Carl Weinschenk spoke with Simon Moss, CEO, Avistar.
Weinschenk: What is driving the market?
Moss: On the macro scale, it's costs, the environment, the carbon foot print, the movement from being hardware-centric to the application. Then you've got the players structured into three levels. When you synthesize the trends, it means substantial change. At the macro level, a lot of people correlate the adoption with more effective [remote or in-room] communications to the price of oil. That is to a certain degree correct but not the sole matrix. Overall, the growth of global organizations and the global marketplace results in increases in travel, the cost of travel, and the impact on margins. The increases are also driven by a desire for a better home work/balance, people who want to work at home Fridays. The idea is increasing competitiveness, margins, intimacy with clients and partners and adding efficiency into the supply change. Traditionally, you do that by putting people on airplanes. Now we are saying that there is a better way to communicate Combine those significant markets, competition, client management, environmental pressure with the technology and you see a real trend.
Weinschenk: What is the key technology transition?
Moss: Technology is moving away from hardware into software. Microsoft is correct Video, IM, e-mail, software, VoIP are all picking up and being combined into one endpoint. It could be the laptop or a desktop anywhere in world.
Weinschenk: What does the sector look like?
Moss: First are the typical room players. What you have there is communication between single rooms. On average, those rooms are used about nine or 10 minutes a day. What we are doing is increasing the use of rooms. Instead of people in one room talking to people in another, it could be 10,000 dispersed employees. The room could be a hub, part of a network of assets. It could include IM, e-mail, shared data, WebEx meetings. People can talk face-to-face anywhere on the planet. The second set of players is the new players, the IBM, Microsoft, Ciscos of the world. Cisco is engaging the market and saying the key is more network bandwidth. Microsoft says that network-aware applications are the key.
Weinschenk: And the end users are ready.
Moss: Customers are beginning to say that they want high-quality video and that they need desktop video. That's why IM and e-mail providers say video has to be a lot better. It is a lot more important because of the macro trends. That's where Avistar is positioned, and it is the genesis of our partnering conversations.
Weinschenk: How will it shake out?
Moss: I think the traditional players stay. The major players have presence. They have places where they need to upgrade their portfolio in two ways. The integration of voice, video and data into a single application and secondly, the effective management of resulting bandwidth and network challenges.
Weinschenk: Is there more excitement at the consumer or enterprise level?
Moss: At the retail level, the margins are very low and so is quality. Then there is the enterprise market, where pixilation and poor quality are completely unacceptable. Avistar's specific focus is on enterprise quality, in a highly secure manner. It has to be the type of quality as if you are talking to the person next door. Retail will be more cluttered. These communication tools are add-ons to improve saleability of products, such as from Facebook or Match.com.
Weinschenk: Who are the major players?
Moss: It will be a significant fistfight between Microsoft, Cisco and IBM. Avistar is much more focused on the applications that do not take a large amount of network resources and do not require an upgrade of the network to work. We have been in the sector since the 1990s. We are the market leader. Our goal is high-quality, enterprise video without wholesale network upgrades.
Weinschenk: What is the difference between how companies approach this issue?
Moss: There is a philosophical argument. There is a network-centric approach on one side and an application-centric approach on the other. In one, the network dynamically changes in relation to the applications on the other side. In the other, the application changes according to the availability of the network.
Weinschenk: That sounds like quite a difference.
Moss: That's the argument that I think is ongoing. We frankly don't care. We spent tens of millions of dollars working in this environment and have product in 45 countries, on thousands of desktops. Two primary competitors are Microsoft and Cisco. They focus on getting things done. It will be an interesting couple of years going forward. We think we know where market are going to go but can't tell you.
Weinschenk: Avistar takes the approach in which a lot doesn't have to be done to the network.
Moss: Our program has algorithms that understand the topography of networks, understand the network and users and make decisions on the quality of service and quality of experience against what the available bandwidth is. That is the design point for Avistar. We have tens of thousands of workers using it on a regular, daily basis. You can look at it this way: People are on all at the same time. There are people down the road, in Asia, London, and from wireless connections at airports and hotels. Today, the challenge is exponentially more complex. You can solve the problem with a bigger pipe or solve it with more intelligence in how to use latency in the pipe. An analogy would be to VMware. They use available power in hardware on the virtual server. It is a very, very clever idea. One idea is to get more intelligence in the way the pipe is used. The other idea is more pipe.