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TANDBERG Launches T3 Telepresence System and Announces Expanded Partnership with HP Halo with Howard Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

October 9, 2008 | Howard Lichtman
The TANDBERG T-3 with optional environmental package

TANDBERG has launched the TANDBERG T3, a six-seat telepresence group system that replaces the TANDBERG Experia.  The system is available as a modular system or with an optional environmental package that provides chairs and innovatively designed Nordic-blue light walls and lighting package that combine to make remote participants seem to "pop" off the screen.  The T-3's list price is $299,000 and the optional environmental kit starts at $39,000

TANDBERG Video showing the T-3 in Action

The TANDBERG T-3 uses the company's high definition 1080p C90 Codec which makes the system compatible with the single screen TANDBERG T-1 telepresence solution announced in June. The T-3 is also inter-operable with other standards-compliant videoconferencing and telepresence solutions. Running video at 1080p resolution the T-3 (and the T-1) use 3-4MBps per screen. The system also features a new touch sensitive control pad for call set up, call framing, and other conference controls. The T3 will be available in January 2009.   

The TANDBERG T-1 Telepresence System

The TANDBERG Telepresence Server

TANDBERG_Telepresence_server.jpgTANDBERG also announced the TANDBERG Telepresence Server (TS 8710), a telepresence and videoconferencing Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) designed specifically to support TANDBERG telepresence solutions as well as connect with other TANDBERG videoconferencing solutions and standards-compliant videoconferencing systems from other manufacturers.  The TS is based on the award wining telepresence and videoconferencing infrastructure offerings from Codian whom TANDBERG acquired in September of 2007.  The TS supports up to 144 screens/codecs of video at up to 6MBps per screen/codec.  The TS chassis supports up to nine blades that will each support up to 16 screens per blade.  The cost of each blade is $320,000 or $20,000 per screen/codec supported.  The basic chassis with AC power is $49,000 and will support a variety of additional blades including: High Definition and Standard Definition Videoconferencing Blades, ISDN Gateway Blades, and IP VCR Blades. Both the TS and Tandberg telepresence systems can be managed using the TANDBERG Management Suite.

The TS offers up to 5 different viewing modes specific to the multi-camera/codec requirements of telepresence solutions.

TANDBERG_Multiviews.jpgThe TS can connect multiple videoconferencing systems from multiple vendors on multiple networks (IP and ISDN) and combine these diverse systems into a single multi-point call.

TANDBERG and HP Halo Announce a New Managed Service Offering and Expanded Reseller Agreement. 

On October 7th TANDBERG and HP announced a global managed service offering that will make HP Halo's Managed Video Services including technical support, directory management and auto meeting initiation available for the full range of Tandberg conferencing solutions. The service will provide access to the HP Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN) at T1/E1, NxT1/E1, and T3 speeds and will connect end-points to Halo's growing telepresence and video conferencing Community of Interest Network.   HP Halo customers can now supplement their HP Halo Collaboration Studios with TANDBERG telepresence solutions, HD and SD video conferencing systems, and executive systems.  The service will also support telepresence and videoconferencing endpoints from other manufacturers.  The service will bundle help desk, network, and shared video network infrastructure into an all-inclusive fixed price service.

HP Halo Managed Video Service and TANDBERG - A Visual Overview 

The companies also announced an expanded partnership that will see HP's global sales organization reselling TANDGERG's complete line of telepresence and video communications offerings while TANDBERG will make the HP Halo Video Collaboration Service available to its customer base.  HP Halo will continue to sell its HP Halo Collaboration Solutions and will continue its R&D efforts in the field of telepresence. 

TANDBERG Says Talks with Private Equity Group End
In other TANDBERG news the company has announced that its talks with a private equity fund interested in purchasing the company has ended due to the turmoil in the financial markets, during which it has proved "impossible to achieve acceptable pricing and financing conditions".      

Human Productivity Lab President Howard S. Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

I have to begin with the caveat that I have not yet gotten a demo of the T3 yet.  Even though the Human Productivity Lab and TANDBERG's HQ for the Americas are neighbors on the Silicon Plantation of Northern Virginia, they are still setting up their T3 so it will be mid-October before I get completely experienced.  I have had a demo of the TANDBERG T-1 and since the T3 is essentially three T-1s artfully welded together I can share that the picture quality generated by the TANDBERG's C90 codec is superb, the design elegant, and the capabilities robust.

What I Liked
TANDBERG_C90_Codec.jpgThe C-90 Codec - 1080p, interoperable with standards based telepresence and videoconferencing endpoints, integrateable with the Tandberg Management Suite, and their recording and streaming platform.  

The Rest of the TANDBERG Product Line - Probably the most compelling feature of the new T3 is its compatability with the rest of the TANDBERG product line. From the single screen T1 to executive systems to Codian video network infrastructure to recording/archiving/streaming and management, TANDBERG offers all the pieces necessary to build a complete telepresence and visual collaboration capability for the enterprise.  These are capabilities that the overwhelming majority of TANDBERG's competitors can't touch.  

TANDBERG_Total_Video_Solutions.jpgMy Wish List

TANDBERG_Visible_Camera.jpgHide the Camera - Visible Cameras have an attendant psychological impact on attendees. People behave differently when they are on-camera so hiding or at least minimizing it is a no-brainer.

Future_HP_Halo.jpgLess Bezel and Seams - This may be whining on my part but I am longing for the day when we can put the three flat screen monitor approach to telepresence to death.  DVE's Tele-Immersion Room gives a glimpse of our seamless future today and HP Halo had a prototype for a seamless, lenticular screen working in HP Labs two years ago. I am waiting to see which vendor gets us out of the box first.   

Some Thoughts and Analysis on TANDBERG's Overall Strategy
For a company that was completely blind sided by the telepresence revolution and has been playing catch up ever since TANDBERG is finally starting to find their legs.  My experience with TANDBERG and telepresence goes back to Q3 2004 more than a year before HP Halo launched their offering and two years before Cisco launched theirs.  I was trying to put together an MBO of failing TeleSuite when it could have been had for less than $10MM bucks and couldn't even get 15 minutes of Andy Miller's time.  Note to CEOs: If someone wants to tell you about a competitive product that gets 5X the usage of yours in a market that Cisco and HP are about to enter perhaps you should have a listen.  I have been watching them get their lunch eaten ever since.  

Telepresence Endpoints - The T3 replaces the Experia which was essentially a "me too" offering that TANDBERG threw together at the last minute to counter HP Halo, Cisco, Teliris, and Polycom who all beat TANDBERG to market with multi-screen group systems. When Cisco launched their offering in October of 2006 and took the industry on a moonshot TANDBERG didn't even have a horse in the race.  It has been rumored that they have sold less than 75 Experia since the launch which is a somewhat decent for a new offering of this expense in a technology that has just begun climbing the adoption curve.  It is, however, a fraction of what has been sold by Cisco and HP who came into their market, redefined it, and kicked their ass with V1 products while TANDBERG spent a year trying to figure out what was going on and how to counter it.  The T3 with the C90 codec is a huge improvement over the Experia in resolution, styling, capabilities, and the environment.  While I haven't had a chance to play with new touchscreen and GUI, I am going to assume that there is probably a big improvement in ease-of-use as well.  

Video Network Infrastructure - Here is where TANDBERG has the advantage over the competition. In 2007 TANDBERG acquired Codian the leading manufacturer of vendor neutral HD video network infrastructure.  That acquisition allowed TANDBERG to lock up a vendor neutral platform that they could then tightly integrate with their endpoints and management platform AND took the largest and most sophisticated engineering team working on video network infrastructure off the market blocking some folks who are probably kicking themselves right now.  The TANDBERG/Codian platform is quickly becoming the defacto standard for telepresence and videoconferencing managed service providers who must manage multiple HD video streams and connectivity between multiple platforms.  I spoke with Pat Montani, the CEO of IP-V Gateways who hosts dozens of MCUs in his facility and matches QoS tagging on 27 different IP networks for real time video traffic. Pat's thoughts on the Codian: "The MCU is the heart of effectively inter-connecting telepresence with HD video conferencing and legacy ISDN systems.  The Codian is hands down the best MCU on the market and gives TANDBERG a competitive advantage by sitting right in the middle of where the value is created".  The release of the TANDBERG Telepresence Server is where you start to see the fruits of the Codian acquisition pay dividends in their telepresence line up.  The ability to create effective multi-point meetings that leverage telepresence's multi-screen format and bridge disparate legacy systems is powerful.  The T3 is sexy and has some sizzle but the Tandberg Telepresence Server is the steak in this announcement.   

The HP Halo Partnership and Managed Services - Here is another area where I have been disappointed with TANDBERG but where they finally seem to be moving the ball.  While other telepresence vendors like HP Halo, Polycom and Teliris have offered managed services from the beginning and even Cisco had channel partners like Tata/Glowpoint and WireOne that built managed service offerings around Cisco TelePresence in short order, TANDBERG has been slow to get into the game. Providers like Glowpoint and Nortel have supported TANDBERG endpoints but that is different than having an offering yourself and has especially limited their ability to play in the big game: Building an effective inter-company telepresence network of growing utility.   TANDBERG has had a relationship with HP Halo for 20 months which until this week has been rather disappointing.  It took them 8 months to make the HP Halo compatible with standards based videoconferencing systems and even then all they did was essentially rack a TANDBERG 6000 in the Halo environment.

The HP Halo HVEN Network  

Now they have a partnership to deliver managed video services over the HP HVEN network and a sales and marketing partnership to take these joint solutions to market.  I spoke with Darren Podrabsky from HP Halo and Stephen Vobbe and Hellene Garcia from TANDBERG  and they were quite bullish on the potential.  They claim the right sales incentives are in place for success.  The deal is quite positive because HP Halo has suffered by inheriting a product that DreamWorks essentially built for themselves without an eye towards replicability or interoperability.  The partnership with TANDBERG now gives them a wider variety of more capable end-points to fill up the HVEN network while TANDBERG gets a partner with a global network, global salesforce, and a telepresence Community of Interest Network that connects some of the biggest names in the Fortune 500. 

HP_Halo_CoIN_Members.jpgThe partnership announcement begs as many questions as it answers: What is going to ultimately happen to the HP Halo Product Line?  Why would anyone buy an SD HP Halo with 50" screens when they could get an HD T3 with 65" screens for less? Why would anyone buy a $120,000 single screen HP Halo Collaboration Centre when you could buy a more capable TANDBERG T-1 for $69,000? Will HP's superb GUI and innovatively integrated document camera make it over to the T3? What is going to happen with the next generation telepresence technologies that HP Labs was working on: seamless lenticular displays, 3D and multi-viewpoint imaging including stereo, linear and 2D camera arrays.  I have heard HP Labs jokingly referred to as "the graveyard where great technologies go to die"... Could the practically focused Norwegians at TANDBERG help resurrect this important work?   



Telepresence as "Economic Disaster Recovery"

Last week I spoke to a group of CTOs, CIOs, and others via video from the Silicon Plantation to Austin, Texas on the topic of: "Telepresence as Economic Disaster Recovery".  My talk was sponsored by telepresence and video inter-connection provider MASERGY Communications who I would like to thank for the opportunity. 

In my presentation I discussed strategies for how smart organizations can leverage telepresence and effective visual collaboration to prepare for rising costs, slowing sales, plummeting airlines,
imploding suppliers, and the very real possibility of a systemic financial meltdown.

Executive Summary:
Get costs down, productivity up, and improve your ability to
effectively collaborate with your branch offices, partners, vendors,
and customers globally in an economic environment where physical travel
is expensive and inefficient.

I discussed the ramification of the continuing collapse of commercial aviation and laid out strategies that smart organizations can take immediately to get prepped for a general business slowdown, depression, and/or a worse case scenario.   

This presentation will not be released on the Telepresence Options website so to get a copy please
sign up for our occasional newsletter the Telepresence Options Telegraph which we will be releasing next week. 

Telepresence People

Douglas Johnson, CEO of Telanetix, has been appointed Chairman of the Board

Brice Drogosch has joined Telanetix as Western Vice Regional Vice President of Video Sales

Steve Parrish has joined Telanetix as Eastern Region Vice President of Video Sales

Linda Bickelman has joined Telanetix as Director of Channel Development -- Video

David Murphy has been appointed Senior Vice President - Imaging and Printing Group at HP which includes the HP Halo division

Wayne McAllister has joined TANDBERG as Senior Vice President- Global Services

Wendy McIntire has joined Nortel Managed Services as Director of Multimedia Solutions Management

Scott Lee has joined On-Stream Media as Vice President, Business Development

Leonardo Freitas has joined Electrosonic as Associate Vice President of Product Development

Ramzi Shakra
has joined Electrosonic as Senior Marketing Manager

John Lytle has joined Nortel as Director of Global Services

Neil Suhre has joined Nortel as Training and Process Manager

Brandy Baxter has joined the HP Halo team as PR Manager

Deborah Linggi has joined the HP Halo team as Analyst Relations Manager

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