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Radvision Builds on MS 'Istanbul'

Radvision demonstrated a new software-based multipoint control unit (MCU) ready to work with Microsoft's Istanbul, announced on Tuesday.

Radvision makes software for enterprise video, voice and data conferencing, as well as VoIP developer tools. Its offerings include a hardware-based MCU, called viaIP, that interfaces with the corporate communications networks by means of middleware product iVIEW. The software-only communications architecture, to be included in iVIEW is designed for enterprises using Microsoft Office System 2003.

Radvision's distributed, server-based product will let corporate users of Microsoft Live Communications Server integrate that with other forms of communication, including PBX, mobile phones, 3G video phones and traditional videoconferencing systems.

The conferencing product builds on the functionality of the newest component of the Microsoft Office System, Istanbul. Microsoft promised that this rich desktop client will replace Windows Messenger, providing integrated instant messaging, extensible presence, PC-based voice and video, and integration with the telephone.

Killko Caballero, Radvision senior vice president of enterprise strategy, said the company believes that an end-to-end software product, rather than a hardware-based MCU, is the right approach in terms of scalability and pricing.

Caballero said that as video becomes more commonplace in business, demand could swamp bandwidth and snarl networks.

"When Microsoft launched Live Communications Server," he said, "they put video and voice capabilities into the Windows Messenger client. So large enterprises are being exposed to this capability, but it's only point-to-point."

But the point-to-point structure can't handle complex, high-bandwidth connections at multiple locations, he said. "When you have potentially tens of thousands of video users, it can't be handled within a separate architecture," he said.

IVIEW will hide the complexity of connecting users via a variety of devices and enabling different communications protocols on the fly. It creates a layer of abstraction on top of the complex network infrastructure, letting users simply drag icons to initiate collaboration.

Radvision demonstrated iVIEW with the beta version of Istanbul at the VON tradeshow, held in Boston this week, and it's already in use by beta customers. The company will release the final version in conjunction with Microsoft's release of the new desktop client, expected some time in the first half of 2005.