US-based video-conferencing solutions provider Lifesize today announced the global availability of a cloud-based video conferencing solution, Lifesize Cloud, through its channel partner network.

Founded in 2003, Lifesize was acquired by Swiss computer accessories manufacturer Logitech in 2009. To date, Lifesize has shipped about 125,000 end points.

Targeting at businesses of all sizes, Lifesize Cloud is a cloud-based video conferencing solution that combines the use of "software, hardware, service and user experience." It can be delivered on smartphones, tablets, laptops and conference rooms, and support all operating systems including Apple, Windows Mobile, iOS, Android, and Kindle.

The Lifesize Cloud application, delivered as a software-as-a-service, is hosted with "IBM SoftLayer's data centers, which are all over the place including Hong Kong," said Andreas Wienold, Lifesize's vice president of international. He added that the use of the Lifesize Cloud application requires no deployment, and it can be "fired up within minutes."

Lifesize cloud offers unlimited guest capability to connect with individuals outside of one's organization. By enabling up to 25-way calls in HD video or audio for every user and virtual meeting, the application is also said to be "fully interoperable," and allows admins to do away with managing multiparty bridging ports.

First introduced on 21 May 2014 in North America and the European Union, Lifesize Cloud is now available globally through its network of 1,800 channel partners, covering over 100 countries.

Lifesize: Cloud is under-leveraged

"Today, cloud is under-leveraged in the video-communications industry," Wienold said. He added that video communications are seeing the same disruption and benefits created at "serious businesses" as cloud services did in recent years.

"Understandably, there is a real need for video communications that is simple to use on any device and encourages natural conversation instantly or scheduled," said Craig Malloy, founder and CEO of Lifesize. "The immediate interest for Lifesize Cloud made the decision to extend this solution to our global customer base an easy one."

The target customers segments of Lifesize Cloud, said Wienold, are small and medium businesses, lawyers and consultants, non-profit organizations, enterprise customers, education, and the government.

In Singapore, BreadTalk Group, the parent company of Shanghainese steamed dumpling and noodle restaurant Din Tai Fung, has used Lifesize cloud solutions to train its chefs remotely, said Wienold.

Not telepresence

According to Wienold, the annual subscription plans start at US$25 per user per month, whereas the cost of setting up a telepresence room can easily exceed US$100,000 per room.

"What is 'telepresence?' 'Telepresence' is just a marketing term. It was something that took up and declined very fast," said Wienold. "It is a business that we have never been in, and it was a good decision for us."

In July 2013, Gartner placed Cisco, Microsoft, Siemens Enterprise Communications and Avaya in the 2013 Leaders Quadrant of the Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (UC). According to the research company, UC comprises six broad communications product areas: voice and telephony, conferencing, messaging, presence and IM, clients, and communications-enabled applications.