Logitech, which sells the LifeSize videoconferencing infrastructure for unified communications (UC) environments, introduced Tuesday a new delivery model it calls the Universal Video Collaboration (UVC) Platform.
With the UVC offering, the various components of a videoconferencing system--such as a video gatekeeper, routing control, firewall transversal, video recording, and other management features--run as virtual appliances in a server rather than as physical appliances on a network. Logitech says the virtual delivery model avoids the problem for customers of installing and maintaining these many appliances on a network and delivers more-flexible videoconferencing capacity based on a company's needs.
The UVC Platform replaces a physical model that is "rigid and inflexible," said Michael Helmbrecht, vice president of marketing for LifeSize. Physical appliances, whether from LifeSize or competitors such as Cisco or Polycom, are typically one size, ship with the same fixed configuration, and have to be installed and managed by the customer.
"Customers would say, 'Hey, I'm an IBM server shop or I'm a Dell server shop. I don't want your appliance,'" Helmbrecht recalled. "They'd say, 'I don't want a one-size-fits-all approach. I want what I need.'"
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With the LifeSize UVC Platform, customers may add only the video features and functionality that they need and run them as virtual machines on one or multiple physical servers, he said. They also can scale the UVC Platform for the size of their organization and their current use of videoconferencing, then scale up as usage grows, he said.
"It allows you to decide how you want to meter the functionality of the applications that we provide on top of the [virtual machine] to whatever you actually need at the time," added Casey King, chief technology officer of LifeSize. "There's enormous flexibility in it."
Although other videoconferencing vendors also offer virtual versions of some appliances, LifeSize is different in that it enables videoconferencing completely via virtualization, said Richard Costello, an IDC analyst.
"You no longer need to purchase, ship, install, and provision separate, single-purpose hardware devices to run video applications," Costello said. "Lower LifeSize price points for provisioning this functionality doesn't hurt either. But the trick will be for LifeSize to clearly demonstrate to its channel partners and to its customers the compelling reasons for considering the platform."
Although the videoconferencing market is growing, inhibitors to wider deployment by companies revolve around bandwidth capacity, infrastructure implications, and support concerns, he said.
The virtual nature of the platform also makes it easier for a prospective customer to get a free trial of UVC through a simple software download, like trying out a SaaS application, said Helmbrecht.
Existing LifeSize-branded features available in the virtualized UVC environment include Video Center for streaming and recording, and Transit Server and Transit Client for firewall transversal. A new feature, Access, is an IP communications routing and control gatekeeper. The LifeSize UVC Platform is available globally with prices starting at $3,999.
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