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Blue Jeans Network Beats Microsoft To Lync, Skype Connection
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that with the company's acquisition of Skype, the software giant will be able to integrate the Skype Web-based voice and videoconferencing service into its Lync unified communications platform. Less than a month after the close of the $8.5 billion acquisition, little Blue Jeans Network has already beaten Microsoft to it.
Blue Jeans Network, a cloud-based videoconferencing service, on Thursday announced that it is able to join videoconference participants via Lync and via Skype, as well as those participating via room-based systems from Cisco Systems, Polycom, Logitech LifeSize, and others. The company will demonstrate the capability next week at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Nobody else in the world can currently take a user on Microsoft Lync and a user on Skype and put them together into one single meeting," said Stu Aaron, Blue Jeans chief commercial officer. The company launched its cloud-based videoconferencing service in June, claiming that it can join participants on any system on any device from anywhere. All the user needs is a device with a Web browser, an Internet connection, and a built-in video camera.
Subscribers are charged a certain amount of money for a specific number of minutes per month, just like a wireless phone plan. Only the host needs to have an account with Blue Jeans, not guests.
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While Microsoft has yet to announce an integration of Lync and Skype since the acquisition closed Oct. 13, it is clearly on the company's roadmap, Ballmer said. "Lync ... with Skype is a strategy that I think will allow the consumerization of IT to really proceed with full vim and vigor," he said at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 in Los Angeles in July. "We think we're going to be able to do even more fantastic things together."
But because Blue Jeans is browser-based, participants running any system can join the same meeting, said Aaron.
Blue Jeans calls its offering a "Meet Me" service, as do other vendors, because participants are sent an email prior to a meeting with a Web link. At the appointed time, participants all click on the link and they all appear onscreen for the meeting. They can join from any H.323-compliant system or Skype--as well as the comparable Google Talk--and they can join from a studio, a desktop, tablet computer, or a smartphone.
Supporting Lync integrated with Skype builds on the "network effect," Aaron said, which posits that the more people who can be connected on a network, the more effective the network will be. He said that will all the H.323 systems, Skype, Lync, Google Talk, and other connections available, the network work with as many as 1 billion end points globally.
Videoconferencing leaders such as Cisco and Polycom have recently been touting the interoperability of their platforms with others, as they are all based on the H.323 video industry standard. At an event marking the fifth anniversary of the Cisco TelePresence platform on October 25, Cisco linked video participants from several TelePresence locations around the world, but also included some people joining on a Polycom system.
While other providers talk about interoperability, it can still be a very involved process, said Krish Ramakrishnan, co-founder and CEO of Blue Jeans. Other videoconferencing systems still require the installation of hardware on the customer's network or their software installed on any participant's end point device.
"When we make Blue Jeans Network available it's available to everybody. It's out there in the cloud. You just turn on the spigot and it's there. That's the magic for us," said Ramakrishnan.
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