By Corey Moss
Back in April of 2013, a post in the LinkedIn Group Video conferencing-as-a-Service (VaaS) was placed by a gentleman which read as follows:
Can anybody in the group provide a comparison for players like xxx, yyy, zzz? Specially [sic]on the technology side? Thanks a lot (note: the names have been converted to x,y,z for this blog).
Immediately after the original post, comments were posted in the group referring to his questions with the reasons given, in fact the first targeted all three of the particular solutions. David Maldow, at the time with Telepresence Options (and where I first became aware of his standing in the industry) referred in one of his posts to a list put out by TPO (the list is on page two). It was of course a very short list of players at the time. In fact, two of the three mentioned solutions providers weren’t among the list (I’m sure they were entered not long after). Some of the current major players weren’t even a glint in the public industry eye at the time.
As is usually the case in these group posts, it didn’t take long for one of the solutions providers to jump in, although it was done tastefully and un-biased versus others that I see at times in AV/UCC-related groups that almost try to hard-sell their solution to us right there in the post (even offering a free trial). Right after his, a high-level representative of another company chimed in (and actually a good friend of mine) with a fairly unbiased approach but did a bit of a “soft-sell,’ still ok by me though since it was actually the truth at the time (and may still be today). Now I had actually only been aware of one two of the three at the time (and had been a user of one), however what’s interesting is that I am currently a big user of the one that I wasn’t aware of at the time. In fact their solution continues to improve by leaps and bounds (getting to that later). In fact David put him on a short list of people, or should I say experts to talk to about video conferencing at that time (and I still consider him to be one at this point in time).
Posted comments continued till August 2013 and then ended with a comment from one solutions’ provider CTO’s who pitched his company’s solution, but in a fairly soft-sell manner as well. I received a notification nine days ago and when I clicked the link, I was fairly stunned to see that a conversation that ended in the middle of last year picked up again. In fact the poster inquired again about a comparison of one of the solutions mentioned in the original post against one of the trending market solutions of the moment. At that point I had to chime in, and posted this comment:
I think the chart (note: I was referring to Wainhouse Research’s chart of entities in the UCC space) is starting to grow a little too large at this point for the good of UCC. Comparisons are becoming more difficult to make as many who post don’t even include major industry players, but still may include lesser-knowns. I think it’s time to start separating the players in the industry into more defined spaces in UCC. Interop is key, who does that as good if not better than others? If it’s an organization that deploys software-defined networks, is a VM solution then the best fit? I know some of the best VM providers out there that you can’t compare many to. Many work on mobile devices at this point but who works best in the mobile WiFi environment? I’ve heard some stories about those that don’t perform as well over WiFi.
I saw a cloud VC application the other day that I never heard thing one about and I know a good many. It looked like a step above Skype and I was actually incredulous as to how a company would use it. It’s time to whittle this down already and stop comparing choice A to choice B relatively undefined in a “can you compare” statement. I’m sure that’s NOT what the ends users want. As David Maldow had said a good while back, there is certainly a short list that all should pay attention to. David actually followed up my post with a comment stating that the short list is getting longer and that we don’t just have a “rush” of new entries, some of them are pretty interesting (and I agree).
However, it was at that point that an executive from Wainhouse Research entered into the discussion and posted that they has just published a list of, wait for it… over 80 providers of Video Conferencing as a Service (inclusive of video conferencing bridging and video calling services). In fact, incredulously, one of the current powerhouse providers in the market was still not on the list. How were they still a forgotten entity after having blazed a path in the industry over the last six months and are scoring wins left and right. In fact, their first night party and celebration at InfoComm was truly a major event and I sat with their marketing executive at lunch one day recently, discussing all of their major wins over the past few months. And even more incredibly, one of the ones on TPO’s original list and a long-time major player in the market was also sight unseen. I say to this – really Wainhouse? Here is the, what I consider, lengthy list of providers in the space – take a few minutes to dissect it. Of course there is much more in-depth reporting available if you decide to purchase their research report. The last commenter asked David if he could include the company I just mentioned to the list. Chaos? You betcha.
As we the technologists, resellers, integrators and end users try to figure out the who’s, what’s and where’s of UCC, it’s high time to separate out the real enterprise players from the mid-markets to the smaller market focused – however I’m sure the smaller market players consider themselves to be straight in line with the majors who have the highest level of interoperability and actual feature-sets to offer the enterprise. Time to dissect the UCC realm further. Wainhouse’s high level research is a good basis for decision-making, however it’s for all of us involved to fully untangle the situation at hand among what are considered the right solutions for current markets in terms of what they have to offer.
With all of this being said, I believe it’s high time to turn UCC chaos and confusion into UCC reason and respectability…