What Cloud Video Conferencing Services / Vendors Are Available?
There are plenty of Cloud Video Conferencing services available, but not all services are the same. The vendors usually fall into several categories, namely:
TRADITIONAL MANAGED SERVICE – Long before Cloud was available there were a few brands who would provide multiparty meeting services for ISDN connections and IP. Companies such as BT and BCS Global fall into this category. These services are/were often “white gloved” insofar that they arranged, set up and managed the calls/meetings end to end. Largely they are all but redundant since the advent of easy to use, reservationless and self-managed Cloud services.
RESELLER CLOUD SERVICES – Like the managed services above, many resellers have set up their own Cloud/managed service by investing in their own infrastructure equipment and providing virtual meeting rooms or time slots on their equipment to their own customers. Usually, they are using standards based infrastructure located in a geographically local data centre and presented at a reasonable cost. Note, however, they are likely not to be a global service, with fault tolerance or redundancy built in and were likely not designed as a ground up Video Conferencing Cloud service. Some may offer some of the elements I have ruled out here, but not all. Note that third party hardware or room based systems will be required here.
NO FRILLS VIRTUAL MEETING ROOMS – Often pay as you go, these VMRs tend not to be standards based and require connections using their own software apps, but offer a low-cost alternative to business class products. Problems such as interoperability with certain vendor’s equipment may be an issue here. Vendors such as GoToMeeting and PowWowNow fit into this category.
HYBRID SOLUTIONS – Some vendors are offering a hybrid Cloud that still requires some level of infrastructure installed on premise OR the rental of some equipment in their own Cloud. Some level of management is required with these offerings and may not be suitable for those customers who wish for a hands-off approach. These solutions use third party vendor, standards based systems.
CLOUD VIDEO CONFERENCING VENDORS – A new category of recent years is the Cloud VC Vendor. These are global companies that are providing a full solution with appropriate redundancy, management and price models. Interoperability is covered, even for Skype for Business in some cases and they will have their own apps for computers & tablets and potentially a browser based product too that requires no download. Furthermore, the vendors in this category do not rely on other vendor’s room based systems. Rather they have their own that are optimised for the Cloud, easy to use and remotely managed and upgraded with no intervention or management required from the user. It is likely all those above are striving to be in this model. At the time or writing, only StarLeaf and LifeSize fit this category although Polyom’s Cloud service sold via some of their channel base is very close albeit sold as a Reseller/Distributor Cloud Service as described above.