Cisco’s TelePresence: Gaining Momentum?
The next generation of video conferencing technology — dubbed TelePresence by Cisco Systems — has incredible “wow” factor. But it also comes with a big price tag — up to about $300,000 per location for a full conference center deployment. So, is TelePresence a real opportunity for VARs?
Absolutely. Like many other emerging technologies, TelePresence may require another year or two to gain critical mass. But make no mistake about it. Cisco insiders tell The VAR Guy that TelePresence has been among the company’s most successful product launches ever. And they also note that TelePresence is home-grown — rather than acquired technology.
Cisco just landed its first TelePresence sale in Canada. And several Fortune 500 firms are expected to announce purchases in the next few months. For VARs, TelePresence is an opportunity to sell and support total IP video solutions. Also, TelePresence “pods” for specifical vertical markets — such as retail and health care — will likely require ongoing support contracts involving VARs.
With TelePresence, a combination of video, sound and IP telephony creates the illusion that executives located in multiple offices are actually seated in the same executive boardroom. The VAR Guy participated in a TelePresence meeting in October and was impressed.
Still, competition looms for Cisco’s partners. The usual suspects — HP, Polycom, etc. — now sell somewhat similar equipment. And up-and-comers like LifeSize.com are moving into the space.
One VAR Gay pal, Ken DiPietro from NextGen Communications, says LifeSize.com “has a product that rivals every other telepresence system I have ever seen but only uses 1Mbps to connect at 1280 X 720 with 30 Frames per second! Best of all their system starts at $8K/side!”
Sounds impressive. But The VAR Guy isn’t convinced that LifeSize and Cisco’s TelePresence target the same markets. There may be a bit of overlap. But ultimately, TelePresence appeals to corporate board rooms and will move down into vertical markets and branch offices.