Repeat After Me: TelePresence Is A Managed Service

Repeat After Me: TelePresence Is A Managed Service

telepresence-managed-servicesTelePresence -- that fancy term for next-generation videoconferencing -- hasn't gone mainstream yet. But I believe the TelePresence market is reaching a tipping point, thanks to falling prices, integration work between networking vendors and service providers, and webcasting capabilities from Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard's Halo. But here's a question for managed service providers: Are you going to make a TelePresence move? Before you answer...

... Consider these four TelePresence trends:

1. Falling Prices: A year or two ago, TelePresence conference rooms cost $300,000 or more to build out, plus monthly maintenance service fees. Now, aggressive start-ups like LifeSize Communications are pushing personalized TelePresence systems that cost $10,000 or so. In fact, we've been hearing rumors that Cisco is taking a close look at LifeSize.

2. Any-to-Any Connections: When TelePresence first launched, videoconferencing connections could only be made within a company intranet. It was like having an internal phone that couldn't dial the outside world.  But that's changing. BT, for instance, has completed an Exchange that allows inter-company TelePresence sessions.

3. TelePresence Room Rentals: Hotels are rapidly building out TelePresence conference rooms. Imagine the following scenario:

  • You're a small managed service provider in New York that has a customer in Florida.
  • Instead of hopping on a flight for an extended face-to-face meeting, you visit a New York hotel with TelePresence capabilities, and your customer visits a Florida hotel that has similar TelePresence capabilities.
  • Now, you play a flat hourly fee for the room and the TelePresence connection.
These on-demand TelePresence rooms are finding homes at airports and on college campuses. Similar to finding a WiFi hotspot five years ago, people will soon search Google Maps for local TelePresence centers where they can conduct TelePresence sessions.

4. Webcasting Capabilities: HP already evangelizes managed services for its Halo TelePresence systems. And just this week, HP introduced webcasting capabilities on Halo -- which sounds to me like HP is countering Cisco's integrated TelePresence-WebEx strategy.

Virtually all customers are now familiar with webcasts. So TelePresence could be a next logical move for them.

The Managed Services Opportunity

There are multiple TelePresence opportunities ahead for MSPs.
  • First, most corporate networks will require significant switch, router and software upgrades to handle TelePresence sesssions.
  • Second, businesses will need somebody to actually build out TelePresence conference rooms, home offices, etc.
  • And third, businesses will need somebody to actually maintain the TelePresence systems -- monitoring and troubleshooting Quality of Service (QoS) issues before they go from minor issues to major problems.
The TelePresence market is still a niche. And I'm sure I've skipped many challenges facing the TelePresence market. But I'm keeping the faith.

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