Startup opens videoconference bridging service

Startup Blue Jeans Network launches its videoconferencing bridge service today, letting customers blend conferences over legacy systems as well as with video services such as Skype.

The company's Any(ware) videoconference service enables standard videoconferencing systems that are made by different vendors to participate in meetings along with parties connecting from devices as varied as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones, the company says.

NEW TECH: 3D conferencing hits the enterprise

For example Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar has Tandberg (now Cisco) videoconferencing gear at each of its 64 restaurants that it uses for internal meetings as well as business meetings among guests in restaurant dining rooms. Customers wanted to include participants over Skype, but the restaurant had no way to accommodate it.

Fleming's IT manager Craig Sheppard says he heard about Blue Jeans and joined its beta program, and has successfully held conferences that bridge the Tandberg gear with Skype participants from as far away as Italy. He says the restaurant chain hopes to add conference wine tastings that include a wine maker calling in from a vineyard via Skype over an iPhone.

Right now the service supports H.323 videoconferencing systems and has plans to support SIP-based systems within a few months. It also supports Skype and Google Talk, and has plans to support Microsoft desktop videoconferencing products.

The service includes a server in the cloud that translates protocols and bridges connections over the Internet, establishing the highest resolution images each connected device supports. Parties can be displayed in three ways: active speaker occupying the whole screen; active speaker displayed larger and others smaller; all parties up to nine displayed all the time at the same size. The service also supports screen sharing of documents.

Blue Jeans has point of presence in San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Amsterdam, and plans to build more including one to service Asia.

Pricing is between 10 cents and 15 cents per minute per endpoint in a conference, and customers can buy a package of minutes per month, similar to cellphone plans, the company says. The service requires no additional infrastructure for customers beyond the endpoints, and meetings can be encrypted to secure them.

Customers can register for a 30-day free trial at

Blue Jeans Network was co-founded by Krish Ramakrishnan and Alagu Periyannan. Ramakrishnan is a former entrepreneur in residence at Accel Partners and general manager of the server virtualization business at Cisco. Periyannan was CTO at WAN optimization vendor Blue Coat Systems.

The company has raised $23MM from Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Norwest Venture Partners.

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Tags unified communicationsskypeNetworking

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