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Glowpoint Hits B2B Video Big Time

September 13, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
September 13, 2011 ( - Well, we've heard a lot about B2B videoconferencing for the last two years or more, much of it focused around the telepresence fairy.  And while you might argue that B2B has been around since the ISDN days of the 1990s, B2B does represent its own authentic challenges when it comes to IP video.  At any rate, B2B is definitely happening and the latest proof point is in the most recent announcement from Glowpoint.  Glowpoint claims to have 446 companies (and 39,000 endpoints) connected to the company's global exchange for B2B visual communications.  Two interesting statistics emerge from this:  one is that this represents about 2/3 of Glowpoint's total customer base; the other is that about half of the nearly 450 companies have opted in to have their numbers listed in Glowpoint's public global video exchange directory.  Those who are listed can be called by any other member of the exchange by using Glowpoint's telephone-like dialing plan.  Those who are not listed publicly can still be called if they give the remote person their exchange number.  Point-to-point calls can be made by the participants without assistance from Glowpoint's VNOC.   

Glowpoint has implemented this B2B video exchange service via its OpenVideo cloud architecture, a mix of:  1) internally-developed software and systems, 2) products provided by vendors such as AcmePacket and others, and 3) third party software applications.  The OpenVideo cloud addresses several major stumbling blocks for B2B
over IP:  
• The lack of a universal dialing plan - Glowpoint provides its dialing plan to all
exchange members.
• Ad-hoc interoperability failures - Glowpoint certifies all the endpoints registering
to the service to make sure that connections will go though.  This covers not only
endpoint interoperability, but also NAT/firewall traversal.
• Scheduling - Glowpoint's B2B video exchange service includes scheduling

B2B video exchange services are a natural complement to Glowpoint's traditional businesses.  The company still provides hosted video bridging services to subscriber and non-subscriber clients; and the company has a sharp focus on managed services for videoconferencing systems.  In fact, managed services customers automatically get access to the B2B services, making the managed service that much more valuable.

With 39,000 endpoints reachable on the exchange, you have to know that only a small percent of that number can be multi-codec telepresence rooms.  But unnamed sources inside Glowpoint tell me that the B2B service is popular with the immersive endpoints.  To me, that indicates that massive growth opportunities lie ahead for Glowpoint and others as users find reliable HD video connections to be valuable sales tools, deal closers, and recruiting opportunities.  

While we haven't spent much time going through the exchange's price list, we do note that the business model options seem to be flexible.  Clients can subscribe to a service supporting one concurrent B2B call per month for just $49. Frequent users can contract for a fixed price per month with unlimited usage; pricing then varies by bandwidth.

The B2B market is surprisingly embryonic, while not new at the same time.  Vendors are coming at this from several different directions.  Perhaps the most common evolution is the reseller channel partner moving into managed services and then moving into B2B.  Companies like Providea and IVCi come to mind.  But perhaps the giant in this space is BT Conferencing which claims to have 60,000 registered sites to its Global Video Exchange and is a market leader in the video managed services space.  BT Conferencing of course was an audio-web hosted services provider that got into video several years ago and strengthened its position by the acquisition of WireOne which was a sister company of sorts to Glowpoint itself (ancient history for those who care).  One of BT's areas of focus in the B2B world is exchange connectivity agreements with AT&T and Tata among others.  Tata, for those who don't remember, is a strategic partner of Glowpoint.  Glowpoint, meanwhile partners and competes with many of the companies named here, but as a business strategy, Glowpoint does NOT resell hardware.  This makes the company's video managed services and B2B video exchange services a natural partner for the videoconferencing and UC channel partners out there.  

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