LifeSize Takes HD Video Conferencing to the Cloud

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Value-priced HD video conferencing vendor LifeSize says its new cloud-based HD video conferencing offering addresses businesses concerns about the cost of video conferencing capital equipment.

Logitech subsidiary, LifeSize is expanding its business to the cloud. The provider of on-premise videoconferencing solutions is launching videoconferencing cloud services with, LifeSize Connections.

The cloud-based HD videoconferencing service is aimed at businesses that haven’t yet taken the plunge into telepresence and desktop videoconferencing, in part because of the capital expenditures needed on pricey hardware. LifeSize has traditionally offered on-premise solutions for total control and flexibility, but business customers want choice, and the cloud can offer that choice, said Mary J Miller, director of product marketing at LifeSize.

"What we’re offering is more choice for customers by offering a new cloud-based service," Miller said.

Building on LifeSize history of supporting open standards, Connections is a standards-based, globally-distributed and centrally-managed cloud videoconferencing service. Customers get encrypted multi-party video communications in high-definition. They can use LifeSize telepresence-style videoconferencing systems and the vendor’s desktop client.

The cloud solution is comprised of LifeSize’s infrastructure products (including the bridging and Paradial systems) and the software applications that run in the cloud.

"We are also going to be upgrading all of the firmware of the room codec endpoints to enable those devices to become cloud-aware," Scott Lomond, vice president of video conferencing services at LifeSize.

As with webconferencing applications currently on the market, Connections customers will be able have guests join meetings for free by providing a download link and guest registration.

To make it easiest on customers from a technical point of view, the cloud service is capable of doing auto-configuration of endpoints.

"Through the cloud we can create an account for a room, associate the serial number for a new codec or even existing codec for that room, and when that device is powered up and someone hits the Connections button on the console, it will reach up to the cloud, auto-configure itself and be up and running," Lomond said.

It also includes a click-to-call directory and the ability to have fully encrypted nine-way 720p videoconferences.

For administrators, a web-based administrative console enables them to reach into individual or multiple accounts to regulate how much bandwidth users or user groups should be able to consume using Connections.

"It’s certainly for companies that have traditionally sat on the sidelines," Lomond said.

Pricing is based on a per-user or per-room basis, depending on the specific end-user license. For individual users with the desktop client, pricing is $30 per user per month. For room endpoints, pricing is $100 per room per month.

LifeSize is working with channel partners to bring the new Connections cloud videoconferencing service to market.

"We’ve been very careful to structure it in such a manner that our partners can build lucrative recurring revenue streams around this service," Lomond said.

LifeSize channel partners can add a rich array of professional services such as building room systems for customers, as well as through selling hardware and peripherals, he said.

Alongside its Connections launch, LifeSize also announced PassportConnect, a cloud-optimized HD videoconferencing system that builds off of its Passport endpoint.

"It is a video system that is completely optimized for working with cloud-based solutions like LifeSize Connections," Miller said.

The included user interface is different from on-premise systems, she said. It includes name-based dialling and a simplified user experience. It also marks the first time a LifeSize product has been integrated with Logitech’s HD camera technology.

As a standalone unit, PassportConnect will be priced at $1,499 (or $999 with a one-year Connections subscription). Both Connections and PassportConnect will be available in the third quarter of this year.

In continuing to develop new products and services for the market, LifeSize is also eyeing the mobile video communications space. The company has acquired Mirial (www.mirial.com) to add mobility capabilities to its videoconferencing solutions and services. Mirial will be integrated into LifeSize, giving the latter the ability to support a range of iOS and Android mobile devices.

"The good news for their partners and our partners is they will have a standard offering with all the things they offer. It’s expanded opportunity on both sides," Miller said.