Citrix Audio Services Group (formerly VAPPS, Inc.) has repackaged its “stand alone” HiDef Conferencing offerings to provide clearer, more predictable charges while relaunching its website to be more consistent with the Citrix Online brand. ASG is also about to become the preferred supplier of voice services for Citrix Online collaboration services such as GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar.
While Skype has always featured the ability to support multi-party voice calls, now with up to 25 participants provided one has a recent generation PC, it has never been a managed conferencing service, complete with moderator support and web-based call participant portals other than the Skype client itself. Hosting a Skype multi-party call also relies on the host’s PC resources (processor speed, audio hardware, Internet upload speed amongst others). However, two players have emerged to offer hosted and managed conferencing services over the past few years: VAPPS with its HiDef Conferencing service and iotum’s CalliFlower service.
Having developed over the past few years a unique conferencing server that could handle HD Voice where supported at any user’s endpoint, last fall VAPPS was acquired by Citrix, a veteran of remote computer services, and is emerging now as the Audio Services Group of its Citrix Online business unit. The two primary services for ASG are:
- HiDef Conferencing – moderator managed audio conferencing with flat rate packages for up to 150 participants
- HiDef Corporate – an enterprise grade, moderator managed audio conferencing service supporting meetings with up to 1000 participants
HiDef Conferencing can complement any collaboration service that incorporates desktop sharing. However, it is also becoming the preferred voice service that complements Citrix Online’s GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar online meeting services.
HiDef Conferencing is offered via four bundling plans that support 10, 25, 50 and 150 call participants. As in the past, HiDef Conferencing features include:
- Unlimited “local” or “Tolled” access via numbers in 14 countries
- Free unlimited access via Skype
- Toll –free calling minutes (500, 1000, 2000 and 3750 monthly minutes respectively)
- Minutes shown are for all callers, both organizers and participants.
- High Definition Voice where end points support HD Voice; for instance Skype call participants will more clearly hear other Skype call participants due to Skype’s support of high bandwidth (8 KHz) audio
- Call recording
- Hand raising
- A Moderator call management portal, shown above, encompasses caller invitations, call recording activation, participant muting, call locking/unlocking (to allow or not allow additional participants) and caller disconnect.
Summarizing the relaunch:
- HiDef Conferencing’s value-add comes with it caller management services (including moderator panels), HD Voice support and packages that bundle a mélange of fixed cost call access options.
- By year end, HiDef Conferencing will be the sole recommended supplier of voice services for Citrix Online’s GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar meeting services that incorporate desktop sharing and some chat features. Bringing the higher voice quality of HD Voice to these meetings could actually shorten the meetings.
- HiDef Conferencing has brought its website into line with Citrix Online branding.
Bottom Line: Joining Citrix has brought to HiDef Conferencing the infrastructure and market reach it could never have hoped to have achieved so rapidly on its own. As a hosted service with HD Voice support, it sets a standard for enterprise grade voice conference calling. And with free calling for Skype participants, it will be interesting to see if this feature helps drive Skype adoption as one other high profile service within the Skype for Business ecosystem.
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