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Cisco adds video to conferencing suite

Cisco has added video to its MeetingPlace conferencing software, allowing users to easily choose between video, Web or telephone conferencing over their IP networks.

Cisco Systems is making it easier for business customers across the globe to meet via video conference.

On Wednesday, the company announced it has added video to its Internet-based conferencing software, MeetingPlace, which previously only supported voice and Web conferencing. Cisco's new MeetingPlace 5.3 will let business customers set up conferences over video, through Web collaboration or by phone.

The software upgrade is part of the company's strategy to shift its enterprise customers to more Internet Protocol-based communication. The software is based on technology Cisco acquired last year from Latitude Communications in a deal valued at $80 million. It works in conjunction with Cisco's CallManager, IP PBX software that enables voice calls over an IP network, and the Cisco IPVC 3500 Series video MCU, a video conferencing server.

Cisco announced in February that it was adding video capability to version 4.0 of its CallManager software. With that capability, corporate customers are able to communicate in real time over an IP network. Customers had already been able to create a video conference using the CallManager 4.0 software and the IPVC server, but the function was not an integrated feature.

Now, through the new version of MeetingPlace, users can set up conferences in a single step. Meeting participants can set up a voice, video or Web conference from a Web interface, instant-messaging client, phone or Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes calendars. They can receive e-mail reminders or calendar invitations. MeetingPlace lets users control the voice, video, and Web conference from a single browser interface, a feature lacking in many traditional conferencing tools.

Cisco's MeetingPlace systems start at $69,995 for 30 conferencing ports. They support both IP and traditional time-division multiplexing (TDM) interfaces. The video integration option on MeetingPlace costs $17,995 per system and is available now.