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News in Brief: 3 September, 2015

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on Unified Communications & Collaboration

 

News in Brief: 3 September, 2015
    

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3 Sep 2015
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Fuze has been added to the U.S. Federal Government Authorized Supplier List (aka GSA schedule), a requirement coup for any vendor seeking to tap into that particularly robust market.  (And hey, they pay their bills reliably!)  Fuze also announced mid-August improvements in how users can take notes during meetings.  The Fuze Meeting Notes icon is now more prominently displayed on the bottom menu bar. Notes opens up on the right-hand side of a user’s meeting pane, giving the ability to view content and Notes side-by-side. Depending on user preference, one can increase and decrease the window pane size during the session, or undock the note completely.  Notes also supports group co-editing, and all notes can be saved automatically and maintained with a particular meeting for anytime access.

Co-editing in Fuze meeting notes

In a bit of news buried in the media but that has bounced around in the rumor circuit, Citrix has announced it is exploring “strategic alternatives” to its GoTo family of products. From its Q2 2015 earnings call: “We've built GoTo into a great business over the past decade, and our belief is that there may be opportunities to create further value for this pure-play SaaS business if not constrained by the company's overall operating model.”  Andy and Marc and I wondered how Citrix Online would fare once it was pulled into the mother ship a few years ago.  With Mark Templeton on his way out as CEO and a board in transition – seeking to focus on core businesses – web conferencing isn’t seen as core to virtualization, client / server, network / device management, and the company’s other core IT services.  Who wants one of the top players? Based on the state of the collaboration marketplace, our bet is the asking price will be too high for any of the incumbents (or they already have their solutions) and the company might simply spin off the GoTo products into a separate company. What do you think? Click on "Add New Comment" below.

More news from more titans.  Apple and Cisco are partnering with the the goal of improving how Cisco networks and iOS devices work together.  Nota bene all of you UC players: this is for collaboration among other reasons.  Apple and Cisco are saying they will focus via joint engineering efforts on improving performance for the iPhone and iPad in Cisco voice and video environments, while also extending the Cisco UC experience to the iPhone.  And Cisco and Apple want to optimize iOS across mobile, cloud, and premises-based collaboration tools such as Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence, and Cisco WebEx.  Just like we thought the Apple-IBM partnership was (and is) a big deal, so is this announcement.

On the video front, Education Networks of America has dropped Vidyo’s platform and is going with that johnny-no-longer-come-lately flavor of the year in education: Zoom.  ENA is transitioning its ENA Live service to Video Collaboration Powered by ZoomThe company wisely made the cutover before school started – this will affect large numbers of schools in a number of American states. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Zoom has announced it has integrated with team workspace / developers’ shiny new object Slack.  This integration will allow users of Slack’s real-time messaging, archiving, and search platform to start Zoom video conferencing from the Slack interface with a single command.  (Slack acquired ScreenHero, so will offer its own native video as well, however.)  Zoom seems to be cornering the “we’re your new video-conferencing-integrated-as-a-feature solution” marketplace, as we hear it’s also powering Glip’s service.  (And unlike the Slack integration, a subscription to Zoom is included in the Glip price.)

Feliz cumpleaños Digital Samba!  The Barcelona-based company last month celebrated 12 years in business, which in high tech can be the equivalent of six or seven lifetimes.  We have written in the past about this company, which white-label sells its OnSync product to “around” 20 web conferencing providers.  The company reports steady growth of over 25% a year, and additionally has “reacquired” its U.S. business from channel partner Access Fibre Solutions.  (Customers include Pearson, NYIT, NYIF, Armstrong, and others.)  Digital Samba is almost as old as Wainhouse Research, but still younger than Cisco, Polycom, Microsoft, and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Further across the pond, and down towards the sub-continent, we note a new video conferencing player out of India, Peoplelink. The company  launched a product called InstaVC, a “one-of-a-kind web based Instant Video Conferencing for Simplifying Business Collaborations” product.  Peoplelink also makes HD PTZ cameras and omni-directional mics and speakers.  While some of the company’s claims of being first to market with a WebRTC solution seem to be overblown, we’ll let the marketplace (and you) decide what it thinks.  (I smell a company in need of some marketing help.)

Several weeks ago Google announced a new website and experience to be provided by Google Hangouts.  The change is less in terms of features and functionality, and more in terms of what you get in your user experience.  You still have your list of contacts and message windows, and you can message groups of up to 100 people and have voice and video calls with up to 10 people.  But you are now disassociated with some of your other Google “stuff” like your email feed. While not revolutionary, it will allow some of you to maybe not multi-task during every meeting. Please!  Separately in the Googleverse, Google Classroom has added some new features, including support for question-driven discussions, as well as reuse of assignments, announcements, or questions from previous classes.  Educators can change the order of posts in the class stream by moving any item to the top of the stream to give it priority.  And students and teachers can now use a Share to Classroom Chrome extension to share web content with their classes.  Also, reportedly this month Google Classroom will be fully-integrated with Google Calendar as well.  Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an LMS-mon!

All is not perfect in the Googleverse, however. Yes, the self-driving cars aren’t causing the accidents, people are!  Yes, advertising sales are healthy and robust.  But cloud security vendor Bitglass has reported, based on its cloud-based analysis of data traffic surveying 120,000 global organizations, that Microsoft Office 365 has overtaken Google Apps as the top vendor of cloud-based office productivity software.  Reportedly in 2014 Google had more than double the market share of Microsoft, with 16.3 percent. But over the last 15 months Microsoft managed to pull off a dramatic leapfrog and now leads Google with a 25.2 percent market share. Google claims a 22.8 percent share. Now remember, this is share of cloud-based office productivity software.  Lotta shifting in that space right now. But as that category goes, this gives Microsoft even greater defensive leverage (or at least shows it is likely to continue to do well) in pushing Skype for Business and Office 365 into the marketplace.

ReadyTalk made something of a “soft” announcement of its roadmap plans for its web collaboration platform, including “transitioning to a modular platform, built on WebRTC, which will enable customers to quickly access the tools they need without the distraction of those they don't.”  The company promises faster rollouts of new products and features.  And ReadyTalk touts its effort to achieve “Intelligent Access Solutions.”  We heard this second hand via virtual-strategy.com, but there’s nothing on ReadyTalk’s blog.  I call that guerilla marketing!

Nureva is now shipping the Span Ideation system in North America (as of August 25th).  We wrote about Nureva in our post-InfoComm coverage way back in June (feels so long ago now that the summer is fading).  The software has an annual subscription of $239 for a single-user license. The hardware has an MSRP of $9,999 and $21,999 for the WM210i and WM220i, respectively.  In concert with this announcement, the company announced a North American dealer program being run by its North American sales organization.

Yealink (which hails from China, not that you’d know it from the product name) announced today that its VC120, a full HD video conferencing endpoint, is now compatible with Zoom’s cloud-based HD video conferencing service. Yealink is now an official member of Zoom’s Partner Program, which certifies products from technology companies as Zoom-compatible to provide best-in-class solutions to businesses. 

Yes, some of this news folds back into August.  Mersive kept working through the vacation season – the company announced its first major simultaneous update for the Solstice Pod and Solstice Software for Windows. Solstice version 2.4 adds a new network mode that enables guests and corporate / network users to collaborate securely in the same meeting.  The new dual-network mode will allow users to access the Solstice Pod in two ways simultaneously: guests can connect to the Pod's wireless access point (WAP), while network users can connect via the existing corporate or campus network. Users that connect to the WAP can also be granted Internet access; the new network mode solves the challenge of enabling guests and network users to seamlessly collaborate in the same meeting without sacrificing network security.  The new release also adds video file sharing support for the Solstice Pod, Japanese language support, and Windows 10 platform support.

ScanSource is planning to purchase KBZ, a family-owned video conferencing distributor that reported $225 million of sales for the 12 months ending June 30.  This Doylestown, Pa.-based distributor has 75 employees and is a leading Cisco (video systems) distributor – oddly enough ScanSource sells a lot of Cisco products but little video conferencing.  The KBZ employees will join ScanSource and report to Kyle Zorzi (of KBZ) in an organization that will keep the KBZ name for at least six months to a year.   

The market analysts in us like stats.  So we like from time to time to report on NextPlane’s UC Exchange member stats.  NextPlane’s federated community has now grown to 356 organizations with over 244,000 unique users, enabling for members real-time collaboration with their colleagues in other / business partner organizations.  Among its new members are Virgin Atlantic Airways, Intuit, and HP Enterprise.

Speaking of UC: ThinkingPhones has teamed with Group Phoenix to provide a Global UCaaS platform. The goal is to deliver an intelligent cloud communications platform to the European market, via a multimillion, multi-year deal that will include seats across Romania, Ukraine, Moldavia, Italy, and the Benelux region, with plans to expand further into Eastern Europe and Russia later this year.

Speaking of streaming – NOT – but one bit of news: Wowza Media Systems has expanded its feature set for the Wowza Streaming Cloud.   The Wowza Streaming Cloud service gives both new and experienced users access to professional-grade, pay-as-you-go live streaming. Its latest features enable recording, scheduling, and built-in Content Delivery Network (CDN) delivery, so users can deploy live streaming in minutes.  (Users can stream directly through the Wowza Streaming Cloud service or through existing CDNs or services.)  This represents another move for Wowza’s push into the cloud and desire to improve workflows.

OK more streaming news and then we’ll sign off.  VBrick has added native Adobe Flash multicasting capabilities to its Rev Enterprise Video Platform.  This approach gives VBrick customers instant access to Adobe Flash multicasting without requiring separate server licensing and without loading special stream receivers or proprietary players. Before you scoff that Flash is yesterday’s news, note: $ saved but more to the point: this preserves the multicast option for VBrick deployments as Microsoft kills off Silverlight.

 

People & Places

Know someone in the industry who changed jobs?  Jump into a new role yourself as vendor, end user, or channel partner?  Email us at [email protected] to share the good news.

  • Biamp Systems, Sally Blank, Sales Development Director, UC

  • Biamp Systems, Rob Houston, Product Manager, UC products

  • Broadvoice, Anita Sharifi, Channel Manager, Southwest Region

 
  • Broadvoice, Cathe Shandie, Channel Manager, Southwest Region

  • Integra, Marc Willency, CEO

  • KBZ, a ScanSource company, Kyle Zorzi, Senior vice president

  • RHUB Communications, Paul LaChance, VP of Sales

  • Merit Network, Inc., Joseph F. Sawasky, President and CEO

  • Tely Labs, Isabelle Coste, VP of Marketing

 

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