Comment: The Cisco Video Significance.

Comms Business Magazine’s Maren Bennette looks at the recent announcement by Cisco that the networking giant is to enter the video conferencing market.

“One could say that paying $6.9 billion for Scientific Atlanta to get their Set Top Box video technology was serious – and it was, but in reality it was more about the battle for the living room, with the real prize being the supply of CRS 1 carrier-class routing systems to all those IP NGN’s which want to transport all those movies to a home near you.

And one shouldn’t forget that Cisco spent a much smaller sum – I can’t remember how much, but for Cisco it was loose change – to acquire Sypixx, an IP video surveillance software company, the fruits of which purchase have yet to be seen. Both were moves in the “triple play” that is video: streaming, surveillance and, last but not least, video conferencing. It is the last which is being addressed now.

Of course, for a number of years Cisco has had an OEM arrangement with Radvision for video conferencing MCU’s, and a strong partnership with Tandberg for VC end-points – indeed, the 7985 video phone is a Tandberg product made for Cisco, but they never really put their money where their mouth is (if one discounts the rather low-tech Cisco VT Advantage, a Logitech camera hung on to a PC under the control of a Cisco IP phone and CallManager software).

The development and launch of the TelePresence system, along with the home-grown MCU and management software, is Cisco’s first serious foray into the VC market under its own steam.

Having said that, a telepresence system costing $299,000 for a 12 person meeting and $79,000 for a 4 person meeting isn’t going to shift off the shelves like hot cakes, especially not when Microsoft is talking up their $3,000 Office Roundtable VC system. But the real significance is that they are doing VC at all. When gorillas like Cisco and Microsoft move into a market and start throwing their marketing millions around, something big is going to happen.”

Comms Business Magazine is set to see a demonstration of Cisco TelePresence next week and will then deliver our verdict on the new kit.

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