Polycom Mounts 'Largest Product Launch In Our History'8:00 AM EST Mon. Oct. 08, 2012
Polycom on Monday confirmed a massive portfolio expansion that's expected to broaden the company's total addressable market, create upsell opportunities for its channel and service provider partners and put an exclamation point on its recent resurgence, including what analysts say has been a nearly eight-point enterprise video market share gain in the last six months.
The announcements continue a more recent strategy to focus on software's role in unified communications (UC), especially as it relates to videoconferencing. Polycom's new products, which include a cross-platform bridging service and a multiprotocol MCU that will run on industry-standard servers, are expected to be the defining launch for CEO Andy Miller, who joined Polycom in 2010 and has since remade nearly the entire executive team while shifting the company's focus away from hardware.
"This has been in the works for two years when you count road-map planning," Jim Kruger, Polycom senior vice president of global solutions marketing, told CRN last week. "We are accelerating here and we intend to be the leading company to buy video collaboration from, bar none."
Several analyst reports put Polycom's recent market share gains in the first and second quarter at about 8 percent, with the bulk of that appearing to have come at enterprise video-dominator Cisco's expense.
Kruger said Polycom will look to continue that momentum and also look to fend off a range of smaller competitors, from LifeSize and Vidyo to the buzzed-about multiprotocol videoconference bridging services provided by startups like Blue Jeans Network and Vidtel.
New to Polycom as of Monday are what it calls the RealPresence CloudAxis, an extension to its RealPresence UC platform to let Polycom videoconferencing users more easily connect to videoconferences with users of Skype, Facebook, Google Talk and other platforms, using a Web browser. CloudAxis can be run both in private clouds within enterprises or off the public cloud, and Polycom plans to let service provider and managed services-focused partners sell the service under a white label agreement -- "powered by Polycom," Kruger said -- if they so choose.
According to Kruger, users of CloudAxis can access a corporate directory and drag and drop participants into a Polycom video call -- up to 40 users at once. Unlike other bridging services that promise easier video integration of B2B and B2C video callers, Polycom is "not attempting to mix and match different protocol technologies," Kruger explained, but rather leveraging IM capabilities through means like standard XMPP for proxy integration and Skype's open API.
"Everyone on the call is on a Polycom codec," he said, emphasizing that Polycom intends to market the service primarily through channel partners, who it will begin training with the help of distributors and e-learning partners.
"We're providing huge investment protection for our customers," he said. "And this is a huge opportunity for our channels to upgrade their existing customers and be the partner to make sure all of this goes smoothly."
NEXT: More Support For SVC, New Software Updates, More Endpoints
Also new as of Monday is that Polycom now fully supports Scalable Video Coding (SVC) technology, saying its users can now enjoy three times the HD multipoint capacity in their videoconferences while lowering costs and eliminating the need for SVC gateways.
SVC support will be made available to Polycom users as a software update to RealPresence, including the RealPresence Collaboration Server 7.8 (RMX), Resource Manager 7.1 and Virtualization Manager 5.1 (DMA). Polycom previously confirmed it would license its SVC implementation to the broader video industry royalty-free.
Another major Polycom announcement is RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s, Virtual Edition, a multiprotocol, software MCU that can run on industry-standard servers. The idea is that delivering virtualized video collaboration from the data center will drive down overall video infrastructure costs while also making video easier to use. Polycom plans to start on Dell servers and expand to other big industry names, Polycom's Kruger said.
Polycom's UX platform is also getting a substantial makeover, including a redesigned user interface and a patent-pending Polycom technology called SmartPairing, which can wirelessly connect mobile devices like Apple's iPad to various Polycom products, including its HDX units. Polycom users will be able to control video meetings off their iPads and also transfer video calls from tablets to other screens by swiping a finger.
Finally, Polycom is rolling out new endpoints as well: the RealPresence 300, 500 and 700 Group Series room systems, RealPresence VisualEdge systems, which are less than an inch thick and offer 1080p60 resolution, and an updated version of its RealPresence Desktop 2.0 software for Windows- and Mac-based PCs and laptops.
Polycom's top executives, including Miller, are expected to officially launch the portfolio later Monday during an analyst conference in New York.
"With this set of announcements, Polycom is tackling these adoption barriers head-on by making video conferencing easier to deploy, easier to use, and easier to scale without forcing forklift upgrades. This is the type of innovation and vision that made Polycom an early market leader in video collaboration," Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner with Wainhouse Research, said in a statement emailed to CRN. "Make no mistake: we are seeing Polycom 2.0."
PUBLISHED OCT. 8, 2012