CES Show-Goers at ShowStoppers: Make Sure to Stop by Vidyo!!

Tonight the ever-exciting CES 2012 ShowStoppers event will take place in Las Vegas … and, as always, the level of “WOW” will be off the charts as new products and groundbreaking technologies vie for the attention of CES attendees. Vidyo’s contribution to the excitement this year is sure to generate a lot of WOW electricity!

Vidyo was able to get multipoint video conferencing up and running on Amazon’s new Kindle Fire – and tonight at CES ShowStoppers we’ll be showcasing this as another proof point of how Vidyo has lead the way into a new generation video conferencing solutions.  We’ll also be featuring the latest platform support for its VidyoMobile™ HD video conferencing software client: Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ running on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smart phone. The new Android mobile platform will be part of a live, multi-point, global video conference connecting an extensive variety of endpoints on iOS and Android mobile devices including Kindle Fire, plus desktops, laptops and room systems. ShowStoppers takes place tonight from 6 to 10pm in the Lafite Ballroom of the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

And – while you’re at CES this week – you can also find Vidyo at the Alcatel-Lucent Booth – #31412 South Upper Hall  - as Vidyo teams with Alcatel-Lucent and other ng Connect member companies to provide a glimpse into videoconferencing and broadband-enabled service concepts in the transportation, public safety and healthcare industries. According to Jason Collins, Vice President of Emerging Technology and Innovation at Alcatel-Lucent, “Vidyo is an ideal fit for the ng Connect Program, where we show how high-bandwidth networks can transform specific industries to spur excitement about future possibilities. The integration of live videoconferencing, by leveraging Vidyo’s ability to deliver a high quality, flexible video conferencing solution over a range of devices, helps the service concepts achieve an even greater impact and a more compelling value proposition.”

And don’t forget to check out the Vidyo-based retail kiosk demo — part of the Connected Retail Experience demo in the Verizon booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Booth #32059)! Vidyo is teaming with Verizon Wireless to showcase sophisticated HD videoconferencing over a 4G LTE network that can help make shopping more fun for consumers and more profitable for retailers.  In the Connected Retail Experience, a Virtual Personal Stylist (VPS) shows how shopping for new clothes can become both an easier and a richer experience over the 4G LTE network.

We hope you are having a fun, productive time at CES … and hope to see you at ShowStoppers tonight!

Open Letter to Wainhouse Research Senior Analyst Andrew W. Davis

Dear Andrew,

I read with great interest your coverage of Cisco’s future multipoint video architecture. I am not sure if it was intentional, but your title selection resonated well with us: we all know what happened to the Empire! We (in the rebellion camp) are happy to see the big players admitting one after the other that all these expensive MCUs they are selling are a really bad investment – thank you for pointing this out.

This confirms what we have been saying all along: it is all about an efficient architecture that can replace the MCU. I did, however want to share my thoughts on some of the technical aspects around the Cisco solution.

The big question is HOW to replace the MCU, without losing functionality? Let me touch on a few aspects of this:

Error Resilience: As you mentioned in your analysis, Cisco provides error resilience using Forward Error Correction (FEC). FEC is a wasteful technique because you spend bits even when you don’t need them. Furthermore, it is particularly bad when error conditions are bursty. You identified this point much earlier in your November 2009 report “H.264 SVC: A Technical Assessment” (P. 25-30, “FEC overhead can range from 20% to 100%”). To make matters worse, the FEC overhead has to be added to the multi-stream overhead. Not to mention the fact that the FEC approach cannot avoid sending I frames, which degrades the quality of the call for all participants, not just the ones experiencing problems. FEC did not work with single-layer AVC and will not work well with multi-stream AVC either.

Personal Layouts and Bitrates: For years the key selling point of expensive MCUs was that you must be able to adapt the bitrate and viewing options to individually accommodate each participant. With the new Cisco solution everyone gets to see “Exactly the Same Thing” (like identical Storm Troopers). What happens with Cisco’s multi-stream solution if you happen to have 3/4 of the bandwidth required for full HD? Do you display the stamp-size 240p? And what if you want to see a 2×2 layout of 4 participants, you show them as 240p images on a 60-inch screen? What happens if some people want to see different people at HD? As you so rightfully point out in your commentary, “the difference is in the significant details.”

Error resilience matters, personal layout matters, and bitrate adaptation matters. And you can get all of them today, not in the future, with Vidyo’s implementation of video switching, using standard H.264 SVC. It’s called Adaptive Video Layering (AVL).

Interoperability: Arguably the most interesting feature of multi-streaming is the promise of better interoperability with legacy systems. From your note, however, it seems that the “native interoperability” claimed for Cisco’s architecture requires a Codian MCU to “act as the gateway between the multi-encoding world and the non-multi-encoding world for multi-point calls.” MOST Legacy devices participating in multipoint calls cannot do their own composition of the multi-stream, so they need someone to do it for them. The advantage, if any, will be limited to a small subset of Cisco’s newer endpoints.

In reality the market has already indicated where it is going, with a roster of Vidyo’s licensees that includes Google, Ricoh, and Hitachi, among many others, and Polycom and Microsoft announcing their plans to support SVC. Wainhouse Research has once again done a nice job in providing its readership with the information necessary to connect the dots with regard to where the video conferencing industry is heading. Everyone now agrees – there’s no future for the MCU.

- Ofer Shapiro.

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Vidyo Co-Founder and CEO Ofer Shapiro

Ofer co-founded Vidyo in 2005 and pioneered Personal Telepresence, enabling a new generation of software-based natural, multi-point HD video conferences on desktop computers, room systems, and mobile devices. Prior to Vidyo, Ofer spent eight years at RADVISION where he was responsible for the development of the first IP video conferencing bridge and gatekeeper technology and the first commercially successful video conferencing architecture. He also served as senior vice president of business development responsible for strategic sales and relationships. Ofer was a contributor and one of the editors of the H.323 standard. Ofer has over fifteen years of experience in bringing disruptive technologies to market. He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Physics.

Video Conferencing Reaches an Inflection Point, and the Disruptor is Vidyo

Vidyo’s vision is to make natural communication universally available. Leading technologists doubted it could be accomplished. Competing vendors believed they could continue selling less for more.

Making natural communication universally available is about delivering standard definition per face, pictures that don’t break and latency below 250 ms for natural interaction. It also means affordable universal access to HD quality for anyone, over any network on any device. We undertook this goal 6 years ago through development of a very unique architecture which leverages the H.264 SVC compression standard. Vidyo has now been granted 10 patents (with 42 pending) for this architecture.

Today at Vidyo, we hear plenty of glowing reports from enterprises, government agencies, medical facilities and SMBs worldwide about the transformational power of Vidyo: how our affordable personal telepresence solutions help them communicate and collaborate better internally and with customers and constituents over desktops, mobile devices or telepresence room systems; how they are finding new ways to work smarter, capitalize on new business opportunities, become more competitive and to help communities recover from environmental disasters or improve the health and morale of those in need; how they are saving money by leveraging a software architecture on their existing smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops over the Internet, WiFi, 3G and 4G Networks.

It is gratifying when a leading Wall Street analyst firm – in this case Baird Equity Research – issues a report identifying Vidyo as the “disruptor” in a major inflection point in the global video conferencing market. Here’s the summary from the Baird report and its lead author, senior research analyst Jayson Noland (who you might have watched on CNBC’s Squawk Box program):

“We believe the video conferencing market is approaching an inflection point of more widespread commercial adoption driven by much lower-cost, high-quality enterprise solutions based in software. We believe this architectural shift will prove disruptive for hardware-based providers Cisco and Polycom, who currently enjoy dominant market share.”

Noland and other Baird analysts surveyed the video conferencing market, talking to vendors, resellers, and customers of video conferencing products around the world. They uncovered and present a number of interesting points about the market and its leading players, and they aren’t afraid to name names.

They make a strong case for the move toward the video compression technology standard that Vidyo’s products are based on. You can read the technical details for yourself, but here’s the main point from the report:

“…we believe H.264 SVC-based solutions (software-centric advanced compression technology) and the ‘consumerization’ of IT will allow for increased adoption rates and an expanded addressable market. While several years away, we expect software-intensive solutions to make video conferencing as pervasive as audio conferencing… Currently, Vidyo is the only vendor of size with H.264 SVC product that is generally available.”

Traditionally, video conferencing has been viewed as a big undertaking requiring dedicated rooms, equipment, and network resources. There are enormous costs involved in this traditional approach, as summed up in the Baird report:

“Industry sources estimate that [a] typical, traditional telepresence solution costs $1 million when considering the network and ongoing maintenance costs… Therefore, given the large up-front capex investment in video conferencing equipment and network upgrades, and the relatively intangible ROI, we [...] view traditional video conferencing solutions as hard to justify for many companies.”

In contrast:

“Vidyo has developed an architecture that allows the company to provide enterprise-grade mobility-focused video conferencing solutions at price points significantly below traditional vendors’ prices… With Vidyo’s recently launched VidyoPanorama, the company touts that it can provide a better telepresence experience for 10% of the cost of a traditional telepresence solution, which Vidyo estimates to be approximately $1 million (when considering the hardware, required networking, and ongoing maintenance costs)…”

“Vidyo prices its solutions significantly below Cisco and Polycom while providing the same or better quality video experience.” – Baird Equity Research Report

“While Vidyo seems to thrive in mobile environments, it also can excel in hybrid desktop/room projects, or even simply room environments. In fact, we understand that in a recent large competitive deal, Cisco and Polycom were forced to drop their prices by as much as 3x-4x to compete with Vidyo’s quote, but Vidyo still won based on a more optimal and scalable architecture… Vidyo prices its solutions significantly below Cisco and Polycom while providing the same or better quality video experience.“

Video conferencing makes intuitive sense to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations, but until recently the whole concept has been dragged down by the expense, inflexibility, and difficulty of setting up and conducting hardware-based video conferencing sessions. Vidyo is a “disruptor,” to use Baird’s term, because our software-based approach and underlying technology liberate people from the constraints of the old, outmoded approaches. A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network.” Initially Vidyo’s technology was considered to impact only the ‘new market’ – the desktop – but it is now clear that is impacts every aspect and form factor of video communication. The biggest impact which ties it all together is connecting mobile-desktop-room-telepresence across the same infrastructure without transcoding – which gives Vidyo the differentiated advantage of delivering natural video communications, universally and affordably.

The Baird report puts its finger on why Vidyo, and no current vendors dominating the market, represents the future of video conferencing:

“The consumerization of IT, combined with the rise of mobile and remote workers, has created an inflection point for the enterprise video conferencing market, as there seems to be more need and desire for videoconferencing in the dynamic workplace… We view Vidyo’s ability to virtualize and scale as a significant competitive advantage, one in which we do not believe the traditional, MCU-based [i.e., hardware-based] vendors (Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize, RADVISION, Huawei) will be able to replicate given their hardware-centric architectures.”

According to the Baird Equity Group report the future of video conferencing – over the Internet, from any device, in real time and with real clarity – is available now, with Vidyo.

The Wikipedia entry on disruptive innovation also tells us how this all ends:

“…. Meanwhile, upstart firms inhabit different value networks, at least until the day that their disruptive innovation is able to invade the older value network. At that time, the established firm in that network can at best only fend off the market share attack with a me-too entry, for which survival (not thriving) is the only reward.”

If you followed the latest announcements from the incumbents on what their ‘upcoming’ products will do, you may notice it is the same as what Vidyo has been doing for a while. You can see where we are in the cycle. The market is in transition and Vidyo is leading it.

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Vidyo co-founder and CEO Ofer Shapiro

Ofer co-founded Vidyo in 2005 and pioneered Personal Telepresence, enabling a new generation of software-based natural, multi-point HD video conferences on desktop computers, room systems, and mobile devices. Prior to Vidyo, Ofer spent eight years at RADVISION where he was responsible for the development of the first IP video conferencing bridge and gatekeeper technology and the first commercially successful video conferencing architecture. He also served as senior vice president of business development responsible for strategic sales and relationships. Ofer was a contributor and one of the editors of the H.323 standard. Ofer has over fifteen years of experience in bringing disruptive technologies to market. He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Physics.

Who’s First? The Race for Mobile Video Conferencing…

…And does it really matter?

      • December 2010 – Elisa service on Galaxy- first mobile service offering
        by a telecom provider on a tab and phone
      • August 2011 – Vidyo’s mobile client is available in the Apple App Store
        delivering multipoint HD videoconferencing for both iPhone and iPad
      • October 2011 – Polycom announces first enterprise HD video software
        solution for tablets

Who was first? Others have called out Polycom for making this false claim.  While Vidyo was both first to demo multipoint video conferencing on a mobile device (January 2010 in Paul Otellini’s CES keynote) as well as deliver multi-party videoconferencing on a smartphone and tablet, the real issue for enterprise decision makers is not about who is first, but about who can deliver a complete solution. With the memory of Steve Jobs still in sharp focus, I’m reminded that it is not about a specific product, but about delivering for the user the most satisfying effortless experience.

With the memory of Steve Jobs still in sharp focus, I’m reminded that it is not about a specific product, but about delivering for the user the most satisfying effortless experience.

In videoconferencing, porting an application to run on a device is only a small part of the requirement—this just delivers the potential for a personal video communication device. Having an intuitive UI for entering and interacting within a videoconference is another part of the experience. But the most important aspect is the actual video interaction that makes the communication experience natural and engaging. The challenge is that mobile devices use wireless networks—WiFi, 3G or 4G—and packets will be dropped and bandwidth may be limited as well as highly variable. And, an enterprise quality solution must be capable of multi-party conferences that enable communication with other mobile devices as well as desktop and room system participants who may encode at far higher resolutions.

Delivering on this challenge requires a completely different infrastructure architecture than what is offered by the old market leaders such as Polycom whose MCU architecture was designed for perfect connectivity such as provided by ISDN, and has now developed Band-Aid approaches including Forward Error Correction, Loss Packet Recovery and others to deal with the Wireless.Wild.West non-guaranteed QoS bandwidth. The result is lackluster performance and increased overhead that further exacerbates the challenging network conditions.

And the bad news gets worse for legacy MCU architectures when it comes to multipoint. When you have a mobile device interacting with another mobile device and an HD room system, the MCU transcodes and gives the gift of additional latency. Since it must transcode to enable disparate devices to be in the same multiparty meeting, it degrades the video quality in the process as well as adds delay. The problem is that for a natural interaction to occur on a mobile device, there just is not any time available for transcoding. Sure you can do it, but the experience is no longer satisfying. You’ll speak over each other, develop a tendency to pause before speaking, and other unnatural behaviors that will make you long for just a phone call or in-person meeting. Clearly, not an “Apple-quality” solution.

Vidyo was built with mobile devices in mind. Vidyo pioneered the use of the recent video compression standard—H.264 SVC— in video conferencing because it enables a latency-free way to adapt to packet loss.  Vidyo created an architecture that intelligently routes packets to each participant’s device based upon the resolution required, computational capability and bandwidth available, and to do so by dynamically adapting many times a second to changing conditions. And in a multiparty conference, it does this without transcoding so it maintains original video quality and adds less than 10msec delay because it makes packet routing decisions with no need to perform complex computational gymnastics. The user experiences natural HD quality multiparty videoconferencing that is engaging.

While this alone differentiates the Vidyo solution, the win for an enterprise deployment is that the Vidyo infrastructure can be deployed for 10% of the cost of the old Polycom MCU architecture. A single 1U VidyoRouter device can support 100 simultaneous participants. VidyoRouters can be geographically deployed to minimize bandwidth consumption. Since Vidyo is a software solution with central capacity license management, the full pool of licenses is available to all VidyoRouters as needed. The result is a dramatically lower number of licenses required to be purchased. And best of all, Vidyo only needs non-guaranteed QoS networks including internal bandwidth. The cost savings of moving away from dedicated video networks may pay for the entire Vidyo infrastructure!

So maybe this is why Polycom resorts to a misleading announcement. It craves for leadership, but it’s saddled with an old architecture that just can’t.

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Marty Hollander

Marty Hollander is Vidyo’s SVP of Market Development. With more than 20 years of high-tech marketing experience, Marty specializes in developing lasting strategic assets through creative market development. Previously, Marty served as Vice President of Marketing at Cemaphore Systems, Latitude Communications (later acquired by Cisco) and ProactiveNet (later acquired by BMC). He also founded CollectiveSpace and IntelliCorp, where he played a variety of executive roles. Marty has also held senior level positions at Silicon Graphics and Storm Technology. Marty earned an MBA from Stanford University as well as an MS from Carnegie-Mellon University.

 

Video Conferencing on the iPad, iPhone and Android Tablets and Smartphones

While VidyoMobile makes it possible to participate in unbelievably high quality multi-party video conferences over the broadband mobile network while you’re barreling down the highway, only do so from the passenger seat! Texting while driving has become a significant road hazard and is responsible for countless accidents—and texting has very limited engagement.  Just imagine how much more difficult it would be to concentrate on driving if you had a natural HD video interaction that made it feel like the participants were sitting in the car with you.

But there are so many other “safe” ways to use VidyoMobile that improves your flexibility to meet people face-to-face, and independently of whether the “far-end” participants are using mobile devices, laptop or desktop computers, SVC or H.323 appliance based room systems, or immersive telepresence systems. Assuming the iPad2 as the platform (and it really is a video conferencing endpoint in tablet clothing), there are three compelling modalities for the use of VidyoMobile.

Desktop Video Phone

VidyoMobile on a docked iPad 2 joining an HD multipoint video conference at 720p with 4 other laptops. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

One of the nice things about using popular commercially available devices is ready access to low cost and very cool peripherals. Using an off-the-shelf speaker dock, VidyoMobile can turn your iPad2 into a very handy desktop video phone with a slim foot print.  This enables the user to have a stable hands-free experience with rich audio.  Since VidyoMobile supports shared content viewing and the neat zoom in/ zoom out pinch gestures provided by iOS, the collaborative experience is compelling.  And of course, when you are not VidyoConferencing, you can use it to add music to your work environment.

Mobile Access

VidyoMobile on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 viewing a shared PowerPoint presentation while joining a multipoint video conference with 4 other laptops. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

Not all mobility happens in cars.  Could be that a doctor wants to walk down the hall to pick up lab results, in which case she could just pull the VidyoMobile device off of the dock and take the conference with her.  Since VidyoMobile on the iPad2 offers the ability to switch between front and rear facing cameras, mobility also means delivering “see what I see” capability into a conference. For a customer support specialist who is showing an engineer in a remote lab a problem on customer site, a process engineer who wants to show the design house a manufacturability issue on the production line, or a biologist in the field showing a rare plant life to a life sciences class half way around the world, this is mobility at its best.  Of course, mobility may also mean face to face interaction from the back of a cab, on board a train or in an airport.

Ad-hoc Room System

VidyoMobile on iPad 2 joining an HD multipoint video conference at 720p with 4 other laptops and a room system. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

Did you know that there is an optional HDMI dongle for the iPad2?  Even better, the dongle also supports simultaneous connection to power.  So now the same device that you are able to use in a dock as a desktop video phone, and then undock and continue to use in-transit, can now connect to a large screen 1080P display when you get to your destination so that multiple people can participate in the conference from the same location as the VidyoMobile device.  While the conference room is certainly a popular application, just image taking a meeting or connecting with friends and family from your couch with the conference on your living room TV.

So remember, even though VidyoMobile simplifies the user experience to a screen tap to enter a conference with no devices to configure or manage, please don’t video conference while behind the wheel of a car.  There are plenty of other safe and productive ways and opportunities to use VidyoMobile. Besides, with the ability to meet face-to-face with anyone, anytime, from anywhere, you’ll have less reason to be behind the wheel of your car in the first place.

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More info:

- VidyoMobile demonstration on iPad 2: View on YouTube.
- Full VidyoMobile press release: “Vidyo HD Multipoint Video Conferencing App for iPad2, iPhone Available Now”

Enabling Communication For Limited-English Speaking People in Healthcare and Education

Applications drive the use of technology. The success of the Apple i-product range is mostly driven by the 350,000 apps which are easily accessible. I have always been driven by the application philosophy in my own business of providing solutions to small and medium organizations. So I was excited when Roberto Fonts approached us to partner in a new service to provide language interpretation using video conferencing over the Internet.

Fonts’ company, Dialog One, is already established as a leading provider of phone and face to face interpretation but he saw shortcomings of these approaches in certain circumstances. For example in hospitals – getting an accurate diagnosis with a limited English speaking person usually needs more than just simple language translation. Being able to see the body language of the patient or for them to be able to point at the problem area can be key to enabling the doctor to get a quick and accurate assessment of the problem.

The service (Dialog One Video Interpreter, known as Dovi) allows customers to interact face to face with accredited language experts through a video conference interpretation over the Internet. The service is initially targeted at the healthcare and educational markets in Minnesota but will expand nationally over time.

“We have seen a continuously expanding need for language interpretation as the population becomes more language-diverse,” said Roberto Fonts, founder and President of Dialog One. “Schools and hospitals often need full-time staff to help conversations between staff, student, parents and patients but the problem is how to cover the number of languages now prevalent in Minnesota. Also there is a wide range of cultural differences and that is where we realized that the use of video can improve overall communication effectiveness. We researched the available technologies and chose Vidyo as the most cost effective, easy-to-use solution with the proven high definition that we need to make this service effective,” Fonts added. “Then we chose Phenomenal to be our technology partner so that we could focus on the interpretation.”

“We hear from Healthcare providers that they need to lower their interpreter service costs and get more work done.” said Fonts. “Using interpreters through video conferencing is faster and offers more flexibility. Customers pay only for the actual interpreter minutes being used rather than paying the industry standard 2 hour minimum for a 20-minute conversation. They are interested in faster response during and after business hours, weekends and holidays. They are looking for real solutions to their language barriers.”

Dovi customers often use a cart-based system that can be wheeled anywhere in the facility using wireless Internet connection.

Dovi is simple to use: the healthcare or education customer provides the computer hardware, web camera, a USB speakerphone all connected through a broadband connection to the Internet. They are often using a cart-based system that can be wheeled anywhere in the facility using wireless Internet connection. This way they can maintain maximum flexibility and lower cost.

Dovi also has a simple online procurement tool so that clients can schedule their video cultural mediation/interpretation session using secure login credentials. The user gets a confirmation email with the link to the video conference room for the interpretation session. Initially the service covers the dominant languages here in Minnesota including Somali, Hmong and Spanish but eventually will expand to the full 150 languages that Dialog One offers in their standard telephone and in-person translations.

Security and privacy are always major concerns for any communications and we have planned a high level of both data and voice communication security into the service. The high level of encryption available with Vidyo systems is a big selling point to meeting the strict regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and other privacy laws. We are all concerned about cost savings, improved services and better outcomes in all areas of Healthcare and Education. With Dovi and other associated applications, we can see improvements for all areas. One of the major cost problems is miss-diagnosis and minimizing this as well as providing a more comfortable environment for a limited-English speaking patient can create major cost savings.

So can businesses afford new solutions? The Holy Grail in this industry is achieving rapid ROI. The use of Dovi requires little to no investment in hardware technology & network to the end user. The concept is simple, and the user gets the experience of an onsite interpreter using video conferencing at the low cost of over-the-phone services. The ROI is quickly realized and the communication experience is heightened.

Also many of our customers see that, just like the iPad phenomenon, the Vidyo solution is a good general base technology on which to “stack” applications. So in addition to enabling language interpretation, the same system may also be used for general meeting teleconferencing, training, telemedicine and many other remote communication needs. The ability to go one-on-one or many-to-many gives great flexibility and, of course, strong cost justification.

…… and the service can also be used on iPads.

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Dave Shepherdson

Dave Shepherdson and wife Colleen sold their successful business in South Africa and moved to Minnesota in 2001. An advanced IT communications reseller/distributor, their company was rated in the Top 20 private businesses focusing on products from vendors like Lucent and Alcatel. They started Phenomenal Networks in 2001. In addition to being a Cisco Premier partner, the company became one of the first certified Vidyo resellers in 2008. Vidyo customers are currently mostly in the Healthcare and Education markets. As COO of Phenomenal, Dave brings 30 years of technology experience to identifying future business trends and advanced technology solutions.

Vidyo wins Frost & Sullivan Video Conferencing Award

Vidyo was honored tonight as the recipient of the  2011 winner of the Frost & Sullivan Global Product Differentiation Excellence Award for Videoconferencing Infrastructure Systems.

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices team of industry experts presents awards to companies demonstrating best practices in a variety of regional and global markets.  These Best Practices Awards recognize the superior planning and execution of product launches, strategic alliances, distribution strategies, technological innovations, customer service, and mergers and acquisitions. A host of other crucial marketing factors such as leadership, strategy, service, innovation, integration, and development are also considered as part of the award methodology.

“In a marketplace defined by technological advancements, Vidyo has been at the forefront of innovation, launching products that have positioned the company for growth,” said Roopam Jain, Industry Director, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Frost & Sullivan.  “In terms of innovation, technical excellence, scalability and adaptability to varied videoconferencing environments, the VidyoConferencing suite of solutions is impressive and market disruptive. Vidyo’s technology allows new entrants a low barrier of entry to create new, differentiated and cost-effective applications at a desired price performance.”

Young-Sae Song, Vidyo VP of Product Marketing and Art Robbins, president of Frost & Sullivan's North American operations

Vidyo is seeing success based on new and innovative products that address end user pain points. In its best practices report on Vidyo, Frost & Sullivan cites that currently, several products in Vidyo’s portfolio – the VidyoRouter, VidyoRouter Cloud Edition, VidyoPanorama and VidyoMobile enjoy a “first mover advantage” in terms of a high quality solution at a reasonable price point, “clearly jettisoning Vidyo to a prominent position in the fast growing videoconferencing market.”

For more information, you can read the full press release and check out Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Research report on Vidyo.

 

Vidyo Wins Large Telemedicine Network Deal

The world is changing… and there is, perhaps, no better evidence of the shift in global macro conditions and demographics than in the area of healthcare.  An aging population in western countries, rising medical costs, the push for ubiquitous service offerings to rural areas, the evolution of broadband Internet and mobile broadband, are but a few pronounced changes.  To address these changes, there is a need for innovative technology to meet a variety of new needs and provide better products and services to healthcare practitioners.  Perhaps, above all, these changes demand a shift in the way healthcare is delivered, lower costs and enhanced access to high quality care.

Since we first introduced Vidyo for Healthcare 15 months ago, we have met and worked with many visionary individuals and healthcare groups who are dedicated to furthering telemedicine practices in their respective regions.  Our most recent partnership has been with the Ontario Telemedicine Network, an enterprise that has been pioneering province-wide telemedicine programs for many years. Through this experience, OTN developed a sophisticated management system that covers all aspects of a large scale telemedicine deployment.

Today, with the integration of Vidyo’s technology into their products, OTN is now able to expand its reach beyond their existing thousands of sites to remote clinics, doctors’ home offices and patient homes, adding in the missing link for a complete and comprehensive telemedicine solution, fully integrated and interoperable with their existing managed environment that is based on legacy video conferencing systems.

Vidyo is enabling OTN and other medical organizations to achieve a necessary new level in the delivery of healthcare.  Other partners who are embracing Vidyo for Healthcare include:

Vidyo for Healthcare is a true breakthrough in TeleHealthcare, allowing practitioners to accomplish what could never be done before.  It is the only market solution that affordably extends the reach of healthcare beyond traditional facilities to anywhere with Internet access, connecting practitioners and patients interactively via “off-the-shelf” computers and mobile devices.  We are truly excited to be part of the next generation of global healthcare solutions.

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Amnon Gavish, Vidyo's SVP of Vertical Solutions

Amnon Gavish brings more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications market. Before joining Vidyo in October 2009, Amnon was the Chief Technology Officer at Keisense Inc., an innovator in the field of textual user interface for Computer Electronics devices. Previously, he served as VP of Business Development at RADVISION, where he was responsible for the company’s strategic partnerships and for the definition of the company’s product offering to the service providers market. Amnon was the CEO and co-Founder of Surf Communications, where he was responsible for all activities, from product inception, through go-to-market strategy, strategic partnerships and sales.

Overcoming Network Limitations for Universal Video Conferencing

The promise of video conferencing offers benefits that are appealing to almost any company:  employees can collaborate across geographies and time zones without the need to travel, saving companies money and improving the work life balance.   As a result, employees are happier and more productive.  Although the adoption of video conferencing has steadily increased, one of the key constraints has been particularly difficult to overcome to make video conferencing a truly universal tool that can be used by any employee in a company.  Vidyo’s Adaptive Video Layering overcomes this critical constraint to deliver universal video conferencing.

Despite the promise, when it comes down to real life deployments, video conferencing faces a basic problem when trying to achieve universal availability.  Video conferencing requires a high quality broadband connection, and this just cannot be achieved cost effectively in all cases.  High quality can be defined as a connection that delivers high enough bandwidth to avoid congestion or one where the priority of the traffic can be controlled.  This requirement can significantly increase the cost of a video conferencing deployment by requiring a business class service with MPLS for quality of service (QoS).  Although pricing may vary from carrier to carrier, the average price for a nationwide MPLS service adds approximately $100* per month for a T1 access circuit.  For a 100 site deployment, that’s an additional $10,000 per month in added operational expense.

Over the past 10 years, companies have redesigned their data and communications infrastructure to leverage the cost advantages of IP networks.  The TDM networks of the past consisted of network silos where a separate network was built out for each individual application or service.  With IP convergence, a common IP transport is leveraged with multiple applications leveraging the common infrastructure.  Ironically, the suggested approach to video conferencing from some of the larger vendors is to go backwards in time and build out a separate video conferencing network. Figure 1 below compares the different approaches to video conferencing and how Vidyo’s technology allows companies to further leverage the benefits of a converged IP network rather than building out an expensive overlay network.

Figure 1

There is no argument that video conferencing increases the bandwidth requirements of a network.  The traditional view has been to build out a separate overlay network designed to support the performance requirements of video.  Vidyo has taken a very different approach and created a technology that can actually adapt to the network itself.  Adaptive Video Layering optimizes a video stream based on the network characteristics and endpoint capabilities.  The significance of this innovation is that it allows any endpoint to become a video conferencing device, and it can work over a broadband connection starting at about 500 kbps.

With this approach, companies do not need to deploy expensive overlay networks using expensive business class services such as nxT1s with MPLS.  Rather, they can leverage the lowest cost broadband Internet access available including consumer grade xDSL or cable service.  This drastically changes the network economics of deploying a universal video conferencing solution that can be used by any employee.  High speed broadband is becoming more and more widely available.  However, solutions from the traditional video conferencing vendors work best with business class bandwidth of approximately 3 to 5 Mpbs, which is just not available cost effectively everywhere.  Vidyo has taken on this challenge with its patented Adaptive Video Layering to make high definition video conferencing not just a promise for the future but a promise with concrete benefits that can be delivered to every employee today.

Source:

*Industry analysis from carrier pricing from ILECs and CLECs.

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Young-Sae Song

Young-Sae is Vidyo’s vice president of product and channel marketing. He has over 10 years of experience in the networking and telecommunications industry.  He joined Vidyo from Covad Communications, where he developed and introduced nationwide Ethernet and MPLS services.   Prior to Covad, Young-Sae worked at leading networking and software vendors such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Microsoft.  He also served executive clients in the financial services, telecommunications and manufacturing industries, focusing on strategy formulation, service operations and organization restructuring as a management consultant at Booz & Company.  


Cisco’s InfoComm Announcements – What Were They Thinking?

Cisco made a big deal about a set of Telepresence announcements on June 14th that in any other industry would have been labeled as “bug fixes” and “playing catch up”. These announcements put into question how much in touch is Cisco with the industry or perhaps, Cisco thinks that their customers are unaware of what is going on in the market outside of “CiscoVille”.

According to Cisco: MX200 is Priced to Scale

Cisco introduces an HD videoconferencing room system endpoint for $21,600. At that price, it includes a 42” screen delivering 720p at 60 fps. What is amazing is that every other significant videoconferencing room system manufacturer has had lower priced, higher performance solutions available for years!

OK, it will natively connect to a $300,000 Cisco TP room without transcoding. But recognize that there is NO IMMERSIVE experience when the MX200 is involved in the meeting. It is just an HD videoconferencing room system. And if you want 1080p, rather than 720p, that upgrade will cost you even more!

To be fair, the real value is that it includes a monitor stand and is ready to run in just 15 minutes. For that wonderful convenience, Cisco views that its customers are willing to pay a tremendous premium for a run-of-the-mill HD videoconferencing room system. What game do they think they are playing?

According to Cisco: Telepresence Conductor Simplifies Multiparty Video Communications

Cisco customers have really needed this product for a long time—too bad that they still need to wait for the scheduled release in December. With this announcement, Cisco is admitting to the following:

  1. Customers want to have ad hoc meetings without having to schedule infrastructure resources.
  2. A hardware-based infrastructure creates a fixed limit on the number of multiparty participants.
  3. Smart meeting organizers reserve more hardware ports than they require just in case additional participants need to join. This practice guarantees unused, but yet unavailable hardware ports.
  4. A “switching” videoconferencing infrastructure architecture for telepresence combined with a “transcoding” MCU architecture for rooms and desktops causes an administrative nightmare.

People who use web conferencing, audio conferencing or VidyoConferencing will wonder how on earth anyone lives with these needless restrictions. Well, Cisco has realized that this complexity is getting unbearable for their customers, and risks Cisco’s ability to be competitive. In the very near future, Cisco customers will find more videoconferencing users who want to connect from personal devices—personal computers, tablets or smartphones—so Cisco has announced that Conductor will fix these problems. That is good news for 2012 planned upgrades.

If you look below the surface of Conductor to understand the problem it tries to solve, you begin to see the complexity caused by having different video infrastructure architectures.

  1. Cisco gives you a “switching architecture” for ensuring the low latency telepresence experience for the CTS Series endpoints.
  2. A more affordable “MCU architecture” provides transcoding to attach endpoints to a multiparty video conference, but needed ports may not be available.
    - A customer may have different MCU versions with some having SD hardware ports, and others having HD hardware ports that must be matched to the meeting requirements
    - MCUs may be physically located in a different geography than where the resources are needed at any time during the day.

So Cisco’s solution to addressing the administrator’s nightmare is to sell the Cisco Telepresence Conductor and remove the administrator from having to handle all of the choice management complexity. Since the hardware was inherently underutilized prior to Conductor, Cisco hopes that a customer can justify this new purchase on the basis that Conductor will hopefully better utilize the legacy architecture resources. Cisco realizes that without Conductor this nightmare is not sustainable as administrators face increased demand for more multiparty connections as users move to personal communication devices.

What is most surprising is that Cisco views these announcements as wonderful news for the industry! Putting a Band-Aid on Cisco’s high cost, high complexity, multipoint infrastructure with additional costly add-ons is not something most companies would proudly announce. But Cisco must view that with enough positive spin, customers will continue to be happy to buy Cisco, and pay more knowing that they are making the SAFE choice. But beware, not everyone plays CiscoVille (apologies to Zynga if this analogy is upsetting)

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Marty Hollander

Marty Hollander is Vidyo’s Senior Vice President, Market Development. With more than 20 years of high-tech marketing experience, Marty specializes in developing lasting strategic assets through creative market development. Previously, Marty served as Vice President of Marketing at Cemaphore Systems, Latitude Communications (later acquired by Cisco) and ProactiveNet (later acquired by BMC). He also founded CollectiveSpace and IntelliCorp, where he played a variety of executive roles. Marty has also held senior level positions at Silicon Graphics and Storm Technology. Marty earned an MBA from Stanford University as well as an MS from Carnegie-Mellon University.