There are virtual servers and virtual switches. Coming soon is a virtual video conferencing session processor.
Vidyo Inc. says that next year it will begin selling a version of its VidyoRouter appliance that will run as a virtual machine anywhere in the cloud. As a result, Vidyo customers won’t have to deploy the devices in far-flung countries for hosting local video conferences. Instead, a virtual instance of the VidyoRouter can be put either in a remote corporate data centre or a cloud offering from a service provider.
As a result, the company says, the cost of videoconferencing will drop.
“It takes [videoconferencing] up a level in terms of scalability, flexibility, affordability,” said Young-Sae Song, Vidyo’s vice-president of worldwide marketing.
“The great thing is that its extremely scalable. If you run out of capacity all you have to do is create additional virtual machines. What this means is that service providers and enterprises can expand capacity in real time.
Each virtual machine can handle up to 100 High Definition video sessions, he said.
“The result of the way we’ve priced this is video conferencing at audio conferencing price structure,” he said.
Ira Weinstein, an industry analyst with Wainhouse Research, said this is another way in which Vidyo is leveraging its expertise with the Scalable Video Coding (SVC) protocol it brought to the market.
SVC is now part of the H.264 video compression standard, but Vidyo has a proprietary way of processing video streams through the VidyoRouter to eliminate the need for expensive video bridges – also known as multipoint controller units (MCUs). Virtualizing the VidyoRouter is another efficiency.
“This shift away from the traditional bridging method cuts down the processing power, the cost, and increases scalability.”
There is one hitch. The VidyoRouter – hardware or virtual – still needs a Vidyo gateway to talk to non-Vidyo systems.
Over time, as manufacturers see the benefits of leveraging SVC, that will change, Weinstein said. But that will likely take years.
Meanwhile, Song said, Vidyo’s architecture will be able to offer a significant advantage over videoconferencing systems that need MCUs.
One of those advantages is cost. An MCU-based system that can support a seven-person video conference running within North America costs between $50,000 and US$200,000 (all figures US dollars), he said. To run the same system based in a different region -- say, Europe -- an identical system has to be set up. That makes it difficult to set up global videoconferencing, Song argues.
By contrast the cost for a standard VidyoRouter-based system is $13,000, plus $6,000 for each offshore region where a VidyoRouter is located.
While a virtual VidyoRouter system would cost an initial US$17,000 for seven ports (a base price plus US$1,000 a port), if an organization wanted to temporarily host a videoconference in Europe it would only pay for the cost of temporarily moving a virtual machine to be located there. There would be no extra licencing fee charged by Vidyo. Song wouldn’t say exactly when next year virtual VidyoRouter will be released