Who’s the King of VCaaS collaboration?
Cloud Video Conferencing, Video Conferencing as a Service, or VCaaS, has absolutely exploded over the last few years and especially in the current situation. Adoption has been rapid, with many enterprises keen to embrace a video-first culture. After all, used correctly, video boosts productivity, enhances engagement, and even keeps remote teams connected.
The use cases for VCaaS are plentiful and growing by the day. However, that’s not what we’re going to address today. For those of you who are already enamoured by the idea of video in the workplace, we’re going to examine some of the top video conferencing providers in the market.
In no particular order, here are your leading VCaaS choices for 2020.
Zoom is making a lot of noise, not just the in VCaaS space, but in the entire comms industry and on the stock exchanges. Valued at an incredible $16 billion after its first day of trading on the public market, Zoom is a name with a lot of weight in the marketplace.
Zoom offers a combination of fantastic features, from audio and video conferencing at the click of a button, to webinars and hardware room systems. Zoom’s main advantage is how easy it is to use. With Zoom, you can connect with countless internal and external employees, without having to download any software. You can also add some fun to your Zoom Meetings with things like virtual video backgrounds.
As well as video conferencing with screen-sharing and co-annotation, Zoom is also making strides in the UCaaS environment too, introducing it’s own business phone system. Zoom Phone is a service rapidly gaining popularity, by allowing companies to have all their VoIP, collaboration and connectivity tools in the same place. There’s even Zoom Chat, ideal for instant messaging, emoji reactions and more.
Poly is the combined company that emerged when Polycom and Plantronics joined forces. Both Polycom and Plantronics have been shaping the landscape of equipment in the VCaaS industry for some time.
Polycom Studio allows a user or team to be armed with their own USB device so any PC or Mac user can utilise Polycom Studio to enhance audio and video meeting experiences. Users of video conferencing applications like Amazon Chime, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and more will be able to experience HD audio and video quality via various Poly devices as they continue to push the interoperability agenda.
During ISE 2020, Poly also introduced the arrival of Poly Lens to boost video conferencing experiences. This solution comes with access to device management features for IT teams, intelligent insights into user data, and more. You can even access all the benefits of Lens for video on the cloud, making for a convenient and reliable VaaS investment.
BlueJeans is another sensational fuss-free video conferencing tool. This zero-download VCaaS option is available in Meetings, Rooms and Events flavours. BlueJeans is a favoured option for businesses with varying users across different companies and departments. Their meeting solutions simply work via a browser.
Outside of a browser, BlueJeans works seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Office 365, Google Calendar, Slack, Splunk and Trello, to name a few. App switching is currently a hot topic being addressed by IT Managers and productivity protesters. By utilising the BlueJeans API, you can add cloud-powered video calls to your own applications.
BlueJeans also offers a Rooms service, ideal for building huddle and conference spaces in the modern office. You can also access webinar tools via things like ClickMeeting. Recently, BlueJeans introduced smart meetings to bring more machine intelligence to the conversational environment.
BlueJeans AI in the video collaboration space provides things like auto-shareable summaries from meetings, and transcript-enriched meeting notes. What’s more, BlueJeans is also working with mobile leaders to invest in 5G mobile conferencing too!
PGi’s flagship VCaaS product is GlobalMeet. Key features of the meeting solution include the GlobalMeet Widget which addresses multi-tasking issue during meetings. You can even access functionality with the meeting screen minimised as you switch between other apps.
Live transcripts and summaries are available during and after a meeting. Users can follow a meeting in areas when they need to be in attendance but perhaps have a sensitive or loud environment surrounding them. GlobalMeet provides industry-leading event software solutions too, so you can launch full training sessions or broadcasts.
Active directory integrations are available with Office 365, so the meeting solution is tied in with your Outlook and Office contacts. In enterprises, where staff and departments are distributed across multiple sites, knowing who your meeting helps a great deal.
The video-first collaboration platform has now been transformed into a fully-fledged Unified Comms as-a-Service (UCaaS) solution. Replacing the legacy phone system has rapidly become more than just rip and replace. Businesses now understand the available features that moving from on-premises PBXs to cloud collaboration platforms can bring – as well as the short term and long-term benefits that a business will gain.
Intrado offers video conferencing that stems from the company’s Intercall roots. Long established as leaders in the audio conferencing sector, Intrado now provides a virtual face-to-face experience with any audience from anywhere at any time on any device.
Intrado’s VCaaS portfolio is split into three options. They have strong partnerships with both BlueJeans and Cisco Webex and have previously won high accolades accentuating their partner status with both vendors.
InterCall Unified Meeting 5 is Intrado’s own take on video conferencing. Here, you can benefit from the usual suspects of the video meeting world like screen sharing and file uploads. The familiar HD audio conferencing from Reservationless-Plus ties in with HD video services to take existing conference users to the next level where you can join online meetings with one click from the Unified Meeting 5 desktop app.
Most impressively, Intrado suggests that even if your network connection is unreliable, your video streaming will be continuous and distortion-free. This is wonderful news for users connecting in remote areas or on the move.
StarLeaf provides a wide selection of meeting and video conferencing solutions to suit businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. One of the things that makes the company so compelling, is the fact that it plays well with others. StarLeaf is interoperable with Skype for Business and any leading system like Polycom, Cisco, Lifesize, and Zoom solutions.
The StarLeaf Cloud enables instant deployment so there is minimal delay in getting started with the StarLeaf app. Within StarLeaf, you can engage in conferencing sessions with bi-directional support for screensharing and other great features.
Meetings can be recorded- including all content like video, chat and audio – for after the event information to be reviewed and stored. StarLeaf Encore is also a particularly useful feature for getting as much as possible out of your video meetings or training sessions. With Encore, you can record all video, audio, and screen sharing in a session, to review what was discussed later.
StarLeaf APIs move the StarLeaf meeting and video experience into apps like Slack and BlueJeans to remove the need for constant app switching. StarLeaf also transforms the standard desk phone into a device that can instantly join video conferences.
Cisco is one of the best-known companies in the communication landscape, so it’s probably no surprise that they’re doing well in the video conferencing arena. Since the acquisition of Webex, Cisco has developed a robust collaboration environment, complete with meetings, file sharing, and video.
Webex’s VCaaS options come as either Cisco Webex Meetings as a standalone product or embedded within the collaboration client. Features such as content sharing, meeting recording etc all come as standard. What’s more, you can build various fantastic video solutions into your office with Cisco hardware too. Cisco is even playing well with others these days, offering various extensions, integrations, and even connections with Microsoft!
Perhaps one of the most exciting evolutions in the Cisco VCaaS space lately has been the introduction of the company’s new cognitive collaboration context. Essentially, Cisco believes that more cognition is required in the modern meeting environment. This means adding artificial intelligence to the meeting space so that people can use things like People Insights to get to know other meeting attendees before a conversation begins.
Microsoft established its VCaaS play with Skype for Business Online. Full of features and functionality, the Lync replacement became a quick business favourite adopting the familiar Skype look and feel.
With functionality like screen sharing, video and calendaring as standard, additional bolt ons like meeting recording and whiteboards made Skype for Business the go-to video product for enterprises.
As the collaboration market evolved and matured, Microsoft started to move away from Skype for Business and into “Teams” instead. Offering an upgraded and enhanced version of Skype, Microsoft Teams now has more than 44 million daily active users.
Teams offers sensational security, screen sharing, and video collaboration, within an environment that’s deeply embedded into the Microsoft ecosystem. You can meet with anyone, anywhere, through your Microsoft apps, or even on your smartphone. What’s more, there’s AI built into various aspects of the Teams experience today too, allowing for smarter conversations.
Users can rely on Microsoft Teams for everything from video conferencing with background blurring, to video conversations that include real-time inline transcription.
GoToMeeting is a long-time preferred tool for business to get together before the video conferencing boom. Traditionally, businesses would connect with client via the audio meeting tool. Through their dominance before video conferencing, GoToMeeting can boast 18 million worldwide users per month, 80 million online meetings per year and suggests that businesses close deals 20% faster using their meeting technology.
Over the years, GoTo has built on its video collaboration solution, offering new partnerships so that companies can use Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting at the same time. What’s more, GoToMeeting solutions are available to access on any platform, so you’re free to empower your teams wherever they are. The GoToMeeting platform is packed full of tools.
These include full video and team messaging capabilities, automated transcripts to minimise note-taking, options to meet now or intelligently schedule and customisable settings on a team or department basis.
GoTo recently extended the functionality of its service to include integrations with Docebo, which allow for GoToWebinar and GoToTraining for businesses that want to expand their employees’ skills. You can also integrate GoToMeeting with your Google Calendar and Office 365 tools to create a more consistent workflow.
Google Hangouts Meet is Google’s flagship VCaaS product. This solution works alongside Google Hangouts Chat – the tool available for instant messaging in the G-Suite. As Google strives to make the G Suite more appealing to enterprise users, Meet and Chat are growing rapidly in popularity.
Meet is fully integrated with G Suite, so you can join meetings directly from a Google Calendar event or email invite. Event details are carried forward, whether you’re joining from a laptop, phone or the conference room. G Suite’s enterprise edition also creates a dial-in phone number for each meeting so users without access to WiFi can join with ease. It’s often easy to forget that mobility is a key consideration when it comes to video conferencing.
Teams using Skype for Business or meeting systems based on SIP and H.323 standards like Polycom and Cisco can seamlessly join a Hangouts Meet meeting via the Pexip Infinity Platform.
Hangouts Meet hardware connects any meeting room or huddle space to a video meeting with a single click.
Avaya has come a long way in the last few years, evolving to embrace a more digital mindset. Since its merger with RingCentral, we’ve seen a lot of growth in the Avaya portfolio, including the arrival of Avaya Spaces. The concept for Spaces was originally introduced at Avaya ENGAGE, and it offers today’s businesses a fantastic integrated environment for team collaborations and web-based meetings.
With Avaya Spaces, business users can combine messaging, content sharing, meeting tools, and task management within a browser or a mobile device. The communication and collaboration tool is designed to provide the enhancement in CX and UX that today’s businesses need. This software is now available in more than 60 countries and comes with a host of crucial capabilities.
There are integrations available with other leading tools like Microsoft Office and Teams, Google, and Slack. What’s more, you can integrate with the Avaya IX huddle room and SIP-based room systems to create the perfect conferencing experiences too. With HD video meetings for up to 500 participants, content sharing and recording all built in, Avaya Spaces could be a great choice for businesses in search of a tool with amazing communication heritage.
Avaya isn’t the only communications leader dipping its toes into the video collaboration waters. RingCentral, a leading provider of collaboration and communication services in the cloud, also recently announced its own service for VCaaS. RingCentral Video is a state-of-the-art video meetings solution which takes advantage of the open RingCentral platform.
Offered as a component of RingCentral Office, the Video solution gives businesses access to a convenient environment for work-anywhere opportunities. RingCentral Video is committed to raising the bar in the online meeting and collaboration space, with a completely browser-based video experience. There are no downloads required, and you can access everything from business voice to SMS in the same environment.
RingCentral Video builds on a high-availability infrastructure and offers compliance with many of the leading standards in the world today like HIPAA and GDPR. What’s more, you can integrate with RingCentral with Slack, Microsoft Teams, G-Suite and more.
For those who need to track meeting success, there’s access to an analytics platform within RingCentral video where you can track things like user adoption too.
Crestron is working on entering the video environment with a host of all-in-one video solutions. For instance, the Crestron Mercury room kit is a complete video conferencing solution that allows people to work together seamlessly regardless of which software they’re using.
With a one cable to table design, Crestron’s Mercury offering simplifies the process of setting up a reliable meeting room. You can use any soft phone, UC application or web conferencing tool to collaborate instantly from a laptop or device. The solution integrates with Zoom, Amazon Chime, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex and more.
With things like built-in AirMedia gateways to allow for secure and wireless presentations in any room, and high-level audio built into the speaker and microphone systems, you can rest assured that every meeting with be enterprise-grade and full of quality. Mercury also connects directly with Microsoft Exchange so you can upgrade your room scheduling initiatives too.
With the Crestron XiO cloud IoT service, you can also simultaneously configure and provision a huge number of Crestron Consoles and reduce installation time significantly too.
Lifesize is making waves in the video collaboration world for a few reasons lately. The company introduced the world’s first global 4K video conferencing solution, perfect for businesses that want to collaborate in video without compromising on quality.
What’s more, Lifesize makes it easy to host quick and easy video calls with your team, either from your browser or phone with no downloads required. There are video conferencing solutions available from the brand to suit virtually any space, from huddle rooms to boardrooms. Additionally, Lifesize plays well with others, working alongside tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Cisco Webex and more.
With Lifesize Go, businesses can even access free and unlimited video conferencing for up to 8 people at a time. You don’t need to download anything for this service, and there aren’t any costs applied until you need to upgrade to a bigger meeting. There aren’t even limitations on how long you can host your free conferences for.
To start a meeting from LifeSize Go, all you need to know is initiate a call from your browser and copy/paste the link to the people you want to meet.
Vonage Meetings is one of the latest products offered by Vonage Business Communications. The company designed the solution to enhance its UC offering, and provide a convenient collaboration environment for business users.
Vonage Meetings is easy-to-use with a convenient user interface and a system for recording your meetings, in case you need to share or evaluate them later. You can start a meeting from either a team messaging app or VBC desktop app and create dedicated dial-in numbers for people without an internet connection. Vonage also offers Google calendar integration for scheduling too.
Vonage is great for businesses that want to give their guests and contractors a way to connect with them using nothing but a link on a browser. You don’t need to download anything, and there’s the option to share screens during conversations too. You can set up contact lists, or just invite the people you want to connect with to your meeting via email.
Enghouse Systems is another leading company in the communication space that’s experimenting in the world of video conferencing. This global software company embraced the video landscape after acquiring Vidyo, a leading brand in the video collaboration space.
The Vidyo Connect and Engage Solutions are now immersed into the Enghouse environment to deliver more opportunities to the wide range of customers that Enghouse serves. Enghouse’s offerings are particularly appealing to those in the Financial, Healthcare, and Government sectors.
Whether you’re embedding real-time video collaboration into your existing applications using the rich APIs available from Enghouse, or you’re using integrations in the VidyoCloud environment, there’s something for everyone. What’s more, Vidyo’s platform is also designed to work well with any environment or application.
You can build Enghouse’s solution into any network or environment and communicate through any device to deliver a high-quality experience to your team and outside collaborators too.
Gather is an easy-to-use and intuitive white-label video conferencing and web collaboration service. Unlike some of the other VCaaS solutions that we’ve covered on this list so far, Gather targets service providers specifically. With Gather, QSPs can offer a collaboration and web conferencing service that’s designed to fit under their brand.
The Gather system supports a Freemium to Premium offer, which enables Service Providers to give their customers a more complete native video and collaboration offer. There’s class-leading video and audio collaboration services included within the technology, as well as integrated digital marketing platforms through HubSpot.
Because the Gather API is accessible, you can adjust it to suit your needs, what’s more, the high-functionality and 100% secure system is easy to use for all brands. One particularly compelling thing about Gather is that you can use it to implement advanced collaboration features into your roadmap. Premium service options include live streaming, sentiment analysis, advanced analytics, and transcription services too.
The Pexip brand simplifies video communication and collaboration across businesses borders, and platforms across the globe. Pexip is one of the leading communication brands in the world today, known for it’s secure and reliable comms tools. With Pexip video conferencing, today’s brands can access reliable and high-performing video collaboration with complete interoperability.
The interoperability at the heart of Pexip’s offering is part of what makes the tool so compelling. You can connect all of your video conferencing technology into a central and single solution. Pexip offers support for tools like Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Meet. What’s more, you can access all of those services in the same workflow.
Another big bonus of Pexip for your VCaaS service, is that it’s provided in a range of flexible deployments. You can access Pexip over the cloud, as a self-hosted solution or on-premise. It’s totally up to you.
The 8×8 brand offers a Video Meetings solution that’s designed to get today’s businesses collaborating seamlessly over video, without any restrictions. The solution comes with an intuitive interface that helps to minimize adoption frictions. You can schedule and start meetings easily, with no registration required and no downloads or plugins to worry about.
Additionally, there’s also a completely free version of the 8×8 video conferencing system available, with no limit on how long you can continue to use the service. Even with the free offering, you’ll have unlimited access to fully functional HD video and audio, as well as multi-user file sharing capabilities.
The free and standalone version of 8×8 is optimised to work on any browser, including Firefox and Chrome, or you can use your 8×8 video meeting desktop apps instead. There are plenty of mobile apps and calendar plugins available too. What’s more, 8×8 also offers the option to pair your video conferencing tools with your hardware and huddle spaces through 8×8 Meeting Rooms technology.
More information on all of the VCaaS options is available on the vendors respective websites. There is loads of content across each of the brands highlighted in this post across UC Today. For any specific queries, views or help with a product, please reach out in the comments or on social media.