Microsoft users now will have more flexibility to use LifeSize HD video conferencing systems, thanks to new interoperability between the two companies’ products.
LifeSize Team 220 was qualified within the Microsoft Office Communications Server platform. This is the first of many qualifications LifeSize is pursuing with Microsoft. Later this year, the company expects to win approval for its Passport, Room 220 and Express 220 products as well.
This further strengthens the ties between the two companies. Recently, Skype qualified the LifeSize Passport HD video conference product to be the first room-based, business-class video conferencing solution to be plugged into Skype. Weeks later, Microsoft acquired Skype with the intention of integrating its products into desktop computing and other applications.
With the new qualification, Microsoft customers can now experience seamless video calling across the enterprise by connecting LifeSize video systems in conference rooms and meeting spaces to the PC, and vice versa, delivering a unified communications (UC) experience.
Today, customers are able to make calls between Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 desktops and LifeSize endpoints, ensuring genuine, face-to-face interaction within their existing Microsoft environment and workflow. Later in 2011, LifeSize will seek qualification to interoperate with Microsoft Lync. This flexible interoperability will also enable customers to upgrade from Microsoft Office Communications Server to Lync on their terms.
Moreover, LifeSize has licensed the Microsoft RTVideo codec and is planning a future server-based product to enable high-definition interoperability between Microsoft Lync and LifeSize video systems. Later in 2011, LifeSize will seek Microsoft Lync qualification with true HD interoperability.
“LifeSize delivered the first HD video conferencing system in 2005, the first sub-$2,500 HD video product in 2009, and our commitment to innovation is realized today in yet another first – delivering on our promise to reach true interoperability across UC platforms,” said Craig Malloy, chief executive officer of LifeSize and Logitech senior vice president. “Through LifeSize and Logitech’s relationship with Microsoft and deep dedication to UC, we’re delivering on our vision to extend high quality communication capabilities to anyone, anywhere.”
LifeSize solution qualification for Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 includes support for:
- Authentication and encryption (TLS/SRTP) for secure, reliable communications
- Firewall/NAT Traversal via Microsoft Edge Services to ensure issue-free calling outside organizations
- Auto-configuration of systems as they are registered to Microsoft Office Communications Server, helping simplify deployment to users
- Unified presence status with the ability to place and receive calls from one Office Communications Server account between multiple devices (PC or a LifeSize system)
- Addition of LifeSize systems to contact lists in the Microsoft Office Communicator view and vice versa
- Easy placement of calls from LifeSize systems to third-party systems within the Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 environment, using commonly supported video and audio codecs
“Microsoft is pleased to be working with Logitech and LifeSize as a qualified partner to offer customers more comprehensive UC solutions through interoperability with Microsoft Office Communications Server and soon, Microsoft Lync,” said Yancey Smith, director of product management for Lync at Microsoft Corp. “The combination of LifeSize technology with Microsoft UC platforms will enable customers to extend their video conferencing ecosystems from the desktop to the boardroom, and everywhere in between.”
Not too many years ago, the term “convergence” applied to voice and data traveling over the same network. In today’s business world, convergence is taking on an entirely new meaning as video becomes a standard – and even preferred – method of communicating. More companies of all sizes desire – and expect – videoconferencing to become an integral part of their unified communications (UC) strategy.
Demand is also increasing thanks to strategies from Google and Microsoft, which have incorporated video and voice into their business-to-consumer product solutions. Consumers wish to use all of the features of free services such as Google Mail and Skype. To get the most out of these applications, they buy video cameras and microphones for their home laptops and mobile phones. Then, when these same technology users go to the office, they expect similar functionality on the job.
Currently, most businesses that integrate video into their daily operations rely on a point-to-point room system, where several people gather around conference tables in two locations for a one-to-one videoconference. But increasingly, businesses are looking for desktop video systems that allow individual users to be conferenced in from their locations around the world.
ShoreTel is one of the few business-to-business UC suppliers that currently offers video integration into its desktop UC solution. Using ShoreTel, users within an enterprise can conduct video meetings from desktop to desktop, whether scheduled or ad hoc.
ShoreTel is currently working to take its video solution even further. The company is partnering with manufacturers of room-based video systems to integrate its desktop video capabilities, allowing enterprises to bring key resources into their point-to-point video meetings. For example, a company might hold a videoconference in two large rooms on opposite coasts. If an outside expert from the heartland was needed on the call, the ShoreTel system would allow this consultant to participate via their own desktop computer.
Eventually, room systems and desktop UC solutions will become compatible. UC users will be able to meet via voice or video with the click of a mouse and incorporate the appropriate expert resources. Documents will be shared across both types of solutions as well. Plus, more users will be able to participate without requiring a large investment on a videoconferencing room at every location. This will make meetings more effective, reduce travel, and facilitate faster and better business decisions.
Skype may be considered the world’s largest VoIP network, though many would pass it off as a “not for business” option. Realizing that a large percentage of its hundreds of million monthly users are utilizing Skype services for business, Skype developed Skype Connect.
Skype Connect enables businesses to connect with the Skype community via the Internet and works directly with existing PBX and unified communications systems.
In 2009, ShoreTel became Skype’s first partner in its Skype for SIP enterprise-focused offerings, allowing ShoreTel customers to use Skype to direct outbound calls from devices on ShoreTel’s UC system to landlines and mobile phones – and at a fraction of the cost (about $.008 for local and $.02 for international calls).
Desktop phones can be Skype-enabled with a Skype name that is mapped to the business’ main number or an individual telephone extension, allowing Skype users to call that number for free.
Skype Connect also allows businesses to add Click and Call buttons to their websites, allowing customers to call on Skype for free.
ShoreTel customers can use the product to direct outbound calls from devices on ShoreTel’s UC system to landlines and mobile phones using Skype’s low rates, saving money on calls.
To get started using Skype for SIP with ShoreTel, businesses must create and register a Skype business control panel for their organization, and then follow instructions to configure Skype for SIP to work with existing SIP-enabled unified communications systems. We can help our new and existing ShoreTel customers get Skype set up and ready to use on their phone system.
The features of Skype for SIP include:
- Web-based tool allows businesses to control Skype usage from a single point
- Centralized billing
- Easy allocation of skype credit
- Subscriptions and online numbers to users
- Reporting about usage and spending
- Management of internal employee accounts – Find out who uses Skype and which features they use
Maxim integrated products, a fortune 1000 company, deployed Skype for SIP desktop software for more than 2,000 employees in 70 locations and has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on long-distance calling.
Maxim first rolled out Skype for SIP using ShoreTel PBX in its Dallas office, configuring 22 concurrent channels for domestic calling.
“Our Skype deployment has already turned Maxim into more of a real-time organization where we get our work done better, faster and cheaper,” said Walter Curd, CIP of Maxim integrated Products.
Skype Connect is supported on seven brands of phone systems, including ShoreTel. For businesses without a phone system that supports Skype, gateway solutions are available. One such solution is VoSKY Exchange.
VoSKY Exchange is the world’s first Skype-certified solution to work with PBX systems. Business class PBX gateway for Skype allows businesses to connect to the world’s largest VoIP network and make free or low-cost calls through Exchange and Skype.
Whether through a Skype-supported unified communications system, such as ShoreTel, or a gateway solution like VoSKY, VoIP integration with Skype can save a business hundreds of thousands of dollars on local and international call.
Adam Smith, Account Executive at Xtelesis shared this example of how one of his customers uses Skype for business:
Customer A has approximately 5,000 employees distributed around the world; faced with high international long distance bills and little support for their mobile workforce, they turned to Xtelesis for a solution.
Xtelesis worked with Customer A to integrate their IP PBX to the global Skype network which allowed the international and mobile users to dial back into the phone system using Skype and avoid costly long distance charges. Customer A saved many thousands of dollars annually in long distance telecom costs and it gave them an innovative solution that resulted in additional features as Skype rolls out their Enterprise platform.
Think Skype isn’t for business? Think again.
To learn how your business can cut costs by using Skype Connect paired with ShoreTel, or to get started using Skype for SIP with your ShoreTel phone system, contact us.
For more information on Skype Connect, check out this article published by UCStrategies.com.
Originally posted by AVTEQ, Inc.
Videoconferencing is no doubt a money-saver. It eliminates the need for travel, and allows individuals and businesspeople to meet face-to-face from different locations.
With the holiday season – and the busiest travel season of the year – upon us, you can add “eliminates need for frisky TSA ‘enhanced’ pat-down” to the list of top reasons why videoconferencing may be a better option.
The TSA has installed full-body X-ray scanners at most airports across the country. If you’re planning to fly – no matter if you’re pilot or passenger – you have two options: proceed with the full-body scan that essentially emits a naked image of yourself to the TSA personnel working security or opt for a full-body pat-down.
Let there be no doubt that “full-body” truly means “full-body.”
Neither option sounds too pleasant, huh?
The good news is that the TSA regulations play no role in videoconferencing technology or your decision to opt out of holiday travel and choose Turkey a-la-Skype instead.
Aside the made-for-business videoconferencing products on the market (LifeSize, Polycom, Cisco), there’s a feast full of options for individuals interested in video teleconferencing from home. Skype, Gmail, Yahoo!, ooVoo, TinyChat, to name a few. All of these services are free and easy to use.
Should you choose to continue with your travel plans, let us lay aside the myth that the TSA scanning devices save images. According to a blog by the Washington Post, the machines used by the TSA cannot store, print or transmit images.
What are your thoughts? Will the full-body scan or “enhanced pat-down” get in the way of your holiday travel? Are you opting for a virtual holiday instead?
As seen on BestinUC.com
Studies indicate the VoIP space has seen steady growth in 2010, with revenues increasing 8% in the first half of the year. By the end of 2010, the overall revenue projection for VoIP technology is expected to reach 13% more than 2009 revenues.
These projections seem to be holding true.
Dave Casey, CEO of Dallas-based Westron Communications, a unified communications and VoIP integrator, saw a 25% increase in VoIP-related revenue in the first half of 2010. "Organizations are now replacing first generation VoIP solutions purchased 5-7 years ago," said Casey.
There are several probable causes of growth in this space, including new products on the market in 2010, as well as hosted providers now offering unified communications and mobility products and services. The number of businesses seeking VoIP technology continues to grow as the availability the of new products come to market.
"The explosion of VoIP products available gives us business owners and operators what we’ve always wanted--choice,” said Scott Strochak, President and CEO of Xtelesis, a California-based integrator.
Eastern DataComm, New Jersey-based integrator, also saw growth in 2010, although, many “companies are holding off on implementing until the economy shows signs of sustained growth,” said Paul Zimmerman of Eastern DataComm. Zimmerman also said growth in 2010 at Eastern DataComm could be directly related to new product and service offerings, including a Network Performance Monitor for its IP PBX clients.
The continuous run of new, easy-to-use products keeps businesses interested. “Our suppliers have continued to introduce new products, primarily in the application area, that have continued to build interest and growth in the sale of VoIP systems,” said Casey.
With options for both VoIP hosted PBX systems and on-premise IP telephony solutions, businesses are able to cut costs with VoIP, compared to using traditional high-priced voice lines.
Strochak also contributes growth to brand names, like Skype, which have made the “jump from the consumer market to the business market with their SIP trunk offerings.” Seeing familiar brands make the jump increases a company's comfort level to consider new technologies. And, growth in the VoIP space is just getting started.
“We expect growth to continue through 2010 and into 2011 as more and more companies feel comfortable without their traditional phone company,” said Strochak.
Integrators across the country are expecting continued growth in unified communications. At Westron Communications, Casey anticipates his sales will be even better than predicted for the east and west coast since the Dallas-Ft. Worth market normally adopts new technology at slower rate, and there are still many legacy systems to be replaced. Businesses on the east and west coasts have been quicker to replace legacy systems with digital PBX.
Although initial costs may be daunting to some businesses, companies will see higher productivity and long-term cost savings by implementing the latest technologies coming to market.
“Even in challenging economic times, there are hard dollar savings to be realized in adoption of these newer collaboration methods,” said Casey.
Scott Strochak, President and CEO
by Scott Strochak, President & CEO
Recently, both Google and Skype have been in the news for their respective "UC" offerings. Google for its recent acquisitions melding together to build a complete UC offering and Skype announcing business class SIP trunking that interoperates with enterprise class phone systems from the likes of Cisco and Skype.
As an integrator of VoIP phone systems and unified communications networks, we are always excited when a major player actively competes in our marketplace. For example, Cisco is touting everything video these days and all of the dollars they are spending on raising awareness of video is very much helping to raise all the ships (see Polycom and Lifesize recent results) in the market.
The same can be said of seeing Google in the UC space. As an enterprise-focused sales organization, we want every consumer out there to use Google voice and the cool apps (single number reach, transcribed voicemail, etc.) that come with it. We then want them to demand similiar services from their office phone. That raises all ships and Xtelesis is in a perfect position to help those enterprise customers.
As for the Skype anouncement, we are very excited about this offer. Giving our customers the ability to hook their phone systems up to the Skype network and get free calling from their Skype users into their phone system (not just computer to computer) is tremendously exciting. Give us a call for more information about how these services can help you communicate better.