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May 06, 2009

Conferencing in a VoIP World

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director


If you’ve been following the business communications space recently, you’re keenly aware of emphasis on cost reduction and collaboration — two seemingly conflicting goals. The truth is, those two ends are precisely what conferencing providers deliver to their customers, and they are seeing increased demand for their services.
 
That demand, according to recent research, is resulting a 28 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — which means it will soon eclipse 50 billion minutes of use annually.
 
Want to put a dollar figure on that?
 
Looking at conference bridges alone — that’s excluding the service element — Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) says that market will hit the $200 million mark by 2014.
 
AMI Partners says the audio conferencing market for SMBs, specifically, will hit $2.6 billion by 2012 and that video conferencing will grow to $164 million by 2012, up from $100 million reported in 2006.
 
So, there’s definitely a growing demand, driven by the economy, and exacerbated at times by specific events like the swine flu epidemic, which simply offers an opportunity for service providers to highlight the benefits of their conferencing solutions.
 
Naturally, increased demand tends to entice new providers to enter the market — some entirely new, others are existing players adding conferencing capabilities to their offerings. It’s the same phenomenon that created a seemingly endless supply of localized VoIP providers a few years back.  Either way, the end result it that competition is growing, and service providers have to leverage technology in order to succeed — meaning, they need to be able to find ways to deliver their conferencing services more efficiently and more affordably and more reliably. 
 
As with any communications service today, the obvious answer is to look to an all-IP architecture, which will allows providers to not only reduce their own costs, but also to cut time to market with new, innovative solutions that will deliver the cost efficiencies and productivity enhancements businesses are so desperately seeking. That includes features like, integrated voice and Web communication, click to conference capabilities, calendar integration, mobile conferencing, and even video.  The key is that providers can do it in a way that allows them to easily scale to meet future growth demands, without the fear of having to replace their hardware as they grow.
 
As a service provider, if you want to survive in this new, next generation communications market, making the move to all-IP is not a question of if, but when. To that end, there’s no time like the present, especially with the capabilities of today’s IP media servers, which perform real-time processing of media streams in an IP environment, reduce the cost per port, and significantly reduce physical footprint — all while leveraging open standard increasing your ability to leverage existing and future equipment from other vendors as you build out your IP networks.
 
Today’s IP media servers are also flexible enough to accommodate future needs, having been designed to enable you to, for instance, layer additional telepresence or video conferencing offerings as they become necessary, again without having to replace your infrastructure allowing you to further develop new revenue streams quickly and cost effectively.
 
I hosted a Webinar earlier today, called, Untapped Opportunities in Audio Conferencing, which featured Marc Beattie, Managing Partner and Principle Analyst at Wainhouse Research. Marc’s focus is the collaboration & conferencing markets, and he brings with him a wealth of experience from earlier stints at PictureTel and Polycom. Adding to the discussion on trends in the conferencing space, Marc was followed by Ray Adensamer, senior product marketing manager at RadiSys (News - Alert), which develops the media servers that help CSPs quickly and cost effectively bring their conferencing services to market.

If you missed the event, be sure to sign up to view the archived version. Not only did Marc and Ray detail the market opportunity, but they also answered a host of logical follow-up questions addressing the future of the market and the forces driving its growth globally.

This event, though, was only the beginning. RadiSys will be sponsoring three more Webinars in this series, with the next session scheduled for Wednesday, June 17 at 10:00am ET, which will focus on how IP Media Servers are helping service providers and network operators handle the strain of today’s struggling economy.
 
Understanding the market demand is the first step, but in June, Ray will help providers take the next step — understanding how they can leverage that demand. So, while you register for the archived version of the first event in this series, take a moment to also sign up for Doing More with Less: How IP Media Servers help Network Operators and Telecom Developers during Lean Economic Times.
 
If you have any designs on making it in the conferencing market, these events will provide you the information and tools to succeed.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask




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