Lifesize’s SaaS offering, Lifesize Cloud, uses Twilio Elastic SIP Trunking to provide a more flexible and affordable conference solution to customers around the world.
A global leader in video conferencing with more than 15,000 customers—including Netflix, Thomson Reuters, and NASA—Lifesize was founded in 2003 as an on-premises solution. By 2014, it had built an incredibly successful hardware-based video conferencing business, but there was still a large segment of the market that wasn't able or interested in procuring on-premises equipment for every conference room.
SMBs and enterprises increasingly expect their business tools to be delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) with sign-up and setup as easy as Gmail. At the time, there were no collaboration tools that provided that ease of use along with enterprise features, security, and uptime SLAs, which led employees to bring consumer communication tools into the office—from Skype to Google Hangouts. Lifesize saw the opportunity to provide an enterprise solution to this huge market and bet its business on it. It needed to transform from a hardware-first to a software-first company.
Michael Helmbrecht, chief product officer at Lifesize, explained the goals of introducing a SaaS offering were “to make it simpler, more scalable, and more cost-effective for customers to deploy video to every employee and every room. SaaS enables this at a speed and scale that simply is not possible with a customer premises infrastructure model, which was traditional in video.”
To build its SaaS offering, Lifesize partnered with best-of-breed technology providers so it could focus on its core competencies. Lifesize Cloud was designed with a modular application architecture and deployed in clustered, fault-tolerant nodes around the world. It chose IBM Softlayer for access to a global footprint of data centers, each of which is connected at 2,000 Gbps via a private network. Lifesize chose Twilio for instant access to global phone numbers and the public switched telephone network (PSTN). With Twilio, it could easily provision the numbers it needed for its video conferencing service.
Lifesize knew it needed to have global dial-ins for the launch of Lifesize Cloud, but setting up relationships with local providers in each country was not feasible. Contracts, number provisioning, legal hurdles, and capacity planning all would hinder the growth potential. “With Twilio, from day one we had local dial-in numbers for audio conferencing into our service in nearly 50 countries. To do that myself, it would have taken 5 years. I never would have done it. The ROI wouldn’t be there," said Helmbrecht.
Lifesize chose Twilio Elastic SIP Trunking for two key reasons: scalability and ease of integration. Scaling with Lifesize meant having a usage-based pricing model that mapped to a rapidly growing business, so it only paid for what customers used. As the customer base grew rapidly, Lifesize relied on Twilio’s international scale to expand into new geographies. It could purchase numbers around the world, provision trunks, and configure those trunks to its SIP proxy servers with a handful of API calls. Not only did this allow Lifesize to integrate PSTN connectivity into its solution in a matter of days, but as requests for new countries came in from customers and prospects, it could meet those requests and expand its footprint and customer base in the same day.
“We partnered with Twilio for SIP Trunking because it is like getting voice connectivity from every carrier in the world with a pay-as-you-go pricing model," said Helmbrecht. "Plus, as we expand Lifesize Cloud services globally, we're seeing a much faster time-to-market for adding voice capabilities in new countries, because we no longer have to do any capacity planning, negotiate separate contracts, or test individual connections."
We partnered with Twilio for SIP Trunking because it is like getting voice connectivity from every carrier in the world with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Lifesize Cloud—Lifesize’s third incarnation of a cloud video conferencing service and first to support dial-in numbers—has been incredibly successful by all metrics. Lifesize easily added dial-in numbers with Twilio to almost 50 countries in less than a month before launch of the service. “It had to be easy, that was a big value proposition for us. We’re not a massive army of engineers,” said Helmbrecht.
Ease of use is a competitive advantage, and the Life-size customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics have been higher than the company ever anticipated. Like any SaaS provider, Lifesize constantly measures the cost to acquire a customer, annual recurring revenue growth, and customer churn. Lifesize accelerated its sales cycle by up to 98 percent, reducing time-to-purchase from up to 60 days to a single day. After the first year of service, Lifesize Cloud served more than 70,000 paying users from more than 1,700 companies, making it the fastest growing product in the company’s history.
The transformation to a software-first company has been a clear success.
Hear more from Michael Helmbrecht about Elastic SIP Trunking and lessons learned moving to the cloud.