Cisco on mission to outfit all office rooms with videoconferencing systems

Cisco is on its mission to outfit all office rooms with videoconferencing systems. New and improved products are set to ship in the spring, aimed at what Cisco considers to be a vastly underserved market.

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Cisco unveiled on Wednesday an array of Cisco Video conferencing products as it seeks to provide video collaboration systems for meeting rooms of all sizes. Most conference rooms either lack video conferencing equipment altogether or have systems that don’t work properly, so Cisco is going after that market opportunity, according to Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group.

“We’re not going to rest until every single room in every single business all over the world has extraordinary video conferencing and collaboration equipment. That’s our mission,” he said during a press conference. While Trollope articulated Cisco’s goal in hyperbolic terms, it’s clear the company sees a big gap that’s waiting to be filled, and it intends to go after what it views as a grossly underserved business video conferencing market.

With companies like Microsoft is also making a strong push with its Lync unified communications server, which can be deployed on customer premises and, with a subset of the functionality, accessed via the Office 365 public cloud suite. Other competing providers of UC and video conferencing systems in particular include IBM, Avaya, Siemens’ Unify, Alcatel-Lucent, Mitel and ShoreTel. But, of course, Cisco has been a big player in video conferencing an training for years, catering to the low-end of the market with its WebEx line of products and to the high-end with its whole-room Tandberg systems.

Cisco has traditionally provided a “no compromise” experience via its high-end “immersive” telepresence systems, but what’s been missing is the ability to replicate that in conference and office rooms of any size, he said”. If you’re going to have something for every single room in the world, it needs to be do-it-yourself,” he said. That way, business managers can unpack and set up the videoconferencing equipment in the three or four conference rooms in their office area without need special technical help, according to Trollope. “What I’m driving for is making collaboration simple. That’s my strategy,” he said.

Cisco also wants its videoconferencing products to take advantage of every screen and device available in a conference room, including those that are brought by meeting participants, like smartphones and tablets, and those already there, like flat panel monitors.

For small rooms, Cisco is announcing the second-generation version of the TelePresence MX200, an integrated, floor-standing system with an HD, 42-inch display, and embedded 4-way multi-party conferencing. And the TelePresence MX700 and MX800 systems for midsize and large rooms, which support the H.265 video coding technology for reducing bandwidth without affecting image quality. The MX200 starts at $17,900, while the other two start at $49,900. The TelePresence SX10 Quick Set is a aimed at small and midsize businesses that have flat-panel displays in meeting rooms, because its components can turn the displays into a videoconferencing system in under 10 minutes, according to Cisco. It starts at $3,999.

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