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Enterprise Connect: Skype, Citrix To Partner On Conferencing

GoToMeeting-style data conferencing capabilities will be embedded in a future release of the Skype for Business client.

David Gurlé, Skype's vice president and general manager of enterprise, announced a partnership with Citrix as part of his keynote at Enterprise Connect in Orlando.

Skype will embed GoToMeeting-style data conferencing capabilities in a future release of the Skype for Business client. This is a newly minted agreement, with pricing and packaging yet to be determined, but Gurlé said in an interview that it will probably be similar to the way customers enroll in the Skype for Business service introduced earlier this year. That product is offered for $8.99 per user per month, with a current promotional discount to $6.99 for a 3-month purchase. Occasional users can also purchase a "day pass" for $4.99.

While the initial thrust of the partnership will be to embed GoToMeeting capabilities in the Skype client, it's possible that Citrix will also eventually allow GoToMeeting users to include Skype users in an online conference, said Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix's online services division. "If customers decide they want that seamless experience, we will find a way, if we decide to do that," he said.

Gurlé said the ability to do data conferencing similar to that offered by GoToMeeting has been one of the most popular requests from business users.

Gurlé spent the majority of his speech talking about Skype's efforts to establish itself in the enterprise, venting some frustration over the perception that the technology must not be secure because it is a consumer product. In fact, Skype uses 256-bit encryption, putting it on par with encryption technologies used by the U.S. government to protect sensitive information. "It's way more secure than people think, but nobody knows about it," he says.

The most effective tool Skype has found to counter those doubts is an IT administrator's guide the company provides to help technologists answer those questions for themselves and their colleagues, Gurlé said.

Skype is also working to strengthen its reputation in reliability, investing in infrastructure to avoid a repeat of an outage that embarrassed the company in December.

Meanwhile, Skype has been rounding out its enterprise strategy with Skype Connect, which provides SIP Trunking to enterprises who want to use the Session Initiation Protocol to connect their corporate phone systems to the Skype service.

In addition, Skype has forged an important partnership with Avaya to make its phone and video services interoperate with Skype. "We know there are a lot of enterprise customers who are happy with Avaya," and are not about to pick Skype as a replacement technology, Gurlé said, but through this partnership Avaya users can reach out to connect with Skype users, including business partners and consumers.

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