Radvision isn't the first to market with technology to plug its videoconferencing into the widely used Lync platform, but it is taking a different approach to solve the problem.
Although videoconferencing is an important component of any UC platform--along with audio conferencing, e-mail, IM, and document sharing--"Lync isn't natively interoperable," said Bob Romano, vice president of global marketing at Radvision, in an interview conducted over Radvision’s Scopia videoconferencing system.
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While Lync has a video component to it, Lync video is different from traditional videoconferencing because it uses unique codecs, which Radvision transcodes in order to connect Radvision and Lync, Romano explained.
"What the Lync gateway does is it allows this bridge between the Lync audio-video world and the traditional enterprise H.323 video world," he said, referring to the industry protocol for videoconferencing on IP networks, which he said Radvision developed.
Two other videoconferencing systems vendors take a different approach. Polycom last year introduced the CX7000 room-based videoconferencing system, which is prebuilt with Lync inside. LifeSize, a videoconference business owned by Logitech, also introduced Lync support for its LifeSize 200 series of endpoints, including room systems. Both vendors made their announcements in July at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 in Los Angeles.
In both cases, the Lync server identifies the videoconferencing system as just another client on the network, Romano explained.
"That’s a very good approach because what it does is you don't need to go through a gateway and it allows you to be a native client and look just like a Lync client," he said. The drawback, however, is that Lync identifies only the Polycom CX7000 and and LifeSize 200 series systems as Lync clients, ignoring the two million videoconferencing room systems already in use. "So the video gateway that we created is the bridge to that installed base of devices," Romano said.
There is a third way and it comes from Blue Jeans Network, the provider of a cloud-based videoconferencing service that announced in November 2011 that it could connect a meeting participant on Lync to another meeting participant on Skype. The announcement was a little dig at Microsoft, which had closed its acquisition of Skype a month earlier and is planning to integrate Skype into Lync.
Blue Jeans Network is not a videoconferencing system provider like Radvision, LifeSize or Polycom. Instead, it connects participants in the cloud from high-end systems such as Cisco TelePresence, those aforementioned systems, Skype, and the like, on devices ranging from desktop systems to tablets to smartphones.
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