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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."