Boardroom hardware for conference calls on an a-a-S basis

  • What’s next for Zoom when (some) companies come back to the office? 
  • The videoconferencing leader revealed Zoom Rooms, a hardware-as-a-service offering
  • Videoconferencing hardware will soon be “critical for offices, distance learning, telehealth, and more,” the firm says 

On the back of its recent earnings conference call (with a predictably good showing over the last quarter), Zoom has announced Zoom Rooms, and extension of its existing hardware-as-a-service, Zoom Phone.

The latter allows users to rent choice VOIP hardware for use on the Zoom network for a few dollars a month for each handset. Zoom Rooms extends this service to conference room-type hardware, with kit from manufacturers like Poly, (the Poly Studio X50, for example), Neat and DTEN, a 55″ interactive video conferencing panel.

“Amazing hardware partnerships are a key part of Zoom’s ecosystem,” said Zoom’s president of product and engineering, Velchamy Sankarlingam in a news release. “With many people globally coping with today’s unique challenges, easy access to hardware is critical for offices, distance learning, telehealth, and more.”

Pricing varies by type and slickness of equipment, and users can adopt different support levels for the service. Hardware refreshes are “as often as” every three years, so companies registering are assured of relatively up-to-date hardware.

However, note that the Zoom HaaS offerings are priced with no Zoom pc software costs, which are an additional charge. And, for now, Zoom’s HaaS range is a US-only offering.

Other providers and manufacturers are just starting to follow suit: Amazon’s Chime is already being advertised in the main-stream media (albeit as a consumer device), and we expect it won’t be long before compatibility with other systems and hardware begins to be prevalent — the GoTo suite from LogMeIn already works cheerfully with Microsoft Teams, for example. This could quickly be followed closely by full-blown collaborations, such as between Microsoft and Dell (Teams and Interactive-Touch monitors, respectively).

Zoom’s hardware-as-a-service emerges as an “end-to-end” communication platform, a phrase with which Zoom has an unfortunate history, having applied it to its software’s encryption properties, a position which it had to backpedal from rather rapidly.

However, the benefits of low up-front costs and refreshed and supported hardware could go a long way to increasing Zoom.us’s already burgeoning fortunes. Already in daily use as a verb (“the team will Zoom later”) and very nearly as a description of a technological concept (“see you at tomorrow’s Zoom quiz”), the company has indubitably done fantastically well to scale quite as quickly because it has done because the Coronavirus epidemic swept it to such ubiquity.

For many in the enterprise space with concerns about security and encryption, there has been recent comfort from Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan’s announcement of a 90-day plan on April 1 aimed at improving safety and security. In an article, Yuan has reported on the emergence of a “CISO Council” of the good and learned, stating that:

“[…] in less than weekly after announcing our 90-day plan […], some of the most well-respected CISOs on earth have offered us their time and services. This includes CISOs from HSBC, NTT Data, Procore, and Ellie Mae, among others. The purpose of the CISO Council will be to engage us in an ongoing dialogue about privacy, security, and technology issues and best practices — to share a few ideas and collaborate.”

It’s been some journey for a video conferencing supplier little known outside business circles to becoming thought-leaders in privacy and data security. Perhaps learning to be a verb has its advantages? For Zoom, its primary advantage is really a current market cap of 49 billion dollars.