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Blue Jeans Network attempts to bridge enterprise, consumer videoconferencing

Blue Jeans Network is launching a cloud-based multi-party videoconferencing service it says will bring enterprise clients and consumer clients to the same digital meeting table.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Blue Jeans Network on Wednesday announced the launch of a cloud-based multi-party video conferencing service it calls "Any(ware)" videoconferencing.

The company says it wants to make the technology accessible to anyone at any time, from any device, and to do so it's attempting to bridge the gap between enterprise solutions from Cisco, Polycom and others and consumer options from Skype and Google.

Using the company's offering, telecommuters using Skype can participate in video meetings with their enterprise equipment-using colleagues.

The company says it's trying to make videoconferencing as big as audioconferencing, but there remain two questions in my eyes:

  1. Does audioconferencing serve a purpose videoconferencing does not? (e.g. the 'How will I eat lunch and sit in on this meeting?' debate)
  2. Interoperability is great, but what about security?

On the Blue Jeans Network, users get a private "meeting room” in the cloud. They can schedule, host and manage meetings through a web interface. Participants join by dialing a number or clicking on a link. The service supports audio-only connections for participants who don't have a webcam-enabled device handy.

The support list currently looks like this:

Enterprise

  • Cisco / Tandberg
  • Lifesize
  • Polycom
  • Sony
  • H.323 Systems
  • Conference Phones (Audio-only)

Desktop

  • Cisco / Tandberg
  • Google Talk
  • Mirial
  • Polycom
  • Skype for PC/Mac
  • Desk Phones (Audio-only)

Mobile

  • Andriod Tablets
  • Skype for iPhone
  • Skype for iPad
  • Mobile Phones (Audio-only)

The service has been in limited trials since the beginning of this year. As the company goes commercial, it says it now counts:

  • 4,000 subscribers
  • 500+ companies represented
  • 6,000 meetings
  • More than 15,000 participants in 1,000 cities in 100 countries
  • Customers that include Facebook, Partners HealthCare, Internet2 and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school.

To bolster its credentials, the startup says it signed a deal with Deutsche Telekom, although it's keeping mum on the details. To date, it's raised $23.5 million from Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Norwest Venture Partners and others.

Nevertheless, the big question is whether enterprise clients and consumer clients need to jump the wall between them on a regular basis. Do you find this phenomenon in your workplace?