Grappling with Cisco TelePresence, HP Halo drops pricing under half a million

HP Halo Collaboration Studio
Grappling with Cisco TelePresence, HP Halo has dropped pricing from $550,000 when it initially rolled out to $349,000 today. The modular Collaboration Studio has a $249,000 price tag -- with an add-on Halo Gateway, developed with Tandberg, for interoperability with outside systems, for $39,999. HP provides 24/7 concierge support from a central support center for both versions, for a price tag of $18,000 a month.

Darren Podrabsky
"Where Halo really is better is when you have four or more global locations," said Darren Podrabsky - Marketing Manager HP Halo Collaborative Solutions. "At that size the total cost of ownership comes out 20 to to 25 percent lower than the competition." Podrabsky reports similar sales numbers to Cisco's: about 140 studios installed or contracted for, in 22 nations, with about 30 global accounts expected to be booked by the end of Q1 2008. HP is offering extremely competitive pricing in major Pacific Rim cities located in China, India and Australia.
Jon Arnold
"HP faces tough competition from players like Cisco and Tandberg, and both use the channel for their video conferencing plays," said Jon Arnold - principal of Toronto based J Arnold & Associates. "The competition will get more fierce as HP moves down-market." While Halo doesn't have a lot of synergy with the rest of HP's product line and the work HP's partners are already doing, Arnold notes the case is different with Cisco, where Telepresence is also viewed as a networking play.

A new implementation is also a good time to talk to a customer about upgrading their Cisco network. With Halo, HP has built its own network infrastructure. Halo uses a dedicated fiber-optic network to provide a secure, closed system for Halo suites guaranteeing 45 megabits per second bandwidth all the time. "The long-term challenge for the video conferencing market as a whole, is one of standards," said Arnold. "Systems need to be able to operate as seamlessly as the telephone network, and for that to happen vendors will need to agree on common standards."

Charles Stucki - Vice President and General Manager Cisco TelePresence:

Charles Stucki
For about $300,000 an enterprise can purchase the Cisco TelePresence 3000, a video conferencing suite that will pay for itself in one year, by way of reduced travel costs and improved logistics. And if you don't need quite that much presence, you can buy the Cisco TelePresence 1000, a one-screen, small-group version for about $80,000 per room. Cisco's TelePresence systems include all the furniture, which hides a whole lot of technology inside the new cabinets and conference table: cameras and displays, lighting, speakers, microphones and projection technology.

The system operates with H.264 video codecs, native 720p and 1080p high-definition cameras and encoding/decoding; wideband advanced audio coding with low delay; multichannel spatial audio with echo cancellation and interference filters to eliminate feedback from mobile devices, says Cisco. TelePresence uses standard IP technology, and runs on an integrated voice, video and data network with broadband connections. There's IP telephony, and integration with enterprise groupware applications (i.e., Microsoft Office and IBM's Lotus Notes), allowing for scheduling, management, reporting, billing and metrics capture for tracking and billing. The system integrates with key firm software, including Microsoft Office suite, and IBM's Lotus Notes. That means, among other features, that users can schedule meetings through Outlook. Reaching a TelePresence studio, they press a phone pad button to make the call and start the meeting. Cisco advanced technology partners manage the build-outs. Those costs are part of the purchase price, via Cisco's service/support agreement and with no monthly fees its operating costs are comparable to that of a T-1 line.

Which vendor do YOU think offers the most bang for the buck, Cisco or HP? Or do YOU think BOTH are overpriced?

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