MarketScope for Group Video Systems
The introduction of personal and mobile endpoints is dramatically reshaping the landscape for group video collaboration. IT leaders should align their video portfolios for maximum utilization and strategic fit with their related investments in collaboration and unified communications.
The market for group video systems continues to evolve rapidly as user preferences shift and video becomes a more integral part of conferencing and collaboration. Inside the conference room, the emphasis continues to be on high-quality, repeatable and secure video.1 To extend this experience to a broader range of smaller meeting rooms, vendors have focused on more affordable and modular endpoint appliances that can be deployed in minutes without room remediation. This approach has extended down to portable group endpoints for huddle rooms and other shared meeting spaces. Personal video endpoints that permit remote participants to join group meetings can enhance utilization of these group video systems. These personal endpoints can include executive desktop appliances with high-quality cameras and audio, as well as mobile and desktop clients that are optimized to interoperate with existing room systems.
While the majority of group video meetings still include at least one room system, the growing shift to soft endpoints and personal systems is having a major influence on market evolution. Scheduled conference rooms had provided a convenient governor on concurrent demand, a constraint that is removed as group video shifts to personal and more ad hoc approaches. As a result, vendors of supporting video infrastructure such as multipoint control units (MCUs) have been challenged with demonstrating greater scale and affordability. This has been underscored by virtualized instances of video infrastructure and a greater emphasis on video switching to limit the role of video processing. Cloud-based service providers that offer interoperability and conference capacity without any capital commitment are affecting the number of new video infrastructure deployments. This growing interest in video as a service (VaaS) has caused the major vendors to develop, host and, in some cases, white-label their own cloud offers.2
The decreasing role of large group video systems and the diminishing vendor control exerted through supporting video infrastructure have reshaped the market. With video now an integral part of unified communications (UC) platforms like Microsoft Lync Server 2013, new market entrants have been content to focus on developing endpoint solutions specifically for that platform. These Lync Room Systems range from sophisticated group webcams all the way up to multiscreen boardroom configurations. Room video has been introduced as a viable option for Google+ Hangouts with the release of Google Chromebook for Meetings. As group video and UC continue to merge, there will be continuing commoditization of group video appliances, an accelerated transition to supporting personal and ad hoc video, and more strategic import for decisions about enterprise video investments.
Specifically in this MarketScope, the core attributes of group video systems include:
- Multicodec immersive endpoint products accommodating three to four screens of HD video and content sharing, with a minimum resolution of 720 progressive (p) at 30 frames per second (fps).
- Single-screen and dual-screen group video endpoints that interoperate natively with each other and with other multicodec systems.
- Personal video endpoints for mobile and desktop environments that can be used to create and participate in videoconferences that may include room systems.
- Simplified UIs that facilitate call production, content sharing and the management of video layouts during calls among multiple locations.
Related, but not necessary, elements include endpoint management, scheduling integration with calendaring and scheduling tools, and the ability to interwork with UC investments.
The business case for group video is often based on cost avoidance for travel and hospitality. More-affordable endpoints and a growing range of cloud services permit enterprises to "test drive" a range of use cases before deciding on the right solution set. Group video investment remains highest when expectations are for executive meetings with long hold times (several hours) where expectations are for near-broadcast quality with limited video or audio artifacts. These experiences emphasize dedicated devices in designed rooms and are typically run over high-quality private networks and a dedicated infrastructure. At the other end of the spectrum, many enterprises have sanctioned or unsanctioned use of video chat available as a best-effort option. Enterprises continue to extend the curated group video experiences to a broader set of constituents, gauging return on incremental investment. The same enterprises also are satisfying a growing range of less critical use cases with best-effort video and building a baseline for where "good enough" video is sufficient.
The primary uses of group video technology include:
- Senior leadership meetings, strategy sessions and other meetings with long hold times.
- Meetings primarily with global and virtual teams that otherwise have limited opportunities for personal interaction.
- Virtual presence scenarios, where always-on video is used to stimulate more natural interaction among distributed workgroups.
- Use cases that include external participants, such as people engaged in job interviews, remote experts and remote training.
Multiscreen Immersive Telepresence Suites: At the high end of the group video market are multiscreen immersive telepresence suites, often costing more than $100,000 per system. These are tailored environments in which the lighting, acoustics, decor and furniture on both sides of the video are tightly controlled (and often identical), giving conference participants from different locations the appearance of being in the same room, thus the "immersive" description. Customer interest in this segment has declined as enterprises seek more affordable and more modular solutions.
Group Video Endpoints: These systems are leading the move to modularity, often by allowing flexible deployment of codecs, displays and peripherals in a manner that can accommodate a variety of room configurations. Free standing form factors are emerging, along with solutions aimed at the unique requirements for very small rooms and huddle spaces. A subset of these systems can also be configured with an embedded MCU.
Personal Video Endpoints: Accommodating individual participants via video in group videoconferences is an essential component of a video portfolio. These solutions can range from desktop appliances for executives to mobile and desktop solutions that offer more engaging participation than a simple audio add-on. Expectations are growing for more seamless integration of mobile devices for video and content sharing, although the largest enterprise group video deployments still have a mix of room appliances and soft clients.
Gartner's ratings are based primarily on interactions with vendors, clients and customers that have engaged vendors in the sales cycle and can provide insight into a range of group video sales practices, features, capabilities and end-user satisfaction.
We considered several important factors when rating the group video vendors listed in this MarketScope:
- Product quality, especially in immersive multiscreen and group video endpoints
- Overall long-term viability as a company (business unit, organization, financial, strategy)
- Flexibility to offer customers a choice of in-house management or a managed service offering
- Flexibility in network transport alternatives
- Ability to facilitate reach and interoperability, including different signaling, endpoint types, video codecs and network transport
- The range, quality and innovation of collaboration tools available with the product
To be considered for this MarketScope, vendors must:
- Have commercial offers for single-screen and multiscreen group video systems
- Provide suitable customer references
- Provide market visibility as evidenced by having shipped more than 1,000 group video endpoints to date (combination of single-screen and multiscreen configurations)
- Have demonstrated their ability to integrate and communicate with standards-based room videoconferencing systems
- Have primary use cases and customer references that support group videoconferencing
While having a choice of managed service and support offerings is important, managed services are not considered part of the inclusion criteria or for the ratings.
Although we consider the enabling of video infrastructure to support interworking, transcoding and multipoint calling in the ratings, it is not part of the inclusion criteria. The ability to extend the reach of group video systems calls to desktop, mobile and UC soft clients is considered in the ratings, but is not part of the inclusion criteria.
One vendor, Teliris, was dropped from the MarketScope due to change of ownership. Dimension Data acquired Teliris, a pioneer in immersive group video systems, for its ability to deliver managed video services that complement Dimension Data's emerging VaaS portfolio.
Overall Market Rating: Positive
Group video remains a market with potential for organic growth, with the endpoint mix shifting from purpose-built multiscreen systems to more flexible and broadly deployed form factors (see Table 1 and Figure 1).
Source: Gartner (June 2014)
Source: Gartner (June 2014)
Avaya continues to find product adjacencies for its video portfolio, which was significantly augmented with the acquisition of Radvision in 2012. For small and midsize environments, Avaya bundles endpoint and conferencing resources with Avaya IP Office 8.X, allowing up to nine video participants in a single meeting. These participants can be desktop and mobile via Scopia Desktop, or other room systems connected via an embedded MCU. For larger enterprise video deployments, Scopia is a strategic component, reaching more than 100,000 users in Avaya's largest current deployments. Enterprises that prefer to include executive desktop video units can select the Avaya Scopia XT Executive 240, a 24-inch, 1080p capable system with the option of an integral MCU. Although the high end of the room system market has not been a mainstay for Avaya, the vendor continues to offer a range of room-based form factors that extend from the Scopia XT1200 through the Scopia XT5000, and have referenceable customers with hundreds of deployed rooms.
With the inclusion of Scopia, the entire Avaya endpoint portfolio supports H.264 High Profile to improve bandwidth utilization. Network utilization can be further optimized via NetSense, a congestion management technology for real-time traffic. Avaya continues to position itself for a greater density of switched video with plans for H.265 multistream support, while retaining the ability to perform high-quality transcoding at scale on its Scopia Elite 6000 Series MCU.
Avaya currently equips several service providers with enabling video infrastructure, but has been slower than its large competitors rolling out VaaS. It is increasingly evident that VaaS offers, both direct and through channel partners, are critical to pull through endpoints of all types. Although the Scopia Desktop has demonstrated success at scale in enterprise deployments, it is exposed to growing threats from VaaS providers, as well as the growing mobile support and interoperability in Microsoft Lync.
Consider Avaya's Scopia portfolio where other Avaya UC and Internet Protocol (IP) products are in use, or as an alternative to Cisco and Polycom endpoints and infrastructure.
Cisco remains the share leader for enterprise video, with comprehensive offers across endpoints and infrastructure. An early leader in multicodec telepresence systems, Cisco has continued to reshape its portfolio to reflect changing expectations for cost, reach and ease-of-use. To address the growing interest in video for shared spaces, Cisco introduced the Cisco TelePresence SX10 Quick Set (SX10), a fully self-contained endpoint that can be added to any off-the-shelf HDMI display. More than just a smaller system, the SX10 has a setup wizard to simplify first-time setup.
For the desktop, Cisco introduced the DX70 and DX80, integrated collaboration endpoints that enable high-quality personal video at aggressive price points. For larger rooms, Cisco introduced additional hard endpoints. The Cisco TelePresence MX700 offers two 55-inch displays, while the TelePresence MX800 has a single 70-inch display. These larger endpoints reflect a continued shift to free-standing form factors that eliminate room remediation. These new MX Series endpoints and the SX80 Codec are the first commercially available systems to support H.265, an approach to video coding that delivers approximately two times the gain in bandwidth efficiency. Hard endpoints also feature Intelligent Proximity, an ultrasonic pairing approach to allow local control and content sharing with local mobile devices. To drive reach and third-party connectivity, Cisco offers Cisco TelePresence Video Communication Server Expressway (Cisco VCS Expressway), a border element that can interwork video signaling. Ad hoc video can be facilitated through WebEx, as well as through the recently added Cisco Jabber Guest that permits interactive video to be embedded in the browser. Enabling infrastructure for the endpoints is available in appliance, chassis and virtualized options.
Unlike many of the vendors in this MarketScope, Cisco has reference accounts with thousands of endpoints deployed across each category, including room systems, executive desktops and soft endpoints, all in the same enterprise. Gartner client inquiry continues to demonstrate strong preference for Cisco as a leading group video vendor, even in accounts with established UC competitors. The threat to Cisco in enterprise video is less from direct substitution than from greater adoption of best-effort video and commodity endpoints. As personal video use escalates, more enterprises are exploring cloud-based video meetings to better characterize their demand set and avoid overinvesting in infrastructure. Cisco will need to deliver on its plans for the Cisco WebEx Meeting Center option for collaboration meeting rooms that will support third-party standards-based endpoints.
Enterprises of all sizes should consider Cisco for its complete range of group systems, executive and personal endpoints, and enabling video infrastructure.
Rating: Strong Positive
Huawei is the third-largest vendor of group video systems globally and has been gaining significant market traction in EMEA, adding to its already strong market presence in the Asia/Pacific region. In the single-screen category, Huawei shipped more than 31,000 HD units in 2013, demonstrating revenue and unit growth in a declining market for most vendors. Huawei has joined the trend of small, self-contained systems for shared meeting rooms by introducing the TE30. The TE30 is Wi-Fi capable and features voice dialing and support for H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC) for added bandwidth efficiency. Mobile participants are supported by the TE Desktop and TE Mobile clients, both of which can run H.264 High Profile to minimize bandwidth. In a move that is counter to current market trends, Huawei has added a 10-screen telepresence system, the largest system yet available. Filling a more important portfolio gap, it introduced the RSE6500, a recording and streaming server for enterprises interested in repurposing or broadcasting meeting content. Huawei endpoint pricing is competitive in each class of products in which it chooses to compete.
While Huawei has developed considerable market traction in its home region (Asia/Pacific) and EMEA, its video portfolio lacks meaningful visibility in the North American market, a key buying center for enterprise conferencing. It also trails its competitors in the transition of supporting video infrastructure to software, an important tenet of scaling its endpoint penetration, as well as pulling through new opportunities enabled by VaaS. This is especially true as Huawei customers try to satisfy the conferencing demand from Huawei's new entry-level endpoints and mobile clients.
Consider Huawei where a combination of group systems and telepresence is required, or where Huawei enterprise or service provider infrastructures can be leveraged (the latter as part of a managed service offering).
Lifesize, a division of Logitech, has made a set of targeted product investments in endpoints and services that reflect changing customer expectations across the industry. The Icon Series of endpoints introduces an innovative UI that is highly intuitive for new users. The Lifesize Icon 600 is a system that can be dropped into most rooms without installation, while the Lifesize Icon 800 has a rack-mountable codec better suited for integrators. To simplify provisioning, software updates and directory synchronization, Lifesize introduced Lifesize Cloud to complement its evolving endpoint portfolio. In addition to auto-registration and setup for endpoints, the Lifesize Cloud allows multipoint call escalation and management, without the need for local infrastructure. Lifesize Cloud carries forward the vision from Lifesize Connections, an earlier VaaS offer that is being phased out. Enterprises with a high density of internal endpoints can still purchase traditional video infrastructure from Lifesize, including gatekeeping, bridging and network address translation (NAT) traversal. Comparable functionality can be instantiated in software instances via Lifesize UVC core bundles.
As the group video market continues to move to a broader mix of personal and room endpoints, Lifesize is well-positioned to accommodate the transition. Its parent company, Logitech, has been leading the charge for commodity room endpoints with the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e, an innovative pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) portable room endpoint that sells for less than $1,000 and can be bundled with Lifesize Cloud. The combination of affordable and easy-to-use endpoints with cloud capabilities, along with an established portfolio of mobile video solution, positions Lifesize to disrupt the midsize enterprise market. While Lifesize has an established presence in public sector and high-tech verticals, it lacks a significant presence in larger enterprise deployments of group video. The diameter of new large enterprise deployments remains small. Lifesize customers, including its references, are not demonstrating a strong preference for incremental systems.
Consider Lifesize for affordable group video endpoints, and evaluate Lifesize Cloud as an alternative to a dedicated video infrastructure.
Polycom remains the second-largest provider of group video endpoints and infrastructure globally. The endpoint range includes RealPresence immersive platforms, as well as the RealPresence Group Series, a set of modular room endpoints with a UI that supports video and content sharing at 1080p60, and supports Polycom SmartPairing with mobile devices to provide additional control for users. A suite of enabling virtualized infrastructures that runs on standard servers, the RealPresence Platform includes the RealPresence Collaboration Server, an MCU platform that can mix Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and SVC. In addition to these offers, there is CloudAxis Suite. Working in conjunction with Polycom's RealPresence Platform infrastructure, CloudAxis enables users to view presence information and establish ad hoc video calls with others on applications such as Facebook and Google Talk, as well as traditional standards-based video endpoints.
Polycom has moved into the VaaS market with its RealPresence Cloud, representing a fully virtualized, cloud-based video collaboration offering with subscription pricing. RealPresence Cloud enables multipoint calls between standards-based endpoints, and is currently sold through Polycom's channel partners. Enterprises can also elect a total solution under a subscription licensing model, RealPresence One. As the enterprise market continues to adopt VaaS as a stand-alone and/or adjunct solution to dedicated room video systems, Polycom will need to continue extending and enabling its ecosystem of channel partners with white-label agreements, as well as consider expanding a direct offer.
The company's CEO, Peter Leav, enters the company at a critical time. Polycom must cope with the overall market decline in video group endpoint and infrastructure, and seek to exploit one of its key differentiators: Lync Room Systems. These are purpose-built video room solutions for Microsoft Lync, designed to provide the familiar Lync collaboration experience in conference room environments. These room systems, as well as Polycom's UC desktop devices/phones that work natively with MS Lync, help the company maintain the best integration and interoperability with Microsoft Lync. Competition in the Lync Room segment is heating up, however, and Polycom will need to continue driving feature set and pricing improvements to achieve sustained competitiveness.
Consider Polycom video endpoints to extend existing room deployments, complement initiatives to video-enable Microsoft Lync 2013, and to create a full system solution for new builds and for VaaS.
Rating: Strong Positive
Smart Technologies (Smart) is a new entrant in this MarketScope, and represents an approach to group video that is primarily focused on room endpoints. While other vendors emphasize an ecosystem approach, Smart has chosen to add value specifically to Microsoft Lync environments. By leveraging the Lync Room System specification, Smart is able to limit resources spent developing codec technologies and video infrastructure and, instead, can innovate form factor and features. Smart entered the Lync Room System market in March 2013 and has extended its portfolio of room endpoints that now range from 55-inch single-screen systems to a dual 70-inch screen system, with a dual 84-inch system introduced in 2014. The Lync Room System design allows Smart to work seamlessly with other Lync endpoints, and allows video scheduling and call creation to be an intuitive process for Lync users. Coming from a heritage of shared whiteboarding and document collaboration, Smart allows meeting participants to ink over any content as part of the meeting experience and save modifications in the native file format. Smart likely will launch advanced reporting on utilization levels of deployed systems in 2014, part of a growing trend in the market for group video systems.
As a Lync Room System, the Smart portfolio is best suited to native Lync environments that want to extend personal video into the meeting rooms along with a high degree of document sharing and content interaction. While trusted parties with Lync video can be reached through open federation, heterogeneous video environments will require a third-party MCU or service provider to connect with non-Lync endpoints. Since it is easy to combine mobile and desktop participants with room meetings, enterprises need to leverage reporting tools to gauge concurrent demand and add network capacity as needs grow. While Smart has a comprehensive set of form factors for traditional meeting rooms, it has yet to introduce an entry-level appliance for huddle spaces.
Enterprises that are standardized on Microsoft Lync should consider Smart Technologies for group video, especially when ease-of-use and document sharing are key decision drivers.
At the higher end of the "positive" category, Vidyo has leveraged a software-centric view of enterprise video to grow its business and is substantially less dependent on dedicated hardware or transcoding infrastructure than the other vendors in this MarketScope. As the market transitions to soft endpoints and more commodity hardware, Vidyo is in a leading position to support high-scale and hybrid video deployments. With solutions for every major browser and OS, Vidyo combines an innovative implementation of scalable video coding with its VidyoRouter. The VidyoRouter, which is available in virtualized instances, intelligently sends each multistream endpoint an ideal frame rate and resolution based on individual endpoint capabilities and connectivity for each of the other participants. By focusing on software, Vidyo can more quickly adapt to new functional changes than its hardware-centric counterparts. A recent example is the VidyoRoom HD-40, a modular endpoint based on the Intel NUC that can be paired with a commodity camera like the Logitech CC3000 and a display to deliver a complete group video solution for less than $5,000.
Vidyo has solutions for larger meeting rooms as well. The VidyoRoom HD-230 is capable of receiving up to 1080p60fps on two screens. Very large venues can opt for the VidyoPanorama, which can handle up to six large displays consisting of any combination of video and content. To enhance content sharing, Vidyo introduced VidyoSlate, an app available on Android and iOS that allows any participant to mark up content on a mobile device. Vidyo is capable of transcoding to other standards-based video formats through its cloud gateway, which supports gateway calls for Google Hangouts.
Vidyo excels in public sector and community-of-interest networks that can involve more than 10,000 endpoints, where it has demonstrated adoption, as well as growing utilization. Its ability to deliver on highly affordable room video has helped Vidyo deploy more than 1,000 systems at a single client site within the past year. Large enterprises remain the only segment where Vidyo is challenged to find significant traction, evidenced by Gartner client inquiries, largely because of the asset inertia of endpoints and infrastructure from other vendors. While cloud services and the transition to software MCUs continue to commoditize video interoperability, Vidyo retains the advantage of an architecture that limits the need for interoperabilty.
Enterprises of all sizes should consider Vidyo when seeking distributed group and personal video communication that maximizes reach across a broad range of devices.
1 Based on feedback from Gartner inquiry with enterprise customers, room video considerations have demonstrated a greater emphasis on security, with no diminished emphasis on quality and repeatability. Vendors such as Cisco and Polycom have responded with management tools specific to video that gauge quality and utilization of video resources as a result.
2 Specifically, leaders Cisco and Polycom support chassis-based approaches, but offer a transition to virtualized instances. The vendors leading the transition to switched video architectures include Microsoft and Vidyo.
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.
Gartner's MarketScope provides specific guidance for users who are deploying, or have deployed, products or services. A Gartner MarketScope rating does not imply that the vendor meets all, few or none of the evaluation criteria. The Gartner MarketScope evaluation is based on a weighted evaluation of a vendor's products in comparison with the evaluation criteria. Consider Gartner's criteria as they apply to your specific requirements. Contact Gartner to discuss how this evaluation may affect your specific needs.
In the below table, the various ratings are defined:
MarketScope Rating Framework
Is viewed as a provider of strategic products, services or solutions:
- Customers: Continue with planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a strong choice for strategic investments.
Demonstrates strength in specific areas, but execution in one or more areas may still be developing or inconsistent with other areas of performance:
- Customers: Continue planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a viable choice for strategic or tactical investments, while planning for known limitations.
Shows potential in specific areas; however, execution is inconsistent:
- Customers: Consider the short- and long-term impact of possible changes in status.
- Potential customers: Plan for and be aware of issues and opportunities related to the evolution and maturity of this vendor.
Faces challenges in one or more areas.
- Customers: Understand challenges in relevant areas, and develop contingency plans based on risk tolerance and possible business impact.
- Potential customers: Account for the vendor's challenges as part of due diligence.
Has difficulty responding to problems in multiple areas.
- Customers: Execute risk mitigation plans and contingency options.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor only for tactical investment with short-term, rapid payback.