William MacDonald, StarLeaf's CTO, discusses why infrastructure is blocking the march of video into the hands of the workforce and the SMB, and how StarLeaf has removed the need for capital expenditure!

For way too long, end users have been subjected to sticker shock when the final cost of video conferencing is tallied up. The prime culprit isn't the cost of the endpoints but the various management infrastructure, network devices and servers required for interoperability, call control, conferencing, scheduling etc. And we all know that as video scales there is more demand for more boxes.

However, in the video conferencing industry many baulk at the idea of selling cloud services, as it's the infrastructure that pushes revenue up. This is a double-edged sword because it is the high cost of infrastructure that limits the spread of business-grade video conferencing and prohibits new users in the SMB space. It is also the prime suspect when it comes to stopping the enterprise from ramping-up video. A cloud-based solution is the only way to remove financial barriers, delivering the enterprise greater mobility through software clients, and SMBs far better quality and a more reliable video solution than Skype and its ilk. However, even though StarLeaf is cloud-based, we understand that to successfully address these markets requires a new low cost pricing model.

To make it easy for the SMB and for those that want to scale video through the use of software clients, we offer "Concurrent Usage Licenses". This licensing approach allows customers to buy into our cloud-service, StarLeaf Call, and not worry about who should or should not have a soft client. Each Concurrent Usage License has a low fixed price but allows the customer to download, install and register 20 StarLeaf Breeze software clients, per license, for free. With this pricing model an organization only pays for the StarLeaf service it uses and can crank it up when needed. When a StarLeaf Breeze user makes or receives a call, it uses up one Concurrent Usage License. It doesn't matter if they are calling another StarLeaf Breeze user, someone outside the organization or whether they are calling a hardware endpoint. Furthermore, a Concurrent Usage License enables two individuals to join a multiparty video conference.

The price of the Concurrent Usage License is competitive and reasonable for both large and small organizations. For example, consider one organization with 100 users and another with only 10; both have the same usage pattern. Let's assume the probability of any user being on a video call is 1/10 i.e. 10% of the time. In this example, and in order to have a 99% chance of being able to make a call when needed, the 100-user organization needs 13 licenses, and the 10-user organization requires three. This translates into the 10-user organization needing a license for every three users, and the 100-user organization only needing a license for every eight users.

To address this anomaly, and to make the pricing appealing to small organizations, StarLeaf provides two licenses free-of-change for all new and first time customers. This is the StarLeaf Concurrent Usage License starter-pack costing $99 per month. All subsequent Concurrent Usage Licenses cost $99 per month.

This is how it works:

  • Cost per month for 10 users is $99, which is $10 per user per month
  • Cost per month for the 100 users is ((13-2) x $99) which is $11 per user per month

This is a purely theoretical example as there may well be factors, which are non-random that may affect these numbers. For example if the 10 person organization has an all hands meeting every Monday morning, then they would need all 10 users on a conference, that would require five Concurrent Usage Licenses. At the outset, and when gauging potential video usage, it pays to remember that each end user company will assess its need for video calling and conferencing. Thereafter, and to meet any increase in video usage, end users can easily add additional Concurrent Usage Licenses.

With StarLeaf our hardware devices require a dedicated "Service Access" license. This ensures that the endpoint is always on and ready to receive or make a call or join a conference. These licenses are independent of the Concurrent Usage Licenses. Necessarily so, since it would cause outrage if someone couldn't join a video conference or use a meeting room system because the Concurrent Usage Licenses were all in use! Therefore, the Service Access license is essential for businesses that want to equip meeting rooms and desktops with hardware devices. It also means that an organization with only hardware endpoints does not need any Concurrent Usage Licenses, unless they want an increased conferencing capability and the option to conference with guests from outside the organization.

See our video which explains this simple pricing plan for video calling and conferencing.

This pricing model is one more example of how StarLeaf is making video easier, in this case easier for the organization to allow everyone to connect using video.