Lifesize Takes Video Collaboration to the Cloud with WebRTC

In a world of easy, free consumer video collaboration, Lifesize aims to provide an enterprise-grade solution.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 22, 2014
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Connecting different video endpoints together for enterprise video collaboration is about to get a bit easier, thanks to a new cloud technology from Lifesize.

This week, Lifesize announced its Lifesize Cloud service, an attempt to make it easier for users to connect with each other for enterprise-grade video collaboration. It's a business that faces its fair share of challenges, not the least of which is the simple fact that many people today are used to getting video collaboration for free or at very low cost with consumer services like Skype and Apple's Facetime.

"Skype is great, but no one is going to scale a business with an open directory of 600 million users on Skype," Craig Malloy, CEO of Lifesize, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

The Lifesize Cloud service enables users and organizations to connect for video collaboration. Malloy explained that the cloud piece provides users with an instant directory capability without the need for any on-premises directory system. The system works with any video system that supports the SIP protocol for communications.

Lifesize also supports the emerging WebRTC (Real Time Communications) protocol that is part of the latest Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.

"A user just needs to go to www.lifesize.com/webrtc, which will open up a calling web page within the browser without the need for any additional plug-ins," Malloy explained.

The way new users get added to a Lifesize Cloud based call is with a simple email or calendar invite, which will open up and connect to the video collaboration session.

"I think you'll see directionally that WebRTC will get more traction over the course of the next few years," Casey King, CTO of Lifesize, told Enterprise Networking Planet. "It's still nascent and it's not an official standard yet, but it will all get sorted out."

There have been other protocol-level initiatives in recent years for enterprise collaboration interoperability, including the Cisco-led Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) effort. King said that Lifesize has not participated at all in TIP.

Lifesize also does not stress the need for any purpose-built networking acceleration hardware or private networking equipment to enable video collaboration. The Lifesize Cloud works over the public Internet and leverages the IBM Softlayer Cloud at the back end.

"We have found the public Internet to be extremely reliable, robust and stable, and the fear that some people try and put into consumers' minds about it, is not really true," King said.

King added that Lifesize encrypts video streams to help secure content. From a data transport perspective, Lifesize also leverages forward error correction technology to be able to actively protect video streams from errors.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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