Magor Communications – Another Approach to Collaboration – and UC
Collaboration has become a big buzzword these days, and the extent to which you associate this with unified communications is purely a personal choice. Both terms are broadly defined, and depending on how you view them, the Venn diagram may overlap a little or an awful lot. In my view, there’s a lot of overlap, and it really depends on how much you think of UC as being an evolution from the PBX, and by proxy, rather voice-centric. Collaboration is more often seen as being video-centric, but of course voice is still a central element. Both views are valid, and I welcome your take offline, but for now, let’s talk about Magor.
So, who is Magor Communications, and what is TeleCollaboration? Magor has been in the market now for a year, and is a branch on the Terry Matthews/Wesley Clover tree. These reference points are well known in Canada, and if that doesn’t register, just think Mitel. We all know Mitel in this space, and being a more established branch of this tree, the companies are cousins, and they work together when needed. While Magor provides the video element for Mitel, they seem to be doing just fine as a standalone operation. Evidence of that can be seen in three announcements that are going public today. I happened to get a jump start on this among other analysts, and with that, UCStrategies is pretty much first to market with this analysis.
The first announcement pertains to updates on their product roadmap, and Magor is building nicely on a strong string of success since launching in March 2010. To validate this, their second announcement is a high-end global win with Christie Digital. They have chosen to go with Magor for their collaboration platform across locations in North America, EMEA and APAC. Finally, their third announcement pertains to new channel partners in Canada, Brazil and China to help extend their reach with both enterprises and SMBs.
News items aside, I want to focus more on TeleCollaboration, and how their value proposition is distinct. Cisco has done a good job trying to brand the telepresence concept for themselves, but the likes of Polycom and Tandberg have been doing its predecessor – videoconferencing – for much longer and with a much larger customer footprint. Of course, Cisco changed the game by taking this to the next level, and that’s where we get to collaboration. Magor is a variation on this theme – but more flexible and affordable – so they wisely came up with another term to compete in this space.
TeleCollaboration: Between Telepresence and Videoconferencing
In essence, TeleCollaboration is a nice hybrid between telepresence and videoconferencing. Whereas Cisco’s term “telepresence” defines what it is (the immersive experience), Magor’s term “TeleCollaboration” defines what it does. In my view, the difference is subtle but important, and speaks to a brand promise that people can quickly understand. Initially, telepresence seemed like magic – something out of Star Trek – so it was no surprise how expensive it was/is. There’s definitely a wow factor here, but Magor gets straight to the point; their solution helps people collaborate, and that’s a key enabler for how businesses get things done today. Telepresence delivers the same capability, but it’s not obvious from the name.
Magor has been successful because they have built their value proposition (and underlying technology) around some core business needs. First – with a hat tip to Cisco – they recognize the value that video and visual communication brings to collaboration. We’ve always collaborated in other ways, but in many cases, video is simply better on many levels.
Second, they have astutely zeroed in on the need for ad hoc collaboration. Agility is another big buzzword now, and as workflows become project-oriented, people must be able to work on multiple teams, and increasingly work on short notice with co-workers in remote or distant locations. TeleCollaboration is designed to work on any device from any browser, which they refer to as HDShare. Dedicated conferencing rooms are not needed, and one of today’s news items adds mobility, with support for both smartphones and tablets.
To enable true ad hoc collaboration, Magor has adopted a peer-to-peer model. So long as end users have SIP-based endpoints, they can drop on and off the session without interruption, even if they initiated the call. This contrasts from the more commonly used MCU media server – multipoint control unit – that provides centralized management for call flows on video conferencing sessions.
Third is support for virtualization. TeleCollaboration works with all major desktop operating systems, but again, with today’s news, Magor also supports Citrix (which is Linux-based) and VMware. Mitel was an early adopter of virtualization, which I have long felt was a way to differentiate themselves from other telecom vendors, who have a deeper hardware legacy to move away from. Not only does this reinforce the any device/any browser brand promise, but it supports IT’s endless pressure to reduce cost, which they can do here by diminishing the need to buy and support PCs.
TeleCollaboration is supported by a host of technologies and engineering for things such as interoperability with other video vendors, firewall and NAT traversal, bandwidth management to maintain quality as needs scale, and software-based codecs to deliver an HD experience. Overall, this translates into a solution that is both device and network agnostic, and it goes without saying that TeleCollaboration is far less costly than the high end, immersive offerings that have gained so much mindshare.
There is a lot to like about what Magor is doing, and with today’s news items, I hope you’ll agree they warrant a closer look. Collaboration comes in many flavors, and I have no doubt Magor will find a niche with theirs. Whether this changes your thinking about UC remains to be seen, and for me that’s really the message here. In my mind, Magor’s customers are already doing a form of UC, and I don’t think it matters whether they call it UC or not. As long as their productivity is increasing and they’re driving down the cost of IT and communications, I wouldn’t worry too much about the name - and I don’t think Magor will either.