Setting an industry precedent, streaming video has been integrated into Microsoft (News - Alert) Office’s Communicator and SharePoint products for the first time through the real-time collaboration of unified communications.
Enterprise IP video provider VBrick Systems today unveiled the first streaming video solution that is fully integrated into Microsoft’s Office Communicator and SharePoint products.
In an exclusive interview with Erik Herz, VBrick’s (News - Alert) video services director, he demonstrated how this integration allows users to collaborate with co-workers by implementing rich media into the familiar unified communications technologies they use every day, including instant messaging, desktop sharing and voice over IP.
Company officials said today’s announcement brings the power of one-to-many video collaboration to the desktop, and marks the latest in a series of milestones that have positioned VBrick as a leader in establishing streaming video as a critical enterprise collaboration technology.
VBrick has over 6,000 corporate, education and government customers and 60,000 installations worldwide. The Wallingford, Conn.-based company’s solutions work over standard IP networks and the Internet to enable the creation, publishing and distribution of rich media content.
John Rubin, vice president of marketing, said that VBrick’s solution for embedding streaming video into unified communications is comprised of two new products: the OCS Streaming Gateway (News - Alert) and the VBrick Enterprise Media System (VEMS)-SharePoint Integration Module. As he explained, the OCS Streaming Gateway combines streaming video with the real-time collaboration capabilities of Office Communicator.
In addition, the VEMS-SharePoint Integration Module equips users to share video-based content from within any SharePoint site. Underneath all of this is the VBrick platform, which performs all the video-specific functions regarding user access, content management, scheduling and network distribution. The Microsoft OCS and SharePoint servers do not require any intervention or additional programming, Rubin added.
Gartner’s (News - Alert) Mark Gilbert, research vice president, said that the unified communications market is one of the most lucrative sectors in IT, “with both vendors and end users capitalizing on the efficiency benefits inherent to the technology,” said Gilbert.
“IP video streaming is beginning to prove itself to be a critical content type and powerful collaboration tool within and beyond the enterprise, and the innovative technology vendors that are aggressively positioning video streaming as an essential component of unified communications are – we believe – poised to capitalize on the growth of this market,” Gilbert added.
Herz also said that today’s announcement is a continuation of VBrick Systems’ leadership role in integrating streaming with the broader communications experience. Customers can also leverage video streaming to create new collaboration approaches and realize much greater business impact than using any single communications approach.
As Herz explained, video streams are accessed within Microsoft applications as “Video Buddies.” Video Buddies are represented by presence icons or “jelly beans” that users can add as a contact to their OCS-enabled Microsoft or third-party applications. Clicking on a Video Buddy icon provides instant access to streaming video content and the ability to simultaneously engage with other users via chat, VoIP or Live Meeting. This capability enables enterprise users to adopt new, more effective workflows, Herz said.
The VBrick executives explained that Video Buddies can deliver live TV channels to the desktop for those employees who depend on timely information about world events. Top-level managers of large organizations can quickly and easily generate organization-wide executive broadcasts. For example, public safety and surveillance personnel can pull down live video streams, and use various collaboration tools to determine the best course of action dictated by the information. Generators of rich media content (HR, Marketing, Training, etc.) can publish this content to SharePoint and have it easily searched and retrieved by their intended audience, according to Rubin.
Rubin said that VBrick already has about $2 million in pre-orders for its new IP video solution.