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Vidyo Provides Cloud-based Video Interop for Free - Why it's Revolutionary and How the Others Stack Up

July 23, 2012 | Howard Lichtman

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Ofer Shapiro, CEO of videoconferencing provider Vidyo, is disruptive.  He usually preys on other videoconferencing vendors making their lives difficult with a constant flow of innovations like H.264 SVC which improves videoconferencing on lossy networks like the internet, his low-cost, high-quality, virtualized VidyoRouter approach to multi-point, and Vidyo's overall lightweight software / cloud-based architecture. Now Ofer has decided to go and disrupt an entire different segment of the market: Videoconferencing Cloud Service Providers.

Market participants include Blue Jeans Network, Glowpoint, Teliris, and Vidtel and they make their revenue simplifying and connecting videoconferencing calls.  The most sophisticated are virtualizing the multi-point and inter-operability functionality needed for multiple participants in software and enabling their solutions to run on relatively inexpensive dedicated servers or cloud-computing services run by Amazon, Rackspace, and others vs. traditional, expensive hardware-based solutions. The best layer on some i-Pad and App-flavored ease-of-use, solve interoperability with consumer services like Skype and Google, and charge you per minute rates for the privilege. Or at least that use to be the model... until Ofer just started doing it for free.

Vidyo is rolling out a cloud-based multi-point and interoperability service called VidyoWay and is making the service free

What is the scoop? 

1.    VidyoWay does not work with free clients like Skype or Google Voice Chat. Think of it as free bridging for people who paid for VC clients. It is free but you must own videoconferencing endpoints/client(s) sold by Vidyo or a Vidyo competitor (Polycom, Cisco, LifeSize, Radvision, Lync, etc).

2.    Vidyo's goal is to put Vidyo solutions on an even playing field with  competitors by eliminating the bridging market without hurting endpoint sales. The company is leveraging their virtualized Vidyo router  and racking & stacking Vidyo Gateway capabilities to support the call volume.

3.    VidyoDesktop is not free or included. They aren't giving the entire world free videoconferencing, they are giving away free bridging/interop to anyone who owns a Vidyo or H.323 endpoint, expecting this to greatly increase the endpoint market where they will be doing battle.

4.    VidyoMobile is free and can be used with VidyoWay. They are, in fact, giving away free mobile videoconferencing with interop to H.323 to the world.

5.    In terms of inviting outsiders to meetings, with BlueJeans / Vidtel if you want to include someone who doesn't own a paid client, they can just use Skype/Google. With VidyoWay, outsiders can call in as guests on VidyoDesktop (free trial)  or with the VidyoMobile app.

6.    Still no truly free lunch. If you want to use a free desktop client (Skype, Google VC) you have to pay for a BlueJeans/Vidtel "Meet Me" room. If you want to use a free VidyoWay Meet Me room, you have to have/pay for a video endpoint or client or get a free trial of Vidyo Desktop.

This is version 1.0 for VidyoWay but an important shot-across-the-bow for companies that are forecasting high revenues for multi-point & interoperability services when a vendor steps forward and turns these services on for free.  Vidyo steps in decisively, fills an immediate need in a way that benefits their customers and non-customers alike, and leaves themselves a lot of room for future innovation if they choose to go that way.

Here is a bit of basic analysis comparing the various services:

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Defining Terms
Cloud-based: Hosted over the public internet. No on-prem bridging hardware or QoS network required.
"Meet Me" Rooms: Any supported endpoint / client can call into the room ad-hoc.
Meeting Moderation: Admin/Host features which may include: Muting participants, locking the room, switching presenters, etc.
iPad / Mobile Support: May be via proprietary client, or supported 3rd party client (i.e. Skype).
Vendor Agnostic H.323: Support for Cisco, LifeSize, Polycom, Radvision/Avaya, etc.

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