Polycom Firming Up Software, Services Strategies For Partners

Polycom on Wednesday made several moves related to its expanding software strategy, with executives saying that Polycom's continued push toward software opportunities will help double its overall run rate over the next few years, from $1.5 billion to $3 billion.

The moves come at the same time Navin Mehta, Polycom's new senior vice president, global services, looks to broaden Polycom's services organization and offer more services opportunities through the channel.

According to Susan Hayden, Polycom's executive vice president, Channels, Alliances and Global Programs Organization, Polycom spends 85 percent of its R&D on software resources for unified communications. A number of Polycom's videoconferencing competitors already push software-only or software-centric approaches to video, and Hayden said the trend -- focusing on software infrastructure instead of hardware endpoints -- is legitimate.

"Software is really what's driving the growth in every area," Hayden said. "What we're finding with our software platform is that it's the fastest growing part of the business, up 51 percent year-over-year in the second quarter. This is the part of our solutions set that's really driving the most business value."

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Among the moves Wednesday is Polycom's rebranding of its UC Intelligent Core -- the software infrastructure that powers its telepresence and video products -- as the RealPresence Platform. Following updates Polycom made to the platform in June, RealPresence can support 25,000 concurrent sessions and 75,000 device registrations, as well as bridge devices and standards spanning H.323, TIP, SIP, POTS/ISDN and RTV.

It also sports native integration with Microsoft's Lync platform and IBM Sametime, and configures with a range of call control, web conferencing and mobile device vendors, too, from Adobe and Apple to Cisco, Avaya, Samsung and Siemens.

Polycom also said Wednesday it will further extend its application programming interfaces (API) to more solution providers, service providers and app developers to create and sell UC-centric applications and develop custom solutions with Polycom.

"This is a tremendous amount of revenue opportunity and upside for them," Hayden said. "Being able to provide services, interoperability, implementation, optimization and delivery of HD video solutions through the cloud are [is] a partner benefit and a business benefit."

Polycom's Developer Program will begin field trials in the first half of 2012, according to the company.

Also new this week is a strategic partnership between Polycom and Jive Software to integrate Polycom HD video into Jive's social media platform for business. Jive customers will be able to conduct live video conferences and record video meetings and messages using Polycom's tools.

New products have helped Polycom push further into software, but so have acquisitions. In March, Polycom paid $50 million to acquire Accordent Technologies, a specialist in video content management tools.

Polycom in June also acquired HP's video and telepresence business, and Hayden said the company is open to more acquisitions.

Next: Polycom Tightens Services Focus

A 28-year industry veteran with a resume that includes Comverse, Compaq, Nortel and Motorola, Navin Mehta joined Polycom in August as senior vice president, global services.

In an interview with CRN earlier this week, Mehta said Polycom has no desire to compete with its partners on services, and his role will be to expand Polycom's services offering beyond "product-attach" services -- or, installation, deployment, support and maintenance-type services -- and more sophisticated offerings many Polycom solution providers are equipped for.

"We feel that quite a few of our partners are ready to step up and say, 'Yes, we have the capabilities and the knowledge and the resources to make tha thappen,'" Mehta said. "We'd like to offer that service and subcontract it back to you, maybe in a white label. We're looking at doing it different ways, and being clear and open and transparent with partners."

Mehta said Polycom's services organization will approach the channel in "sell to," "sell with," and "sell-through" opportunities. He has spent his first weeks, Mehta said, talking with Polycom partners about the types of opportunities they'd like to see.

"As you know, the service function probably spends the most time with the end customer," he said. "A service person normally gets involved with a customer at the tail end of a sale and remains with that customer till the end of [the deal's] life. So there's the customer intimacy that comes with it."

The services strategy will be a "regular drumbeat" at Polycom during the next year, Mehta said, and partners will start seeing a lot of Polycom's new services opportunities starting in early 2012.

Mehta, who was most recently vice president of professional and application services at Motorola, reports to Sudhakar Ramakrishna, executive vice president and general manager of UC solutions and Polycom's chief development officer.

Ramakrishna is himself a former Motorola executive, and, like Hayden, joined Polycom a year ago as part of Polycom's ongoing executive makeover under CEO Andrew Miller. Mehta's predecessor in the services role was Alan Rudolph, who in March left Polycom after seven months to become a partner at SunGard Availability Services.