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Wainhouse Research Interview with Vidtel CEO Scott Wharton

July 10, 2013 | Telepresence Options


Story and Images by Ira M. Weinstein / Wainhouse

Ira recently caught up with Vidtel's Scott Wharton - and also spent some time with Vidtel and its partners at the Vidtel team dinner at InfoComm. Scott here brings us up to speed with Vidtel since we last spoke with him.

WR: So what exactly does Vidtel offer? Is Vidtel a bridging service, a managed service, a calling service, or something else?

Scott Wharton

SW: Vidtel is a service provider that delivers any-to-any video conferencing with a cloud-based solution. We've been a market pioneer: as far as we're concerned, we were the first to market with cloud-based any-to-any video technology.

WR: Sorry to interrupt, but you say you were the first to market with, and I quote, "cloud-based any-to-any video technology." This is a great sound bite, but can you explain what that really means?

SW: Sure. We launched the company in 2008 with a vision of providing "any-to-any" video conferencing. At the time, enterprise video was primarily H.323-based and focused on internal calling. At the other extreme, there were a number of consumer-grade video services that were proprietary. We were the first to deliver a service that supported not only enterprise-grade solutions (H.323 and SIP) for B2B calling, but also consumer video.

We were the first to offer Skype and Google Talk gateways that worked purely from the network (at the time, people did not even use the world cloud!) -- with no CapEX investment or technology to manage. Others have followed our lead since then, and today it's obvious that this is what the market wants. At that time, however, we were the first to announce and deliver such a solution.

OK -- Now back to the original question about what we do. Specifically, we offer three main services.

1) Our Vidtel MeetMe Service delivers any-to-any video conferencing in the cloud. MeetMe seamlessly bridges traditional SIP and H.323 hardware endpoints, SIP soft clients like Cisco Jabber, WebRTC-based browsers, and consumer applications like Google Talk and Skype.

2) For customers that already have their own conferencing bridges, we offer the Vidtel Gateway Service. This service complements a customer's existing bridge by adding any-to-any capability -- so you can take a bridge that only supports H.323 or SIP, and extend that bridge so it can now support participants using WebRTC, Skype, Google Talk, and more.

3) And finally, our Vidtel Connect Service is a video dial tone service. Vidtel Connect allows your company to add point-to-point video dialing and features on all of your video devices. We provide unique email-like addresses based on SIP URI (can be either an email address or e.164 phone number), NAT and firewall traversal - everything you need to make your video device act like a UC endpoint.

WR: What specific problems does Vidtel solve?

SW: One specific problem we solve is interoperability. If you think about it, the interoperability problem with video has gotten worse, not better, in the last five years or so. A few years ago, all video bridges were based on H.323 and available from a handful of vendors; now, people use video with SIP, WebRTC, Skype, Google, and an endless supply of new standards emerging (SVC, VP8, VP9, H.265 etc.). In addition, many new entrants are taking different approaches. So interoperability is more challenging than ever. Vidtel solves that with our any-toany capability.

We also solve the cost and complexity challenge facing customers because we provide a cloud service. Businesses don't have to buy and manage hardware; they don't have to keep up with standards and interoperability. They don't need to invest in a huge IT team. They're getting service in a cloud (OpEx) model, not a CapEx model. And for our channel partners, we're making it easy to enter the cloud services market. We are 100% channel focused, meaning that we do not sell directly to end user customers. Our offering and business model allows our channel partners to quickly bring a compelling cloud video service to market, without having to buy and build one themselves.

WR: What do you believe differentiates Vidtel and its offerings from the other 50+ video service providers reaching out to enterprise customers today?

SW: We've built and own all of our own technology. We don't use any hardware from traditional vendors. This has concrete benefits for our partners: it means we're always current with interoperability and new features since we don't need to go back to vendors to update our service. This is how we've been able to provide true, native any-toany interoperability, and be first to market with new technology like WebRTC.

We also have a dramatically lower cost than others in the market. This is partly because our technology is home-grown, and partly because our channel-based go-to-market strategy means that we don't have large sales and marketing expenses. As a result, we can have much lower price points, and allow our partners to have really compelling market offers. We have market offers that no one else has. Our Gateway service, for example, which allows customers to add any-to-any to an existing videoconferencing bridge -- this is something no one else on the market has.

Finally, our channel focus differentiates us. While some of our competitors sell both directly to end-users and via channel partners, we sell only via the channel. This allows our channel partners to deliver their own service, under their brand, without worrying about competing against their technology partner

Please See the WRB for the Complete Interview

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