Cisco router rival invests in Cisco video foe

Juniper takes stake in Vidyo, maker of software-based telepresence for enterprises, clouds

Juniper has invested in Vidyo, a competitor of Cisco's in videoconfencing. Juniper is a strategic investor in Vidyo through its Junos Innovation Fund, which invests in software start-ups targeting emerging markets.

Terms of Juniper's stake were not disclosed but the Cisco rival joins lead investor QuestMark Partners and other existing investors Menlo Ventures, Rho Ventures, Star Ventures, and Four Rivers Group to raise Vidyo's funding to $97 million. Vidyo said Juniper's investment allows it to build up go-to-market activities and integrate its telepresence-style videoconferencing software with Juniper's routers and switches.

Vidyo has more than 1,850 enterprise, healthcare, education and government customers. Juniper views video as an expanding market, especially with mobile devices proliferating in enterprises, and is looking to have its products participate in it by integrating technology to improve the experience for business customers.

Vidyo, citing data from Infonetics Research, says $22 billion will be spent on videoconferencing and telepresence over the next five years.

Vidyo's software supports H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC)-based compression and is designed to dynamically optimize video for each endpoint. The software eliminates the multipoint control unit (MCU) and works over the Internet, LTE and 4G networks, the company says.

Vidyo's secret sauce is connecting any type of video-capable device with any other and optimizing the quality of the session based on the hardware capabilities and network performance on each link, all via a software-based router. This approach eliminates the need for compatible MCUs at each participating site in a videoconference and replaces it with Vidyo clients on each machine connecting via a Vidyo Router.

This is in contrast to Cisco's approach to telepresence, in which dedicated conference rooms are established to host life-size, fully immersive HD videoconferences. These rooms, and equipment, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cisco, though, is taking steps to make its TelePresence offerings more accessible to a broader audience. Last year it unveiled two endpoints and a free client application for ad hoc participants to download. The free client application, Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence, is designed to let just about anyone with a PC or Mac join a TelePresence session.

Meanwhile, Vidyo last year unveiled the virtual videoconference by adapting its software to run as virtual machines in a cloud environment. This would save users and service providers the additional cost of physical infrastructure, the company said at the time.

And earlier this year, Vidyo rolled out a program to help service providers establish a virtual videoconferencing service on both a wholesale and retail basis.

Cisco's TelePresence platforms can also be used as the foundation for cloud-based videoconferencing services from service providers.

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