Regus Group inks biggest Telepresence deal yet

Cisco has just inked one of its largest deals to date for its new Telepresence technology signing a deal with the Regus Group, a provider of outsourced workplaces across the globe.

Cisco CEO, John Chambers, has described Telepresence as his favorite new technology. It combines 60-inch HD plasma screens, high-definition IP video conferencing, acoustic technology and special conference room furniture.

All of this makes a Telepresence session seem as if remote participants are sitting across the table. Cisco is keen to integrate the technology with its unified communications and VoIP platforms as the next killer app for businesses.

Regus will be the first outsourcer in the world to offer its clients Cisco TelePresence establishing facilities in Sydney, New York, London, Tokyo and Paris.

The deal covers 50 TelePresence systems, the most advanced in a new generation of video collaboration technology, which will be rolled out this month in all five capital cities.

A growing number of companies are utilizing high definition video meetings to reduce travel costs.

Regus Group CEO, Mark Dixon, said the continued globalization of business means regular meetings with international partners are on the rise.

"The costs involved, time required and implications on carbon emissions will mean that business managers will have to prioritize more," he said.

"We have long believed there was a gap for a premium electronic meeting room solution. There is a desire to eliminate unnecessary global travel due to the congestion of airports, cost of travel, demands on time and focus on green issues.

"As business becomes increasingly demanding, we need to be more productive. Electronic and virtual meetings are key to this."

Regus clients include Google, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Nokia and Accenture.

Last month Cisco announced its $3.2 billion acquisition of Web conferencing company, WebEx.

Analysts said the buy is an attempt by Cisco to enhance the strategic value of its Telepresence videoconferencing system.

Forrester Research analyst, Chris Silva, said existing WebEx customers stand to gain, as Cisco integrates the WebEx tool set into its other communication and collaboration offerings, such as Telepresence.

"The union of the two firms will pave the way for customers to grow into more complex, infrastructure-centric collaboration solutions," he said.

The WebEx service has more than 2.2 million registered users.

Silva said WebEx gives Cisco a leg up on competitors in tightly coupling collaboration and unified communications applications with the underlying network infrastructure.

"Being a major infrastructure vendor, Cisco has a potential advantage for tighter integration of unified communications and collaboration tools with the network itself, something Microsoft does not have and something Nortel could develop were it to focus on uniting its hardware and software development resources internally," Silva said.

Ned Hooper, Cisco vice president of corporate business development, won't deny this notion. "We see the network, and the build-out of the network as a platform, certainly as a competitive advantage that Cisco possesses."

(Additional reporting by Network World.)

This story, "Regus Group inks biggest Telepresence deal yet" was originally published by Computerworld.

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