware and software they use."

That's VBrick's challenge.

VEMS comes in three editions-standard, professional and enterprise-designed for varying corporate requirements. A single VBrick server with VEMS runs $15,000, but large deployments will run companies into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

VBrick Oct. 5 also announced a VEMS plug-in for IBM Lotus Sametime. This software module will inject video into IBM's instant messaging and Web conferencing environment, allowing users to search and view live and on-demand video and rich media presentations, share that content with their contacts, and chat with content creators.