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Cisco Systems partner CSC
is adding telepresence as a service to its offerings with Cisco’s line
of high-definition telepresence systems. CSC’s roll out of TAAS comes
after a pilot of the service with a few customers.  

CSC’s TAAS is a fully
managed and fully hosted telepresence offering that is billed to
clients on a per-room basis, enabling customers to move telepresence
expenditures from capital spending to operational spending, said Nimesh
Shah, vice president of global networks at CSC. The capital costs of
the hardware and the operational costs associated with the service
element are rolled into one monthly recurring fee based on the size and
scope of the telepresence room CSC deploys. CSC would not comment on
the range of prices.

“We earlier announced and launched last year our unified communications
as a service, which is a charge-per-seat model, and now we’re bringing
telepresence asa Service, which is a charge-per-room model,” Shah said.

In addition to providing all of the telepresence capabilities common to
Cisco telepresence systems, CSC is also tying its TAAS offering into
customers’ existing videoconferencing and unified communications

“What we found is a lot of customers are looking for a way to improve and expand their collaboration capabilities,” Shah said.

Although there are various collaboration tools available to businesses,
Shah said video is the one that is least used, but it’s growing
exponentially. He said many clients have been asking for a telepresence
system they can tie into their existing collaboration and
videoconferencing tools so they can get telepresence’s benefits but
without the capital expenditures previously required in telepresence
deployments. It makes it a more easily justifiable expense for some
businesses, he said. The ability to integrate with legacy video systems
is good for clients that don’t want to do a full rip-and-replace of
existing systems, he said.

“It’s a much more flexible way to get those services and bring that
collaborative capability without a huge investment outlay on their
part,” Shah said.
Even with TAAS, though, telepresence interest is mostly restricted to
large enterprises, but Shah said he expects the technology to move into
the midmarket as Cisco integrates Tandberg into its telepresence unit
more aggressively.

What TAAS provides to customers is a choice between capital and
operating expenditures, which Shah said they didn’t have prior to the
launch of the service. Enterprises had to buy everything outright, and
now they don’t have to, he added.

“We’ve talked to a number of our prospects who say we looked at this but this is a much better way to go at this,” Shah said.