The cloud videoconferencing market has grown in the last few years from two or three solutions, to over 80.
Despite the crowded field, Pexip is on the short list of companies that I am frequently asked about, and I have been paying very close attention to them from day one. I recently chatted with CEO Simen Teigre to touch base and get a feel for their current position and perspective on the market.
To be clear, Pexip isn’t a cloud service provider, but a software platform developer. Their Infinity platform is well suited for on-prem installation and management at large enterprises. Pexip is also (and already) being leveraged by some big service provider industry names, who install and run the platform in their data centers to power their own cloud video service offerings.
With Enterprise Connect right around the corner, and InfoComm a few months past that, obviously the leading new developments are currently under tight wrap. But I can share my feelings about how Pexip is working to position itself for 2015. The short version is a continuation of what is already working, with continuing development to add platform benefits and capabilities.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Simen. On the one hand he is the CEO of a startup in an extremely competitive industry. On the other hand, he is leading a team of VC execs and developers who have been working together for many years, and who have been responsible for many leading technologies and products over the course of that time. Industry insiders are very familiar with this team, and it is fair to say they have played an important role in the industry’s history. However, I quickly saw that Simen has the start-up CEO mentality. There is no sense of entitlement due to his team’s previous accomplishments, but rather a very clear understanding that Pexip needs to stand out as a platform, and to continue to move very quickly with development to meet the rapidly growing and shifting expectations of today’s users.
As a side note, I expect a new trend to form over the next few years, where we focus more on development teams, and less on current product iterations. Today the tendency would be to test and compare the latest version of Pexip to its competitors. I believe this is a throwback to the old hardware days and makes less and less sense in a software world. With many software video companies on a 6 week development cycle, and new trends aligning constantly, not to mention Google and Microsoft regularly changing the rules of the game, I care more about the development team behind my platform than I do about its current feature set. I want to know that if I choose to go down the road with a certain platform and the communications world turns itself upside down over something new in 6 months, that the platform will be quickly modified to accommodate. If I am right about this trend, companies known for their people as well as their platform, like Pexip, will find themselves in a very good position.
Pexip offers a number of benefits which really resonate with their enterprise customers, as well as service provider partners. In particular, the platform may be best known for its massive scalability. The Pexip platform is called “Infinity” for a reason. As a virtualized machine, new instances can be turned up, or expanded, on servers at any location for true distribution. In other words, adding 10, or 100, or 1000 virtual meeting rooms to an account is simply a matter of changing software settings. The word “scalability” has a different meaning in our industry than it had a few years ago. When we talk about scaling up, we no longer mean going from 3 conference rooms to 60 conference rooms. We are now talking about creating and supporting personal virtual rooms for potentially tens of thousands of users for a single account. For a major service provider looking to add videoconferencing to its current offerings, this type of scalability has to be achievable and affordable.
I was surprised and impressed to learn that some of their users leverage the flexibility of the Pexip platform to increase video use, while decreasing the use of WAN bandwidth. They do this by installing and running Pexip on a local server. As a result, all local calls (within the building) are run through that local Pexip. With many competitive platforms, all calls must be routed through the cloud, even if they are within the same building, which could potentially add latency, call quality issues, and cost.
Another big Pexip point of pride is their Lync (Skype4B) integration. While some kind of Lync story is pretty much required of any cloud video vendor at this point, Pexip claims to be taking a leadership role with features such as full quality presentation share both to and from Lync. Again, with Microsoft’s tendency to change its Lync plans at the drop of a hat, I think Pexip’s commitment to stay on top of Lync integration and development is just as important as today’s implementation.
I look forward to checking in with the Pexip team at Enterprise Connect for a deeper dive into the platform and its development plans for the rest of 2015. Be sure to follow our EC coverage for the rest of the story.