V-Span launches managed videoconferencing service

Those companies that want to have their own videoconferencing endpoints and related networking equipment in-house but don’t want the hassle of managing it have a new option with this week’s launch of the Video Network Management Service (VNMS) from V-Span Inc.

VNMS builds on V-Span’s core business of bridging ISDN videoconferences between sites with both operator assistance and Web-based scheduling options available. But as more customers move to IP-based videoconferencing systems and bring multi-point control units, gateways and gatekeepers in-house, the company is moving to support that market.

“If a customer buys a bridge, we handle it for them,” says Steve Sida, project manager at V-Span. “We’re applying our hosted model to (the customer’s) infrastructure.”

Among the services available through VNMS are remote equipment monitoring, help desk services, bridge management and equipment services. V-Span uses a variety of network tools, including HTTP and SNMP to ensure both endpoints and networking gear are live before and during a calls. V-Span is part of the beta programs of Tandberg AS and Polycom Inc. — the two major providers of videoconferencing equipment — allowing V-Span to stay up to date on the latest software and hardware releases from the companies.

As part of the help desk services, V-Span offers a graphical user interface that customers can use to view the health of their network, as well as alert services if something goes down and can’t be fixed remotely. Customers can also use the service to call in for help if needed.

“If we know about a device going down at Midnight on Sunday before an 8 a.m. call Monday morning, that gives us eight hours to fix the problem,” Sida, says, comparing it to a client walking in just before a scheduled call only to find out the equipment isn’t working.

V-Span will compete with traditional IP connectivity providers such as Glowpoint Inc. and AT&T Corp., which offer last-mile, backbone and bridging services to customers.

Analysts say managed services should have a bright future.

“Managed services will span the gap between (application service providers) and customer-premise equipment,” said Andrew Davis, principal at Wainhouse Research LLC, at the company’s Summit conference last week. “There will be an enormous market place for managed services in a few years.”

VNMS is priced at US$75 per month per device monitored. Help desk services are available for US$195 per hour, with “buckets” of hours available at a discount rate.

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