BURLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS (07/20/2000) - Ezenia Inc. this week lowered the cost of entry for small companies or workgroups looking to add a multipoint conference unit to their network with the release of the Encounter 1000 MCU.
The new unit is entirely software based, a departure from the rest of the Encounter line that are all hardware-based units and use special network cards for connecting multiple videoconferencing endpoints into a single conference.
Priced at US$3,995, the software runs on a "modestly-equipped" Windows NT server and can support a maximum of eight concurrent users, says Art Souza, vice president of marketing and business development at Ezenia. The hardware-based 3000 model supports up to 64 concurrent users.
Like its mature sibling Encounter 3000, the 1000 offers the same Web-based management and scheduling tools. This enables customers to upgrade to a 3000 or run both types of systems using the same tools, Souza says. From an end-user perspective, the two systems are almost identical in that sessions can be set up and managed through the Web without third-party (i.e. IT staff) intervention.
The new MCU contains some of the same key features as the high-end hardware version, including data collaboration based on the T.120 standard. Continuous presence also is supported, which allows all participants to be viewed on a screen at the same time, giving the screen the look of TV's "Brady Bunch" intro or as Souza puts it, "The Hollywood Squares Effect."
Any H.323-based (IP) videoconferencing endpoint can connect to the MCU, be it a high-end room system from Polycom or a desktop with a simple Web cam running Microsoft NetMeeting.
"We want to make it easy to for companies to bring conferencing to their networks," Souza says. "We think the market is ready and we want to do the right thing to spur adoption of videoconferencing."
The Encounter 1000 is available now for NT 4.0 servers. Those that purchase an Encounter 1000, and later want to upgrade to a 3000, can apply the purchase price of their original unit to the cost of a new unit.