Latest Telepresence and Visual Collaboration News:
Wainhouse Research - News in Brief - September 16th
Avaya recently announced the latest version of its UC solution for small and midsize businesses. Avaya IP Office release 10 adds a number of benefits for businesses in terms of security, resiliency, and end user experience, as well as for the channel partners who serve them. Now, built-in signaling and media encryption for endpoints and UC clients helps preserve privacy and data integrity -- critical in any deployment, but especially in those delivered through pure or hybrid cloud services. Avaya also tells us that the increase in security is especially significant to the midmarket, quoting a 2015 global survey report that the number of attacks reported by midsize companies increased 64% between 2013 and 2014. (I suspect a newer survey would find even higher numbers.). The increase in attacks on this segment comes partly due to cybercriminals turning to midsize businesses in hopes of easy access. The latest version of IP Office also provides system failover cloud to cloud, cloud to premises, premises to cloud, and premises to premises - Avaya considers this a significant differentiator.
Last month Compunetix introduced its new HD voice collaboration app, available for free in the Apple iTunes App Store. This tool facilitates clear, concise collaboration between participants with the touch of a button, and is designed to minimize conferencing complexities and maximize the auditory experience. Basically it's an encrypted IP-based calling app that delivers HD meeting audio. The app's quick integration into a customer's device environment should help it work smoothly in the background to elevate users' audio experience to Summit Olympus-sized levels. Those currently utilizing the Summit Olympus UC platform can contact their Account Managers for upgrade specifics.
Collaboration Squared announced that having received Cisco's Advanced Video Specialization Partner status, it is now in a position to sell Acano, handle cloud endpoint registrations, and resell Cisco Spark, WebEx, and the entire Cisco endpoint portfolio (excluding IX5000). The company promises that some new Spark, WebEx, and Ubiety Cisco Meeting Server cloud bundles will be coming in November too.
Ideation and Brainstorming and Displays
Nureva Inc., released Nureva Span 1.3 software. The new version, which customers receive automatically through the cloud, enables flexible collaboration in multiple ways. 1) Users can now duplicate canvases to create templates for reuse or create multiple versions of the same canvas during a collaboration session. This feature lets users create custom templates and allows break-out groups to expand their ideas independently. 2) A new trial version gives access to one canvas within the software at no cost, and guests can now be invited to participate in a canvas. This makes it possible to fully include outside participants in planning or ideation sessions, strengthening the collective output of the group. And enhancements in the software reportedly better compensate for inconsistencies in users' Internet connectivity, enabling smoother collaboration sessions with minimal technical interruptions. I'm reminded of the bandwidth shaping / error correction techniques seen in web conferencing and video conferencing products in the past. Other new features: users can save versions of the same canvas at several points during longer ideation sessions, enabling easy look-backs to ideas and plans as they develop; increased functionality on personal devices; the ability to open web browsers and other desktop applications without having to exit Span software; and more tools for representing ideas, such as text boxes and inking within groups.
Last week InFocus Corporation announced its new 70-inch Mondopad Ultra touchscreen collaboration system, an all-in-one video conferencing, interactive whiteboarding, presentation and data sharing display for collaboration. The Mondopad Ultra offers 4K (3840×2160) resolution and is the first Mondopad to employ both projected capacitive touch and 4K screen resolution. Watch out, Surface Hub! Mondopad is an enormous touch-enabled screen that combines an HD video conferencing system, an interactive whiteboard, a 4K presentation screen, audio conferencing, and a Windows 10 Pro, Intel Core i7-based PC. Able to perform a myriad of functions, Mondopad allows team members in multiple locations to see and hear each other while brainstorming on a shared whiteboard and to collaboratively edit documents and draw directly onscreen enabling real-time collaboration and more effective meetings. I received a demo just this week and think it could play well in higher education markets, in fact. Seeing is believing. Price point: $13,999 list price and available in October.
On September 7, Mersive released Solstice version 2.7 and introduced Solstice Enterprise Edition for the Solstice Pod and Windows Software. The 2.7 version of Solstice includes new features and enhancements for a more robust and intuitive collaborative experience. Solstice 2.7 happens to also have full Apple iOS 10 support right out the chute. And we note some nifty Enterprise Edition features that seem to stand out, from support of QoS to (coming) over-the-air software updates that can take place behind the firewall.
Nepris has closed a seed round of funding totaling $1 million, led by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Nepris brings together educators and industry professionals in an online community, enabling them to collaborate and connect through live online interactive sessions where students get to see what they're learning in the classroom applied to the working world. Additional funders include Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2), Investor's Circle Patient Capital Collaborative, Voqal and other angel investors. A demographic study sponsored by New Schools Venture Fund reportedly found that 55 percent of students reached through Nepris are from underserved and lower socio-economic school districts - nice work!
Streaming and Video Conferencing
Managed video conferencing, telepresence, and visual collaboration services provider Pinnaca has formed a strategic partnership with Onstream Media, the online service provider of live and on-demand media communications. Pinnaca will launch the new service under the brand Event Streaming and will provide the service through Onstream's video webcasting and webinar platforms. Not forgetting its commitment to conference rooms, the company also announced a strategic partnership with UK-based Ashton Bentley, a designer and manufacturer of modular, integrated presentation and video conferencing systems (read: accessories). Ashton Bentley's products are designed to standardize an enterprise's collaboration environment.
Panopto tells us of a recent integration with Skype for Business announced last month. Here's the skinny in three key points: the integration enables users to automatically publish their Skype for Business recordings to Panopto; the integration was built to be easy to set up - a user simply installs Skype for Business, installs Panopto, and selects a checkbox in the Panopto settings UI; and once the checkbox is enabled, any recordings initiated from Skype are automatically uploaded to Panopto, published to the user's personal folder, transcoded for playback on any device, and indexed for search.
Everyone's getting into the SfB integration action. REC.VC announced that SfB users can now record or stream a video meeting or event simply by calling their REC.VC video address (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the SfB client on their PC or Microsoft Surface Hub.
Not to be overlooked, Verba, a company somewhat new to us announced on August 16th that it is the "first solution in the world to record SfB screen and content sharing sessions / meetings." Hmm ... I think not. But Verba also announced release 8.8 of its recording and quality assurance product, with 98 fixes, including new recording modalities, improvements for legal compliance teams, and a subsystem to ensure and constantly validate the stored media in customer repositories.
So we're catching up on some summertime briefs. Not new news, but worth mentioning that VBrick reported a 118% increase in software sales for the first half of 2016, including recurring cloud subscription growth of 292%. VBrick also reported a gross margin in excess of 70% for the period, expanding its leverage of its cloud infrastructure. The company says that results reflect robust adoption of its cloud enterprise video platform.
Meanwhile, Haivision this summer rolled out an Android version of the mobile app for its Haivision Enterprise Video Platform. Previously released in an iOS version, the application allows users to watch, stream and record both live and on-demand video via their mobile devices.
And then there are the up-and-comers. On the Azure blog Anil Murching, Senior Program Manager, Azure Media Services, has announced that Microsoft has started conducting trials of HEVC encoding and delivery in Azure Media Services. HEVC/H.265 is a high-efficiency codec that enables a 50% bitrate savings over AVC/H.264 at the same quality, which is important in delivering video at ultra high definition (UHD) and beyond. Microsoft's new HEVC encoder is built on the same platform as its Premium Encoder and offers several new features including HEVC encoding at UHD/4K resolutions, including 4096×2160 pixels at 60 frames/second, and support for high dynamic range (HDR) content via HDR10 Media Profile with bit depth of 10-bits per color sample and BT.2020 color primaries, which are encoded at HEVC Main 10 Profile. This one's for the techies, but it tells you Azure is here to stay and here to play.
SIP Trunking & Carriers
Voxbone announced this week it has teamed up with another major player in the CPaaS market, Sinch, which powers popular apps such as Uber and Booking.com. Sinch has been very successful since it arrived in 2014, delivering more than two billion minutes of communications in the last year alone. Voxbone has increased the company's reach, supporting it with on-demand provisioning powered by an API, carrier-grade quality and assurance that regulations in 55+ countries and 9,000 cities are adhered to.
Telecom 360 is now a licensed UK telecom provider - the Netherlands-based company, known for local conference calling brands such as ConferenceCall.co.uk in the UK, and Telefonkonferenz.de in Germany, has finalized its interconnect with BT to become a licensed provider of telecommunications in the UK. The company reports to us that in three years it has grown to 60,000 users, mainly in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Web Conferencing & Chat
Just recently AnyMeeting, a provider of webinar and web conferencing solutions for small businesses, announced the release of Meeting 4.0 -- its next generation of its AnyMeeting web conferencing platform. This release includes a completely refreshed user interface, built on full WebRTC audio and video capabilities, 720p HD video conferencing, brand new iOS and Android mobile apps, and a more natural and engaging paradigm for online meeting participation. Upgrades to its video and file sharing capabilities include the ability to upload videos directly to AnyMeeting (vs. the previous YouTube limitation) and play, pause, and seek videos in real time during meetings. Attendees on the phone can also hear the audio from the video, which is a new feature. Of note for fans of social capabilities, the new platform now facilitates more personal and natural interactions between attendees. Meeting attendee images will automatically populate with the help of Gravatar.com, the site for helping power users create their own "globally recognized avatar." Additionally, hosts with Pro subscriptions can click on any attendee's name to view additional social media information, such as location, Company, Job Title, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles, if available. And AnyMeeting's in-meeting chat feature now contains 868 unique emojis, images of each person chatting, and the opportunity for everyone to keep track of meeting actions such as muting or content sharing.
Though privately held now, that good old Saba talent management / web conferencing vendor likes to share some financial details from time to time - especially when good news. For its fiscal year 2016, the company reported Saba Cloud bookings up 73% YoY, and 160 new customers, with 30 new customers migrating to the Saba Cloud.
Across the pond from those of us in the states, this summer Barcelona-based Digital Samba, SL announced that it has released OnSync 5.0, its web conferencing platform with an entirely new flat design user interface, full hybrid audio between dial-in and web users, new telephony controls in the admin center, and other features. These include what the company reports as substantially faster performance that results in rapid page loads and more fluid navigation.
Finally, MindLink, provider of secure Chat Enabled Collaboration (CEC) tools for global businesses, announced this summer the availability of its next-generation software and User Interface (UI). The redesigned messaging app is meant to make sharing knowledge and retrieving information via chat easier and more powerful. It enables real-time collaboration of information, with a goal of not overloading users, and it allows access to knowledge in a highly structured and customized way. The company reports that it increased its engineering capacity by 30% and spent six months building the new version. Under a new CEO the past year, software revenues grew 70% year-over-year, MindLink signed some major resellers, and recently raised an additional US $1 million in funding. Finally, the company has partnered with mobile device and application management firm VMWare AirWatch to have MindLink's chat & messaging application securely containerized (you know, put into a container, securely) on mobile devices.
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