Publication Name: CRN Magazine
Date: January 2015
Cut costs, save travel time, speed up decision making? Obviously. But today’s video conferencing solutions are also accessible via mobiles and can be used as a PoC
As more organizations look at cutting costs, one technology that is gaining momentum is video conferencing (VC).
Organizations have started realizing that VC, especially in internal communication and collaboration, has started delivering value. As a result, investments in network devices, connectivity and VC hardware are becoming easier to justify.
Agrees Gaurav Sharma, Research Manager, Enterprise Computing, IDC, “With the advent of cloud- and mobility-based solutions, VC adoption is sure to increase because of reduced costs, ease of integration and inter-operability benefits. As part of a larger collaboration solution, VC will find more acceptance.”
According to IDC, the total Indian VC market, which stood at $44.4 million in 2013, will grow at a CAGR of 5 percent between 2014 and 2018.
“With the advent of cloud- and mobility-based solutions, VC adoption will increase because of reduced costs, ease of integration and inter-operability benefits”
Gaurav Sharma, Research Manager, Enterprise Computing, IDC
To address the growing demand of Indian customers for reasonably-priced, flexible and scalable VC solutions, vendors are investing in developing innovative solutions that can be implemented and operationalized at minimal cost and with minimum effort. The focus is on building comprehensive, plug-and-play solutions to ensure fast integration with legacy infrastructure.
Comments Nupur Singh Andley, Analyst, Forrester Research, “These intelligent solutions are based on smart protocols and so are capable of automatically detecting the network strength during the conference and adjusting the session output as per the bandwidth availability. This feature is important in India where bandwidth coverage continues to be weak and inconsistent in many areas.”
Manufacturers have now begun to create powerful codecs that could securely transmit, encode and decode video at very high quality using protocols such as H.323 and SIP. The adoption of video has increased further as the capabilities of PCs, tablets and mobile devices have improved to allow them to process multi-party video, VoIP and live-data sharing. Shyam Ananthnarayan, VP, Marketing, Product Engineering Business, Tata Elxsi, points out that with mobility coming to VC customers can join a conference with just a click on the mobile app.
The focus of VC providers is therefore to bring together all new and existing technologies, hardware and software. One such example is the emerging software-based multi-point control unit that enables organizations to deploy software across their IT infrastructure and that enables individuals to have a personal HD video, audio and mobile meeting space.
Another case in point is Vintech Electronic Systems, which deployed the HP Intelligent Management Centre that enabled collaboration across two campuses of a hospital in Pune. “Today, critical patient information such as lab results, radiological images and the patients’ daily progress reports are available online to doctors on their tablets and smartphones. This has reduced file movement and helped the doctors to take quick decisions,” informs Chintamani Lele, Director, Vintech. Also, due to VC, the medical staff at both the locations can converse over video calls, thus saving travel time between the two campuses.
“Patient information is available to doctors on their tablets and smart phones. This has reduced file movement and helped the doctors to take quick decisions”
Chintamani Lele, Director, Vintech Electronic Systems
According to Laveen Hajela, Head, Channels & Distribution, India & Saarc, Polycom, the VC segment is driven by demand from the government, BFSI, IT-ITes, healthcare, education and SMB segments.
Vijay Wadhi, MD, Locuz Enterprise Solutions, Hyderabad, believes that VC adoption will explode because of the reduction in price-points. “Technology is becoming simpler and affordable. The smallest video end-point from Cisco or Huawei is priced between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The deployment is just plug-and-play.” Locuz has executed 25 VC projects for deal sizes averaging Rs 20 lakh.
“We have done a good number of VC projects with Lifesize and Cisco for the education, research and defense verticals,” informs Wadhi. “The largest project so far was worth Rs 40 crore where VC was used to connect more than 50 Coast Guard installations after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 26/11.”
VC has traditionally been a hardware-centric technology solution. However, over the past couple of years there has been a shift to interest in and demand for software- and services-based VC solutions. The new model is giving organizations more options, flexibility and cost savings with regard to how they implement and use the technology. Vendors, analysts and partners predict that three major trends—cloud, mobility and video-as-a-service (VaaS)— will drive VC demand in the near future.
According to IDC, in Q12014 the global cloud-based VC equipment market touched $473.5 million even while the overall VC equipment revenue decreased by 20 percent QoQ and 16 percent YoY.
“Rather than owning a solution, businesses are becoming more comfortable paying a monthly subscription fee and consuming VaaS,” remarks Wadhi. “VaaS also protects organizations from worrying about technology obsolescence and the ongoing costs of upgrades, maintenance and repairs.”
Meanwhile, Locuz has sold four Icon 600s—an end-point device which sits in a room and connects with a network—for Rs 3 lakh each. Wadhi says the savings for the customers were in terms of investments only for the end-points and not for the back-end infrastructure of VC platforms.
“Technology is now affordable. The smallest video end-point from Cisco or Huawei is priced between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The deployment is plug-and-play”
Vijay Wadhi, MD, Locuz Enterprise Solutions
“With higher adoption expected in the SMB segment there is additional opportunity for partners. At Dell we have tied up with Google and launched a Chrome-based VC solution targeted at small businesses,” informs Xavier Kuriyen, National Manager, Enterprise Solutions Product Marketing, Dell India.
Ananthnarayan says that browser-based, plug-in, free solutions will accelerate growth across different industries and applications. With the increase of bandwidth availability and the proliferation of fiber-based Internet connections VC is rapidly converging to be part of an expanding function within the scope of an ICT deployment.
“The industry will see movement from device-based deployment to cloud-based unified solutions that combine voice, video, content, social and messaging made available across multiple form-factor devices. We are also noticing a shift toward outcome-based requests from our customers,” says Sreedhar Venkatraman, Director, Sales Engineering, India & Saarc, Avaya.
A significant trend in the VC space is the advent of mobile VC features such as the ability to join and schedule a meeting directly from the mobile interface.
Explains Andley, “This not only offers flexibility to the user to communicate using the device of his choice, but also helps the company to promote the overall adoption of VC functionality across the organization and reduce the TCO of the VC solution by eliminating the need to build and maintain dedicated physical VC room infrastructure.”
Adds AL Srinath, MD, Shell Networks, Hyderabad, which has executed VC projects worth Rs 60 lakh over the last few years, “There’s no denying that BYOD is driving IT strategies in the workplace. Mobile devices make for very feasible VC end-points.”
“The industry will see movement from device-based to cloud-based unified solutions. We’re also noticing a shift toward outcome-based requests”
Sreedhar Venkatraman, Director, Sales Engineering, India & Saarc, Avaya
Opportunities for partners
Partners who have been offering traditional unified communications see VC as a natural progression. Srinath, who is focusing on the education and government verticals for VC, has deployed Skype and WebEx across Shell’s branches for internal use. “The VC not only saves travel costs but is also used as a PoC for potential customers.”
Shell has deployed VC solutions for several clients including the Maa Amruta University, CDAC and Capgemini. “Besides opportunities in networking, infrastructure and software licenses (WebEx), there are lots of opportunities in consultancy to develop video applications,” Srinath informs.
There is a need to increase awareness levels about the benefits of video conferencing in unified communication adoption.
“The challenges of poor broadband connectivity, high cost and complexity of end-user devices need to be addressed. What is needed is software and technology that enable high quality of video over standard broadband and 3G/4G connections across a heterogeneous device and network ecosystem,” concludes Ananthnarayan.