The LifeSize demonstration was impressive. LifeSize had conferences set up with its office in Austin, and even at a low bitrate, the quality was impressive. With an initial cost of only $12K, LifeSize intends to push HD videoconferencing well beyond the boardroom. LifeSize intends to target the education, entertainment and medium-sized business markets. They also mentioned some interesting customer deployments that illustrate how broad the appeal of videoconferencing could eventually be.
“One of our customers is a casting agency,” Malloy said. “Previously, if an agency in New York wanted to see an actor from L.A., they had to fly them across the country. It’s not hard to understand the appeal of videoconferencing in a case like that.”
Other customers include the Kilpatrick Stockton law firm, which uses LifeSize for depositions and briefings, and Salud Family Health Centers, which is using the system for training and patient consultations.
“One thing that’s been missing in all of the talk about collaboration is the fact that humans are wired to communicate face to face,” Malloy said. Sometimes that enterprise collaboration platform is just too isolating, and being able to quickly set up a high-quality videoconference is a good approximation of the normal office behavior of getting up from the PC and walking down the hall to your colleague’s office for a quick face-to-face.
Another thing forgotten in the Web 2.0 hype is how cumbersome so many IT management consoles are. It’s easier and easier for end users to customize news feeds, blog spaces, and media settings, but what about the administrator supporting all of this stuff?
IT Management, Meet Mashups
FireScope is pushing the concept of mashups for IT management. According to Mark Lynd, the company’s president, the typical enterprise can’t keep up with its numerous point solutions.
“Over half lose their effectiveness and become shelfware within the first 90 days,” he said, noting that the most common cause for this is simply that IT is stretched too thin.
FireScope’s Business Service Management (BSM) portal brings the mashup concept to IT management. The solution aggregates the events and interfaces of all of an organization’s network applications into a Web-based portal. From the portal, IT administrators can monitor, analyze and report on their entire collection of IT solutions. The portal can be customized as end users see fit, and it is updated in real time via AJAX.
Of course, there are also all of the requisite collaboration and reporting tools, but the real value is bringing the ease of use that is a hallmark of Web 2.0 to IT pros. Just because IT experts can figure out complex systems on their own doesn’t mean they should have to. Who has the time for it, especially if you are supporting a large, heterogeneous environment?