Switching and networking vendor Accord Networks and visual collaboration vendor PictureTel have formed a strategic alliance which will see PictureTel distributing Accord's latest technology - a networking and switching system for real-time interactive visual communications.
The system, titled MGC-100, allows video-conferencing to take place between different types of networks.
Accord has also agreed to develop its MGC-100 to include support for PictureTel's next generation of open PC-based video-conferencing systems.
Traditional bridging systems offered by PictureTel have been ISDN only or IP only. The MCG-100 provides the lynchpin in the centre that allows IP, ISDN, ATM, and any other sort of video device, on any kind of network, to come together and communicate at once.
"Accord's product allows us to go into next-generation bridging products," said Trevor Buchanan, PictureTel's Australia/NZ marketing manager. "We can offer a complete bridging solution for various kinds of networks. It is a big step in terms of what we can offer and in terms of what our resellers can offer."Buchanan said the alliance is particularly good for the local market because people are migrating to video and voice over IP, and he sees MCG-100 as the technology which will allow that migration to happen.
"In a nutshell, the product's getting cheaper and the volume's going up." Buchanan sees this presenting huge opportunities for resellers, adding that: "Whole new markets are opening up."Leo Cortjens, Accord Networks' GM, Asia-Pacific, sees customer call centres as a prime growth area.
He said that with the added power of live video or stored video, this area could be made more effective and exciting. The market is ripe because it is becoming increasingly difficult for ISPs to resell vendor services, Cortjens said. "They have to add things beyond just giving you connection," he added.
Buchanan agrees. "We've been talking with two of the major ISPs in Australia who are migrating to an ASP model. They're trying to bundle up video as an application and offer it in conjunction with broadband access to their corporate client base."The two companies are looking to expand this technology into e-commerce, first in the B2B environment, and then to consumers once the end points become widely available. However, the speed of the market uptake depends on the technology and speed of the networks. Cortjens believes that as broadband becomes more readily available through the likes of ADSL or cable modems, the market take-up will speed up tremendously.
"You can talk to six people about when that's going to happen and you'll get six different answers," Buchanan said. "Our take on it is in two years, but it really depends on how long it takes for the infrastructure to roll out."