Video Everywhere, But Not a Drop of Interoperability to Drink    

Published 11/21/2012


David Danto


Principal Consultant - AV / Multimedia / Video / UC,

Dimension Data


Director of Emerging Technology, IMCCA



My kids got up at 6 am this past Sunday to wait in line at their local big-box store.  The latest video gaming console (Nintendo’s Wii-U) was being released and they wanted to be the first in line to get one.  It promises great new games, an innovative tablet interface, and – oh yeah – video chat.


The soon to be released Blackberry 10 was “leaked” recently – as people got to see pictures of it in use.  Little is known about the rest of its details, other than that it will have Face Flow Video Chat installed.


I received an email earlier today from an industry colleague.  (Actually, I receive an email like this one just about every day from industry colleagues.)  “ Have you heard about the new XXXXXXXX that offers video conferencing in the XXXXXXX unique way?”  Regrettably, my answer is sometimes no.


I and many others in the industry have written about the coming ubiquity of video, and how pervasive video conferencing will change the way we work and live, but frankly, this is not what I had in mind.  We’re drowning in an uncontrolled proliferation of video devices, applications and features these days.  I consider myself a very savvy industry professional and I’m very confused.  We need a roster, a scorecard, an announcer and some baseball-esque ground rules about how many new players we let into the game and when.  The question we used to ask clients and colleagues was “do you have video.”  Now more than ever, a “yes” answer is no guarantee of an ability to make a connection. 


Every firm in the space has agreed that interoperability is the key to growing the market.  Then, after agreeing, many of them go off and do their own thing anyway.  They leave to their marketing team the job of spinning how their latest proprietary thing is really supporting interoperability.  For example, Polycom recently announced a number of exciting new solutions which included their new CloudAXIS Server.  Their CEO Andy Miller stated that “Polycom RealPresence CloudAXIS solutions … give businesses and service providers the extended interoperability on which to build scalable cloud-based video collaboration services.”  All very exciting, but does it really represent true video interoperability?  The Polycom solution signals out to users of other services and sends them a link to use the Polycom web based solution to communicate.  This raises an interesting question - is it admirably innovative to try and solve the interoperability problem by avoiding it, or is it just spin marketing?  If I knew the answer to that question I would say it, but I really am on the fence.  How will organizations be able to have guaranteed visual collaboration with the gaming consoles, smart phones, tablets and PC applications of the future if they keep popping-up and don’t follow any rules?  There are definitely firms that provide true video interoperability in the cloud – such as BlueJeans and their competitors - and these are compelling solutions.  However, can these firms keep-up with the exploding landscape of one-off solutions?  Even if they tried to, not every firm is willing to permit services to be interoperable with their proprietary code.  


This whole situation reminds me of when I worked at AT&T – in the long-past days when it was the managing force of The Bell System.  All of the standards and schemas we use for public telephony today are based upon what the Bell System developed…when it was a monopoly…and could do whatever it wanted.  If the global telephone system were developed under today’s competitive landscape, calling our cousin on the other side of the country would be as difficult as these video interoperability issues. 


So the advice I give to my clients is that they can definitely keep on top of every new product announcement and release with interest (as I try to), but it’s best to keep a healthy dose of skepticism about anything new until it has a chance to mature.  That is unless you really enjoy trying to figure out how to connect your Umi to your InPerson (or any other curses of any other albatrosses) - then by all means be my guest.





This blog was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. It originally was published at UBM’s “The Video Enterprise” website.


David has over 30 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He recently joined Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at or, he can be followed on Twitter @NJDavidD , and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at