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Managed video conferencing services finally in demand

MSPs can use IT management platforms to provide managed video conferencing services and save customers money, time and headaches.

Video conferencing is nothing , but there has been an uptick in the use of video conferencing software that MSPs hope to cash in on.

Results from the Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing QView from International Data Corporation (IDC) show that video conferencing revenue grew about 20% in 2011 from 2010 after 16% growth from 2009 to 2010.

Demand for managed video conferencing services

Organizations across a range of vertical market segments -- including healthcare, higher education, financial services, legal, law enforcement, manufacturing and retail -- rely on video conferencing, said Rich Costello, senior analyst at IDC, in a statement. He noted that unified communications and collaboration (UCC) is further expected to spur the use of video in the enterprise.

This is good news for managed service providers (MSPs), because with new technology comes new challenges for IT that they can solve.

In TechTarget Inc.'s own Unified Communications 2011 Annual Survey, 48.2% of respondents reported that their organization lacks the in-house expertise to implement UCC, and 44.7% said their company is interested in buying UCC technology, implementation or services from an MSP or VAR.

"Channel partners are critical today to successful video deployments," Costello said. "Good channel partners can also help their customer identify key business use cases for video deployments."

Boosting ROI with managed video conferencing services

Calculating return on investment was a key obstacle listed by about 25% the IT professionals who responded to the TechTarget survey.

The combination of cheaper and better technology, combined with the economic conditions and cost associated with sending staff to in-person meetings, has upped the demand for video conferencing services, said Kevin Detsch, vice president of business development with ePlus, a Herndon, Va.-based MSP. The other key driver of video conferencing technology adoption is employees who use video communication in their personal lives and want to integrate it at work.

IT organizations are determining if they want to manage the infrastructure and manage the uptime of video services. The TechTarget survey found that while the benefits were known, IT staff and companies were hesitant to invest in enterprise video conferencing technology.

"There's still a lot of angst around meeting bandwidth demand requirements for video usage and how to handle the increasing number of video users that they are seeing," Costello said.

Cutting the complexity of managed video conferencing services

Another common pain point for customers is the integration of different technologies.

"[Organizations] used to take disparate video voice and data and put it together for videoconferencing," Detsch said. "Most midmarket customers that we deal with, before they know it, have this literal dog's breakfast of disparate tools to manage their infrastructure. As we layer video into the mix, it's becoming very challenging for midmarket SMB organizations."

Now ePlus has a tool to help manage this situation. It partners with ScienceLogic, which just announced the addition of video management capabilities to their IT operations and dynamic cloud management platform.

In fact, Detsch confessed that prior to the use of the ScienceLogic platform, ePlus wasn't in much better shape than those customers he's talking about.

"ePlus was really using a much longer list of disparate management tools than we likely should have been," he said. "In the midmarket, we are competing against other service providers. I can't imagine coming in and saying we use 29 disparate tools to manage your critical network. I can't imagine anyone would take that seriously."

The adoption of a management platform that consolidates management tasks is a big investment, and it is part of the natural evolution of an MSP business, Detsch said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Leah Rosin, Site Editor, or follow us on Twitter.

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