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I hate to date myself, but I entered the workforce before the web was the standard business tool it has become today.

Back then we had libraries at work to get access to the reports and facts and figures we needed. Our phones and computers had wires that tethered us to our desks, and if we wanted to see a coworker, partner or customer, we flew, drove, or walked there.

And we walked to work,… in the snow,… up hill,… both ways… 

It was a dark time.

Kidding aside, I distinctly remember when the web started to take off in business. It was 1994 and this company called Netscape was generating a lot of buzz with its browser. The company would eventually go public in 1995 at $14 a share.  Seemed expensive at the time…

I remember the discussions back then...

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Following last week’s blog post titled “MCUs are dead, Long live the MCU!", I received a lot of great feedback (both direct and from the analyst community) and requests to learn more about how we approached these challenges and innovated to address them.

So let me shed some light on our approach and how we addressed them to build our virtualized cloud-based MCU alternative.

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When we started Blue Jeans a few years ago we had one simple goal - we wanted to make business video calling as easy and affordable as audio calling. Unlike many startups that start with a piece of technology and try to find applications for it, we started with that very simple use case of business video calling. We then embarked on finding the right technologies that could help us solve it. It boiled down to ease of use, interoperability and cost. And at the center of this old world of business video calling was this beast called the MCU. We had to slay the beast to unlock the next level in the game!

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BCNET, a not for profit organization serving British Columbia’s higher education and research institutions, found the right desktop and room system video collaboration solution with Blue Jeans after evaluating 17 vendors. BCNET’s members think Blue Jeans has helped improve their face to face collaboration.

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Anyone should be able to pickup a smartphone or tablet or walk into a room with a video screen and be able to make a video call to anyone anywhere around the globe. We have all the technology to make this happen, and yet this goal seems to be always around the corner. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? I am getting impatient. Will the world of video conferencing/chat protocols ever converge to make widespread video calling a reality?

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Ever since AT&T introduced the Picturephone at the Worlds Fair in 1964, the world in general and the communication industry in particular have been searching for a term that aptly describes the usage of video in a telephone call. Terms like Picture phone, Videophone & Visiophone were used in the early years but never caught on with the public or business until the technology of group based video calling dubbed as video conferencing, a takeoff on it’s ancestral cousin: audio conferencing.

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With the wide adoption of Skype in the consumer market, it is not surprising that more and more company networks are finding Skype to also be a valuable tool for communication, But one hurdle that seems to confound many IT departments is the “is Skype secure?” question. In short the answer is “yes”. It is, in a few ways. Let me try and explain.

First when a user signs into his or her Skype account, all the information is sent over SSL. SSL encrypts all the information before it leaves user's computer and can only be decrypted by Skype servers.  Skype also uses digital certificates to provide further assurance that the user is in the intended conference....

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If we ever expect video to become the default medium for our meetings we have to give the people what they want… a care-free solution.

When you were making a phone call, have you ever worried about what kind of phone the other person had?  Did it ever cross your mind that their phone might not be compatible with yours?  Of course not!

The beauty of today’s public switched telephony network (PSTN) is that it just works.  It’s interoperable.  You pick up a phone, dial a ten digit number, and make the call.  It doesn’t matter if you are on a wired or wireless network, or if you are on an iPhone, a desk phone, or even a payphone (if you can still find one…).

Traditional video conferencing, on the other hand has been plagued by worries, putting tremendous pressure on the meeting organizer and IT staff.  Lack of interoperability is frequently cited as the primary reason why traditional video conferencing has not propagated more widely (…followed , of course, by cost and complexity).

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An amazing thing happened yesterday as we put the final touches on our new website (and the launch of this blog).  The world began to talk openly about the elephant in the video conferencing room - the need for interoperability. 

The media has responded with such headlines as

Cisco exec Marthin De Beer said it best in his blog posted titled: Video to Video Communication is the Future - Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others.  We could not agree more (Watch about us video)!

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To stay ahead – in business or academia or whatever your industry – it takes real collaboration with partners, customers, vendors and colleagues around the globe. Often times the best way to invent, discuss and work together on a global basis is via video-collaboration. It saves costs and is about as good as it gets when it comes to meeting with colleagues “face-to-face” outside of in-person travel.

But… it’s a scary world out there. There are real security concerns as evidenced by this New York Times article where Rapid7 exposed Goldman Sach’s boardroom video conferencing vulnerability.

According to the article and Mr. Tuchen, CEO of Rapid 7, “New [video] systems are outfitted with a feature that automatically accepts inbound calls so users do not have to press an ‘accept’ button every time someone dials into their videoconference. The effect is that anyone can dial in and look around a room, and the only sign of their presence is a tiny light on a console unit, or the silent swing of a video camera. "Any reasonably computer literate 6-year-old can try this at home”.

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