TelePresence: The Next Hardware as a Service?


Watch the video above from Cisco Systems and Tata Communications, and you'll see the "start" of the TelePresence revolution. But where is next-generation video conferencing heading next? Right into the living room, thanks to Cisco, OnForce, LifeSize Communications -- and a range of managed service providers. Here's how the market may unfold, and the roles MSPs and hardware as a service (HaaS) will play.

First, some fast facts:

  • Cisco Systems and Tata are rolling out TelePresence suites in hotels and other public meeting centers across the world.
  • You will be able to rent a TelePresence suite starting at about $299 per room per hour.
  • Roughly 1,000 hotels and public meeting centers worldwide will have the public Cisco TelePresence systems by 2010 or so.
Since high-end TelePresence systems cost about $300,000 per conference room to deploy, Cisco is using the "public meeting center" approach to get the market started and get users hooked on TelePresence.

TelePresence Heads Home

But the story doesn't end there. Companies like LifeSize Communications are promoting TelePresence systems that start at about $10,000. And Cisco itself is designing consumer TelePresence systems that will move into the home. (Cisco also is developing Internet-enabled stereos and other in-home appliances that will be unveiled at CES.)

Meanwhile, many consumers are calling solutions providers to help install home LCD screens, plasma TVs and home theaters. In fact, consumers are accelerating their demand for in-home IT services, according to the OnForce Services Marketplace Index (OSMI), which tracks IT service engagements across the United States.

Video Conferencing Becomes Hardware as a Service

Short term, consumers will begin to ask solutions providers to enhance their home theaters with video conferencing and TelePresence systems.

Longer term, I suspect TelePresence will converge with hardware as a service (HaaS). Consumers and small businesses will pay MSPs, telecom companies and/or cable companies flat monthly fees to set-up, manage and maintain in-home TelePresence systems -- much in the way that we currently pay for cable boxes.

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