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March 25, 2014

Discussing GoToMeeting Free with Citrix's Phil Chambers

Last week, Citrix released GoToMeeting Free, a WebRTC-based video chat service that can connect up to three users with HD video and audio conferencing capabilities for up to three users. I caught up with Phil Chambers, who runs product at Citrix and was CTO of Podio before Citrix acquired the cloud-based collaboration service in 2012, to talk about the move, why it decided to work with WebRTC and we can expect to see from this experimental product.

If you missed it, we also caught up with Ole Michelson, a developer at Citrix, last week and heard his perspective on working with WebRTC for this product. Chambers explained a little more about the strategy behind GoToMeeting Free, what he’s looking forward to seeing from WebRTC in the future and how this newest product fits into Citrix’s overall vision of improving communication and collaboration today.

 “We’ve been in the RTC game for a long time before it was available,” Chambers said. “WebRTC is the emerging standard and one that I think will dominate, and we want to be ahead of the curve. So even though it’s not supported in all the browsers yet, we see the way the world is going and want to be on top of that trend, be early adopters and support the standard.”

Browser support is one of the biggest disappointments and barriers in WebRTC today, Chambers says, and he’s looking forward to the day when Microsoft and Apple get on board with WebRTC. Everything leading up to the launch of GoToMeeting Free on the WebRTC side was a positive experience, he explained, apart from some browser support issues. Aside from the lack of support from Internet Explorer and Safari, the team also encountered some audio quality issues with Firefox – something Chambers says they brought up with Mozilla and is being worked on.

Despite these setbacks, he says the market trends are pointing to Chrome, so it’s a great opportunity for users and developers using WebRTC.

He explains the other business reasons and value for working with WebRTC, such as being able to offer a free product at a low-cost. For Citrix, users can seamlessly transition to larger sessions from ones like GoToMeeting Free because WebRTC is connected into Citrix’s traditional infrastructure.

“More and more you’ll see us adopt WebRTC across our product range,” Chambers said. Whether it’s WebRTC on the backend might not be transparent to users, but Citrix is focused on delivering better quality and enabling them to seamlessly move around with different communication and collaboration products.

“We’re allowing people to get work done seamlessly, no matter where they are, on any device. All Citrix products are aligned with that vision,” he said.

Leading up to the launch of GoToMeeting Free, the Citrix team had an internal experimental version of the product called Hu.tt. Chambers said their experience was so great – the quality was there, it was easy to develop and integrate, so they decided to take it under the main brand and get it out to a wider audience, which leads us to last week’s release.

In the future, GoToMeeting Free will incorporate content and document sharing functionality, and the types of features you would expect to allow people to more easily communicate and collaborate more effectively together. There are some other experimental apps coming out in the company’s roadmap that set out of bridge the real world with virtual meetings.

Just like other Citrix products, Chambers explains the company will be monitoring customer usage and feedback to better improve GoToMeeting Free and the user experience. They’ll be looking at how much it’s adopted, how often people use it, what typical upgrade paths are like – any data that can deliver insight into the product’s success.

“It’s only the beginning,” Chambers said.

Try GoToMeeting Free yourself! It’s available at free.gotomeeting.com

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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