Many companies out there are still struggling to wrap their heads around the advent of cloud video conferencing. Perhaps they have been using software as a service (SaaS) approaches for other aspects of their business, but have been mostly reliant on traditional on-premises hardware for their telephony systems. Or maybe they’ve spent money on room systems that incorporate Cisco or Polycom hardware, and are reluctant to tackle the beast of interoperability—that is, getting their SaaS cloud conferencing software (for instance via Skype for Business) to work with the room systems.
But the excitement around cloud conferencing for video is exactly its interoperability—that it can bridge cloud based video conferencing with hardware technologies that Cisco and Polycom have survived on for decades.
“Many of our customers still struggle with approaching video conferencing from a cloud perspective versus an on-premises, traditional perspective,” says Robb Woods, BlueJeans Director of Business Value and Solution Strategy, “even though for all intents and purposes, our market today is very much inclusive of cloud based solutions. The three key pieces of corporate communications—audio, video, and web conferencing—are available to consumers and companies under the SaaS model.”
Despite all this, vendor-driven, hardware-centric solutions still are out there and leaned upon by many.
According to Woods, it took a while for the cloud video conferencing market to be defined. But, early on BlueJeans set the pace for the service environment we’re living in now, where the three important parts fall inside this cloud service and can happily coexist.
“Interestingly,” he says, “it’s still a challenge to get people to understand ‘why cloud video conferencing?’ Why should I do it in the cloud? Embracing the last of those three modalities—cloud video conferencing—makes sense since you are already consuming the other two as SaaS services. We’ve seen a consolidation, a folding in, into one ‘meetings’ service.”
Often what gets customers over the hump is exactly the interoperability of cloud based video conferencing—not just the ability to connect to room systems, but the ability to connect, with zero complications, to any device, any network, anywhere. That is the other beauty of cloud connectivity.
“Obviously BlueJeans is a video-centric company,” says Woods. “From the get-go we’ve been thinking about all of these different solutions, and we strived early on to replace every audio conference with a much more engaged (cloud) video conference. We have to facilitate interoperability to do that. People shouldn’t have to worry—or even think—about what device they’re on.”
So what’s next after the interoperability conversation? Integrations, says Woods. Customers are going to want additional solutions beyond cloud based video conferencing, for instance remote desktop control, remote muting, annotations, whiteboards. Not to mention an enriched environment for video that incorporates, as BlueJeans does, Dolby digital audio.
“I’m speaking soon at CIO event in Chicago,” notes Woods, “and the topic is exactly this: the cloud video conference, and life beyond video conferencing interoperability. The conversation will center on integration APIs, SDKs, how to make video a component of your website or services, whether you’re running a call center, an insurance agency, a hospital, or a tech firm. Being able to provide video is a key form of integration.”
A third component in a company’s forward-thinking approach to the cloud video conference, Woods says, involves a different kind of integration—perhaps “enabling” is the better word—of the physical and behavioral workspace. Meaning, the ways people work. This idea is less about video per se and more about what constitutes excellent onramps into video calls. BlueJeans is a believer in the idea that video can be integral to any existing mode of interpersonal communication.