A recent report from Transparency Market Research indicates that the Video Conferencing Market  valued at US$ 3.31 Bn in 2013 is Expected to Reach US$ 6.40 Bn by 2020 Globally. The growth doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone involved in the industry, but the numbers are impressive nevertheless.

Driven by the savings in business travel and increased productivity through greater collaboration and utilizing remote workers, companies are reaping the benefits of Video Conferencing and deploying on-premise solutions on a large scale, offering both managed and self service  model to its clients.

The Video conference self-services have been particularly interesting as they lower operational costs but also tend to increase utilization as the technology becomes more easier to use. At the core of a self-service solution lies a so called “Virtual Meeting Room”.

 What is a Virtual Meeting Room?

A Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) is an online collaboration place where people can communicate over video. Participants usually join by dialling a specific number or an address with a simple name like John-VMR@company.com. Once created the Virtual Meeting Room is permanent and can receive calls at anytime, although the host usually controls access to the VMR with a host PIN.

So far there have been two most common challenges with the VMR self service solution – interoperability and resources. Resources represent the number of participants that can join a video call at the same time, this is provided by a device sitting in the background called a MCU (Multipoint Control Unit) or a video bridge. Historically these devices were hardware based and usually cost a lot of money, all that is now changing with the introduction of so called software based MCUs.

Interoperability refers to the ability to join a VMR no matter what technology the participant is using – Cisco, Polycom, Microsoft Lync, software or hardware based endpoint, presentation sharing… Couple of years ago it was almost unimaginable to have all of this in the same Video Conference, in today’s business world  it’s a requirement.

Recently Acano and Pexip have been of interest to companies who want to deploy scalable on-premise videoconferencing solution, especially a self-service based model through a VMR. Founded by Tandberg/Cisco alumni, both vendors are coming with innovative approach and attractive features to tackle some of the most common challenges in videoconferencing today.

Acano

Acano unites previously incompatible audio, video and web technologies in coSpaces virtual meeting rooms, only radically better.”

People can use whatever devices they have to call into a coSpace, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs, Microsoft Lync/Skype clients and video endpoints. Designed for the x86 architecture, it can run on Acano hardware appliance, standard servers, as well as in virtualized environments and can support thousands of users per server, with further scale and resilience provided by native clustering and distributed architecture. Major video standards are supported and integrates with existing infrastructure including Cisco UCM and Microsoft Lync.

Pexip

Pexip Infinity is a virtualized scalable meeting platform enabling users to seamlessly collaborate across any video, audio or web conferencing platform or device.”

It can be deployed on industry-standard servers in a VMware virtualized environment and port capacity can be easily scaled up by adding more servers. Provides reliable distributed architecture that supports interoperability between all major industry standards and reduced bandwidth consumption across WANs.

The following table compares some of the features of these solutions:

Acano-Pexip-Comparison-Table-Matrix-UC-Video-Conferencing-Software-VMR-Virtual-Room

Although Acano and Pexip are not the only companies offering software-based video conferencing solutions, they certainly stand out with their rich feature set. It’s a very fast paced industry where things change by the minute, both Acano and Pexip are constantly upgrading their product and introducing new capabilities, will they stand the test of time?

Photo credit: Bob Mical