Cisco's Telepresence Interoperability Push

By Sean Michael Kerner | Jan 26, 2010 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/news/article.php/3860886/Ciscos-Telepresence-Interoperability-Push.htm

Ever tried having a telepresence meeting with a user that has a different system that yours? It's not easy. That could be about to change thanks to a new telepresence interoperability initiative from networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).

The Cisco Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) effort is a free protocol licensed by Cisco, that enables multi-vendor conferencing. Initial licensees include LifeSize, RADVISION and Tandberg. Lifesize was recently acquired by Logitech for $405 million and Tandberg is in the process of being acquired by Cisco for $3.4 billion. While TIP is not an open standard itself, it builds on existing standards to enable interoperability.

"The Telepresence Interoperability Protocol builds on SIP and is used between media endpoints to signal information related to the various media streams involved in an immersive Cisco TelePresence call," Cisco spokesperson Jacqueline Roy told InternetNews.com. "With open standards such as SIP, we’re able to deliver interoperability with standard and HD video conferencing systems and other collaboration applications while preserving the experience."

Initially Cisco has shared TIP with LifeSize, RADVISION and Tandberg though Roy noted that Cisco offered TIP to all industry players and some vendors are still reviewing the protocol license. Earlier this week, Cisco's networking rival Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) announced a telepresence partnership with video conferencing vendor Polycom.

While TIP itself is not an industry standard, Cisco overall is active in standard bodies and today's TIP announcement is an early step for interoperability standards in telepresence.

"There has been little activity in the video conferencing industry to promote standards necessary for telepresence," Roy said. "Licensing TIP is Cisco’s first activity to achieve interoperability, and we’ll continue to be very active in the standards forums to achieve telepresence interoperability."

Maintaining an immersive telepresence experience

To date there have been several challenges to having telepresence interoperability. Roy commented that the challenge wasn't just about trying to connect systems from different vendors, but is also about maintaining the features users expect with immersive telepresence systems.

"Just as video standards were created, the industry will need to get behind a new set of standards to deliver a new kind of experience for customers," Roy said.

In addition to the TIP announcement, Cisco today announced a pair of new telepresence endpoints to help build out its product portfolio. The two new systems are the Cisco TelePresence System 3010 and the Cisco TelePresence System 3210.

"These systems build on our existing flagship 3000 and 3200 endpoints but provide greater energy efficiencies and improved data sharing using an LCD display," Roy said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.