Polycom Debuts Professional UC Services Options For VARs

Polycom on Tuesday launched a portfolio of professional services offerings it says will help VARs expand their unified communications (UC) practices. The services will be offered through solution providers, Polycom Global Services and vendor partners in Polycom's Open Collaboration Network program.

The services include Solution Planning & Design, Pilot Solution Deployment and Full Solution Deployment, the goal being to give Polycom-certified solution providers a way to make money through helping enterprise customers develop their UC infrastructure. They'll also help Polycom better compete with the services engines of its big rivals, like Cisco.

The move is in line, according to Polycom, with Polycom Connect, the four-month-old revamped channel program it rolled out in hopes of enticing its most loyal solution providers to add certifications and thus obtain more rewards.

"The strategy is to empower and enable them [VARs] to have augmented opportunities to make money with Polycom," said Maurizio Capuzzo, Polycom's vice president of global channel marketing. "They choose what suits them, but they're not just transferring a value-add knowledge. They're sharing the methodology and practices that are within each of those UC phases -- all the processes, workflow and tools -- that our Polycom experts use. That's made available to the partners."

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Polycom's Open Collaboration Network, through which it has strategic partnerships with everyone from Microsoft and Avaya to Juniper and IBM, will also play a role in the types of services offered. One of the first tailored services available, for example, is building architecture using Polycom products with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2, including Outlook integration.

Specific services involving other vendors' products and platforms, such as IBM Lotus, are in the works, said Jeff Connolly, director of professional services at Polycom. But partners will benefit most by having access to the same tools -- as well as the same support updates -- that Polycom uses in-house.

"We're going to share these things in an open-book fashion," Connolly explained. "Our best practices and our ongoing support updates for certified partners. We want them to build on their UC capabilities."

Next: Polycom Aims For Expanded Partner Base

The move should also help Polycom expand its partner base to include UC-centric VARs from Microsoft, Avaya and others. According to Polycom, the services training accounts for that.

"We can take a nontraditional Polycom partner, with a shop that's UC-focused, and the certification program is structured so that if a certified Microsoft individual comes to class, the individual is learning all the infrastructure included in Microsoft integrations," Connolly said.

Mike Brandofino, executive vice president for video and UC at AVI-APL, a Tampa, Fla.-based integrator, said that by offering services that combine Polycom with other vendors' infrastructure products, Polycom VARs become more versatile.

"We are able to support customer requirements from large and complex deployments that include UC platform, network and IT management application integration, to custom deployments that help organizations unify communication and collaboration across disparate systems and applications, and even leverage legacy equipment," said Brandofino in an e-mailed statement.