Tuning In Free Videoconferencing

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Skype 4.0, ooVoo, Tokbox and Mebeam aim to make videoconferencing simple, but are any of them good enough for business use? Solution providers will find that limitations abound, creating up-sell opportunities.

Reduced travel budgets, cheap technology and ample broadband connections have helped to create interest in simple videoconferencing solutions. Skype has led the way in building that interest, and its video service is being used by popular TV shows, such as Oprah Winfrey, Millionaire and others.

With a renewed emphasis on video, it only makes sense for businesses to consider using many free products for ad-hoc videoconferencing. While the list of free videoconferencing services is growing, it is still pretty hard to beat Skype as a starting point for diving into the intricacies of desktop PC-based videoconferencing, especially now that Version 4 has arrived.

But, there are a couple of catches—Skype is only free for Skype-to-Skype calls and Skype only supports one-to-one videoconferencing. Those limitations have greased the wheels for other players to grab some mindshare, and Skype is no longer the only game in town.

Solution providers will find that instant profits may be hard to come by and appreciable margins may be a thing of the past, yet videoconferencing still proves to be an excellent way to demonstrate advanced capabilities and pave the way for commercial solutions.

Aggressive integrators will choose to roll out some of those free services just to introduce a business to IP videoconferencing and demonstrate the value of the service. After all, videoconferencing is a lot like potato chips—you can’t just have one.

The following is Channel Insider’s analysis of the leading free videoconferencing options available to solution providers.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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