THE FALLOUT from voice-over-IP (VoIP) outfit Skype's second major outage last week has left some firms considering alternative means of internet messaging, with one rival outfit claiming Skype is not 'professional' enough for business use.
Skype's second major outage within a month came after Microsoft announced it intends to buy Skype for $8.5bn. That left many wondering whether Microsoft had overpaid for a company that generated profits of $7.6m last quarter. However as pundits were chewing over whether Microsoft was burning a boatload of cash, business customers that rely on Skype to provide VoIP and video-over-IP communications might be considering shifting their business elsewhere.
Vidyo, a firm that flogs video-over-IP kit said that firms need to invest in proper kit, not just free software if they want reliable communications. Ashish Gupta, CMO and SVP of corporate development at Vidyo Inc told The INQUIRER, "Skype has done a great deal to raise the profile of video conferencing and the entire industry is reaping the rewards. But news that it has crashed for the second time in less than two weeks is a wake-up call for businesses that they need to invest in enterprise-class, professional video conferencing. Companies need to ensure they have a future proof HD platform that is, most importantly, reliable."
Skype claimed that both outages had affected only "a small number" of its users. Judging by the number of comments The INQUIRER received and the fact that all of its writers all over the world were unable to get on Skype, its use of the phrase 'a small number' needs a pretty liberal interpretation.
Gupta's comments claiming Skype is not 'enterprise class' and 'professional' are a damning indictment on Skype. The problem for Skype is that, with two major outages and the news that Microsoft, a company that is hardly a shining beacon of reliability when it comes to software, is trying to buy it, it has to work pretty hard to show that it is a viable option for everyone.
Skype might be free for the majority of users but it does have an arm that concentrates on businesses of all sizes. The two outages coupled with the increasing number of software clients being disconnected from the Skype network might well have businesses looking at alternatives. Make no mistake, Microsoft will look to Skype as an enterprise telephony and messaging system in order to compete with rivals like Research in Motion.
"Skype is a great tool for consumers but enterprises ultimately need a solution that is fail safe," said Gupta. The INQUIRER asked Skype to comment on what, if anything, it was doing to ensure its service is suitable for enterprise customers, the ones that Gupta claimed need more than Skype, but the firm declined to comment even after receiving repeated requests.
Skype might not be willing to answer our questions but its business customers will need to be reassured that Skype's peer-to-peer network can handle the reliability demands of enterprise users, otherwise companies like Vidyo will take business away from what might become Microsoft's latest internet folly.
Vidyo has been in touch with The INQUIRER to clarify that Ashish Gupta mis-spoke, and he meant to comment that he believes Skype is "unreliable" rather than "unprofessional". µ