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Video Collaboration Steps Up Thanks to Cloud-Based Services

October 12, 2015

Many of us have used some kind of video collaboration tool at one time or another, and most of the time, the experience ends well. Not only is there a clear value in being able to readily speak to others about progress on certain tasks, about new ideas and a host of other things, but it's also becoming a lot easier to put these tools to work. What's driving all this new use? As it turns out, one of the biggest new drivers is the growth of cloud-based systems that allow such tools to be used right at the browser level.

Lifesize's Andy Nolan, who serves as the vice president of the company's U.K., Ireland and Northern Europe operations, noted that there's a transition going on from the traditional meeting room system, and accompanying desktop solutions, to the next generation of cloud services. Businesses in turn are looking to cloud-based systems to help address a variety of problems, including a growing skills gap and lack of local workforce. That's allowing for companies to pick from broader talent pools, while still allowing for easier contact.

One of the biggest moves in this field is the Lifesize Cloud Web App, an app that draws on the power offered by Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) to help bring ready conferencing to Google Chrome. Organizations pay annual subscription fees for access to Lifesize Cloud via the Web app, and the Cloud Web App itself is included therein. Companies have even been helping out on this front via something of a shift in infrastructure; the video network is largely cloud-based, which draws a lot of the maintenance burden off information technology (IT) departments altogether.

Nolan offered up some comment on these developments, saying “These days we are seeing a shift of power in companies from the CIO to business leaders, which means that technologies that enable them to make decisions without the IT department are increasingly preferred, and on the rise.” He followed this up by noting that the browser was becoming “the hub of all Web-based activity”, a development that would make the dedicated, heavy PC app “almost redundant.”

With reports suggesting that there would be over six billion devices capable of supporting WebRTC in just four years, it's easy to see why many companies are gravitating in that direction. The eternal tradeoff of cloud vs. on-premise system has been clear, and equally clear is that many companies are choosing cloud. While there's a significant loss of control that comes with the cloud—it's someone else's system running, after all—there's also a loss of heavy capital expense to get set up, and also lost is maintenance expense.

It's only somewhat surprising to see so many companies trade in the expense of setting up a complete system in favor of a few basics along with a subscription fee to power the system. The growth of things like network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) proves that there's value in keeping systems separate from the business. While this has some potential pitfalls involved, it's a lot more likely that the business will benefit from regular, lower costs and the ability to operate in more locations at once.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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