Cloud video conferencing service gets facelift

Cloud video conferencing service Blue Jeans Network is throwing a second anniversary birthday party by putting on some glitz.

 
The company said Tuesday that what it calls Blue Jeans 2.0 is a redesign of its interface to make scheduling, sharing content and managing video and audio conferences easier.

(New features include ability to put company brand on the interface. Also, controls are now visibile on one screen, as seen on the right)
 
“This was all based on feedback from hundreds of customers,” Stu Aaron, the company’s chief commercial officer, said in an interview. “While there’s always going to be some small subset of the population that doesn’t like change …from the feedback we’ve gotten people say it’s easier and more streamlined.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is that Blue Jeans can handle up to 25 locations on a call.

Aaron said Canadian customers include several universities and a restaurant chain.

The changes can be grouped in ones that will appeal to meeting co-ordinators and ones that will appeal to IT administrators.

For end users

–Blue Jeans now supports any Web browser, even those that don’t support WebRTC – a standard that allows video conferencing without a plug-in – such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, FireFox and Apple Safari;

–the scheduling capability has been integrated into Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook, so a meeting can be initiated with a click from those applications;

–there are new streamlined connection options that make it possible to join most meetings with one click;

–the new video screen interface includes controls for accessing meeting rosters, layouts and content sharing that were in different places until now. With these controls, for example, a use can decide to make a video screen small and a slide presentation big, or the other way around.

Of note to administrators

–customized branding is now available, so they can put a company name on the interface and add special messages to meeting invitation emails (for example, how to sign in or what documents to bring);

–there’s new group permission controls, that allow administrators to set default parameter for the end points, security, layout and other characteristics;

–for faster provisioning of staff there’s single sign-on with Microsoft Active Directory and SAML. That will particularly be attractive to enterprises with hundreds of employees or more, Aaron said, for they can use existing credentials to quickly get a Blue Jeans account;

–finally, for organizations that want to customize how Blue Jeans integrates with their scheduling or other tools there are APIs for application integration.
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Last month the company also announced changes to its pricing plans. A new “all you can meet” plan includes an unlimited use site-wide licence with tiered annual pricing based on company size and the number of active users (a person who hosts at least one meeting a month).

Blue Jeans says the cost per active user ranges from US$50 per user per month to $10 depending on the size of deployment.

There are also minutes-based plans, an unlimited plan and a plan based on virtual ports.



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