Vidyo Inc.'s new videoconferencing system should stand out from the pack, analysts say, because of the efficient and cost-effective way it will enable service providers to offer low-cost, personal videoconferencing on a range of devices. (See Vidyo Ramps Up Videoconferencing.)
The key is a new VidyoConferencing architecture that links distributed VidyoRouters and eliminates the need to have a Multi-Point Control Unit (MCU) for centralized bridging of videoconferences and repeated transcoding of video streams.
Vidyo has designed its new architecture to be a multi-tenant, managed service offering that can be hosted in the cloud by service providers and can link any type of video endpoint, from large telepresence rooms through desktop systems to mobile devices. To date, KDDI Corp. and Elisa Corp. have deployed the Vidyo system. (See Elisa Deploys Vidyo.)
"They have come up with an architecture that improves scalability, decreases cost and in a lot of situations, improves the experience," says Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research. "It is very special and unique."
The Vidyo approach uses a process called Adaptive Video Layering to send out layers of images to its video router, which intelligently distributes the stream to the desired endpoints, without encoding, thus requiring less processing power, costing less and being more highly scalable, Weinstein says. Less manipulation of the video streams also means less latency and higher quality, he adds.
Vidyo was the first videoconferencing provider to use H.264 SVC, an ITU video compression standard that enables a video stream to be broken into multiple resolutions, quality levels and bit rates, depending on the endpoint device. That capability enables the VidyoRouter Cloud Edition to support any endpoint an enterprise wants to use, giving each the necessary bandwidth based on its capability. (See Vidyo Expands on Telepresence.)
H.264 SVC support is no longer uncommon, says Irwin Lazar, VP for The Nemertes Research Group Inc., as Radvision Ltd., Polycom Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and others are supporting it or will be soon.
"At this point, it is a first-mover advantage for Vidyo, because they have been building [their service] for close to 10 years now, and their competitors are just starting to dabble in it, so they have a more robust capability," Lazar says. "It is the video routers that are unique."
Keeping traffic local
By eliminating the need to connect all video endpoints to a centralized spot, the VidyoRouter Cloud Edition also keeps video traffic locally connected to a VidyoRouter, reducing the amount of transport needed and making the system more efficient and scalable, says Scott Morrison, research VP in the Enterprise Network Services group of Gartner Inc.. Expanding the system only involves adding more routers.
"This is an architecture we expect to see more of," Morrison says. Other videoconferencing companies are still using gateway devices, he says. "The big thing about the Vidyo solution is that it does that purely based on software clients."
That will require some significant processing power at the end point, Morrison says, making smartphones a less likely participant in the Vidyo videoconferencing universe. The rise of tablets and the iPad 2's expected two-way video capabilities make those devices more adaptable for videoconferencing.
"We don't believe the three-to-four-inch smartphone is ideal for two-way video anyway -- with tablets you have more screen real-estate, you can see something more clearly," Morrison says. "Holding a smartphone in your hand for a two-way video -- a person could get motion sickness watching that. The table market is going to be massive and that will be a significant chunk of this."
"We've seen a number of companies looking at video-enabled tablets -- utility crews that could film in the field, or city crews who use video as part of the inspection process," Nemertes Research Group's Lazar says. "There are a number of telemedicine-based apps on tablets. Insurance adjusters ... can video tape a claim and upload it for assessment."
Targeting service providers
Vidyo is specifically targeting service providers and very large enterprises for its VidyoRouter Cloud Edition. For service providers, the idea is to help companies take the complexity and cost out of video communications for businesses, according to Ashish Gupta, CMO and SVP of corporate development for Vidyo.
"What has cost $6 to $8 a minute to deliver, we can deliver for three to four cents per minute," Gupta says.
Vidyo provides the intelligent routing of the video, but service providers add their own value through choosing the least expensive route through their networks and tying the system into existing Operations and Support Systems for billing and customer care, Gupta says.
The VidyoRouter Cloud Edition can adapt to any type of network, including LTE networks, as the company demonstrated at Mobile World Congress, Gupta says. (See Vidyo Struts at MWC.)
Vidyo's licensing model is also economically attractive to global service providers, Weinstein says, because the software licenses are allowed to "float" so that any license not being used in one part of the world at a given time can be used elsewhere, enabling service providers to purchase fewer licenses.
One other thorny issue regarding videoconferencing -- firewall traversal -- is addressed by placing low-cost VidyoRouters inside the enterprise environment, Gupta adds.
â€” Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading