By Scott Wharton, CEO ~ A little late to the game, Cisco filed a complaint in Europe yesterday to try to stop the Skype-Microsoft merger. I say a little late because the merger already went through a rigorous comment period and was approved by both the US and European governments months ago. The main complaint from Cisco: Microsoft (through Skype and MS Lync) will bridge their video islands together and keep that all closed for themselves and not let others like Cisco in to play. Cisco wants Skype to open up their network (just like the Europeans asked Cisco to open up the TIP standard to approve the Tandberg acquisition).
How could anyone disagree with Cisco’s premise that interoperability is key for video conferencing becoming more widely accepted and used in the marketplace? As more people use video as a daily tool, this will become a larger pain point and more important.
One way to fix this is to have all of the vendors get together and use the same standards (like what Cisco is proposing). Another is to let the respective vendors innovate along their own lines but use a service provider to integrate all of the video islands, regardless of what standards or approaches are using.
This is what our company, Vidtel, is doing and our service has been focused on solving this problem longer than anyone else in the market (since 2008). Today, we can integrate both Cisco and Skype video devices as well as others that support standards like SIP and H.323 as well as Google Talk through XMPP.
Eventually there might be a single standard for video conferencing but with new players choosing different approaches (like Hookflash and Tango) and existing players moving further away from standards (like all the vendors with their pseudo-proprietary H.264 SVC implementations), the only practical way to skin this cat is though a network-based service stitching all of the major approaches together.