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Blue Jeans Network Beats Microsoft To Lync, Skype Connection

November 11, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
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Cloud-based videoconferencing service will demo ability to connect Skype, Lync, and room-based systems from Cisco, Polycom, Logitech LifeSize, and others at Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

By Robert Mullins InformationWeek November 10, 2011 -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that with the company's acquisition of Skype, the software giant will be able to integrate the Skype Web-based voice and videoconferencing service into its Lync unified communications platform. Less than a month after the close of the $8.5 billion acquisition, little Blue Jeans Network has already beaten Microsoft to it.

Blue Jeans Network, a cloud-based videoconferencing service, on Thursday announced that it is able to join videoconference participants via Lync and via Skype, as well as those participating via room-based systems from Cisco Systems, Polycom, Logitech LifeSize, and others. The company will demonstrate the capability next week at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Nobody else in the world can currently take a user on Microsoft Lync and a user on Skype and put them together into one single meeting," said Stu Aaron, Blue Jeans chief commercial officer. The company launched its cloud-based videoconferencing service in June, claiming that it can join participants on any system on any device from anywhere. All the user needs is a device with a Web browser, an Internet connection, and a built-in video camera.

Subscribers are charged a certain amount of money for a specific number of minutes per month, just like a wireless phone plan. Only the host needs to have an account with Blue Jeans, not guests.

While Microsoft has yet to announce an integration of Lync and Skype since the acquisition closed Oct. 13, it is clearly on the company's roadmap, Ballmer said. "Lync ... with Skype is a strategy that I think will allow the consumerization of IT to really proceed with full vim and vigor," he said at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 in Los Angeles in July. "We think we're going to be able to do even more fantastic things together."

But because Blue Jeans is browser-based, participants running any system can join the same meeting, said Aaron.

Blue Jeans calls its offering a "Meet Me" service, as do other vendors, because participants are sent an email prior to a meeting with a Web link. At the appointed time, participants all click on the link and they all appear onscreen for the meeting. They can join from any H.323-compliant system or Skype--as well as the comparable Google Talk--and they can join from a studio, a desktop, tablet computer, or a smartphone.

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