Yesterday Cisco announced a nice round of additions to the Cisco TelePresence portfolio, and earlier this week I got to sit in on a TelePresence webinar introducing the new products. This time it was a little personal for me because Cisco representatives also said that these announcements marked the five year birthday of TelePresence. TelePresence was the first blog I wrote on this site in 2007, and I can’t believe it has been that long since it came out. I’ve always been a big fan, of not just Cisco’s telepresence products, but the entire industry, as since its inception, video has become one of the cornerstones of UC, and has truly changed the way that companies can do business.
As for some Cisco statistics, the company claims that they have the broadest video endpoint and infrastructure in the industry, and that currently 50 million users of Cisco collaboration products are now capable of using TelePresence. That is pretty impressive.
The Telepresence announcements had three parts. The first is the extension of TelePresence into the SMB market with the introduction of the Cisco TelePresence Callway, a hosted service that is part of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. SMB customers can purchase or lease personal endpoints to connect to the service, which Cisco is offering at affordable price points in an “all you can eat model” as Cisco put it, ($99 a month for standard, unlimited calling, data sharing, and $149 for premium that adds on support for higher res and meet-me bridging service). It is pretty plug n’ play, with set up of about five minutes. The service is being offered through 14 service providers, and is initially available only in the US.
The second part is an expansion of Cisco’s video endpoint portfolio. This includes:
•Cisco Jabber™Video for TelePresence, which is a standards-based, HD video-calling software application that allows participants to join TelePresence calls from their desktop PCs or laptops. Globally accessible through a website, the person holding the meeting can invite participants to join a TelePresence call for free. A global beta program for this is charted for Q1’12.
•Cisco TelePresence MX300 is Cisco’s newest multi-purpose, room-based TelePresence system, supporting nine people in a room. The new system offers 1080p, 30 frames per second, high-quality video, on a 55” screen, is affordable, and can be set up in as little as 15 minutes quickly. Target GA is Q1’12 worldwide.
The third part of the announcement was a follow on to Cisco’s recent announcements around extending TelePresence to more than just meetings, by enabling customers to capture video from any TelePresence endpoint across their network, and then share that content with any user on any device. In yesterday’s announcement, they introduced a vertical market specific example of this — Cisco TelePresence VX- Clinical Assistant which is a purpose-built, mobile telemedicine cart designed for use in healthcare settings. The VX-Clinical Assistant is a high-definition video collaboration system that will allow healthcare providers to better provide telemedicine, such as remote consultations, medical education, or virtual healthcare teams. GA for this product is also slated for Q1’12.
In the TelePresence announcement meeting Cisco had demonstrations, as well as some customers, including P&G and Singlewire Software. Of course they would only have stellar customers on the call, but they were really interesting. For example, Laurie Heltsley, director, Global Business Services, P&G said that they started off with TelePresence from the beginning five years ago, with 43 rooms and the only thing they could have done better was to have added more. They can’t keep up with demand, even though they are now up to 80. But the most interesting part was that she said that they have saved four dollars in travel costs for every dollar they spent on TelePresence. She also spoke of new ways of using the products. P&G has had challenges growing in Africa, but using TelePresence in kiosks in malls has enabled them to have consultations on beauty products with potential customers.
From the beginnings five years ago when TelePresence was new, but very expensive with a lot of overhead in terms of setting up the rooms, to now, I really believe that Cisco has taken a lot of care in expanding the company’s portfolio so that there are solutions available to any size business, in any form of consumption whether immersive or on a small mobile device at any price point. Happy Birthday TelePresence.