Cisco Systems has completed its buyout of Tandberg for $3.4 billion in a effort to expand and improve their telepresence business. But the news arrives as upstarts like Zenith Infotech and Vu Telepresence also enter the market. Here's the deal.

Just a little background: Tandberg is a video conferencing company and manufacturer of video systems, originally located in Oslo, Norway. They've been heavily into developing personal and professional grade video conferencing devices since 1989. (You can check out Wikipedia for a picture of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with a Tandberg video conferencing device. )

According to, Marthin De Beer, Cisco's Senior VP, couldn't make it out to Europe to meet Tandberg's CEO (Fredrik Halvorsen) because of Iceland's volcanic ash clogging the skies. So quite appropriately, they used TelePresence to announce the deal.

Tanberg's line of products will be assimilated into the Cisco TelePresence portfolio, and Cisco is looking to move TelePresence technology and services into the cloud. Part of this acquisition is to strengthen "interoperability" between different platforms and make TelePresence technology more ubiquitous and easy to use.

NewsFactor also reported that Fredrik Halvorsen will be going from CEO to senior vice president for the new Cisco TelePresence Technology Group. A lengthy year 12-18 month product integration will then commence, along with new marketing schemes by Cisco to "go into new markets" which apparently, according to De Beer, include sports, entertainment, education and healthcare.

Meanwhile, upstarts continue to move into the telepresence market. One prime example involves low-cost Vu Telepresence solutions from Zenith Infotech, which are on display at this week's Autotask Community Live conference in Miami. Roughly 500 MSPs and VARs are at the conference.

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