Polycom Eyes Cisco With Lower-Cost Telepresence Options

Will Polycom take some of Cisco's unified communications market share with revamped UC Intelligent Core video services platform, VoIP, and cloud-based content management options?

Robert Mullins

June 14, 2011

3 Min Read
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Cisco Umi

Cisco Umi

Slideshow: Cisco Umi Takes Telepresence To The Home(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Unified communications vendor Polycom unveiled Tuesday an update to its UC Intelligent Core video services platform and an immersive telepresence system that may be more affordable for some customers than the OTX 300 system the company introduced a year ago.

These and other new Polycom products are coming out as the UC space enjoys double-digit growth as businesses expand use of collaboration tools, including high-definition video, to help employees work together from distant locations.

The new UC Intelligent Core platform gives UC service providers the capability to support as many as 75,000 end-point devices and 25,000 concurrent calls, which Polycom says is five times more capacity than its nearest competitor.

Two models of the new OTX 100 line of immersive telepresence equipment offer high-definition video at two different locations for smaller installations, using fewer conference participants and at lower prices than the OTX 300. The OTX 100 and OTX 100 Compact will be available in October at a starting list price of $99,999 and $79,999, respectively.

The products are being introduced at the InfoComm 2011 Conference and Expo in Orlando, Fla. Also being introduced is the SoundStructure VoIP interface, which delivers the audio-management capabilities of SoundStructure--audio capture, echo cancellation, noise suppression, and gain control--and now makes that available in installed voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) environments. The VoIP options will be available in the fourth quarter of this year starting at $875.

Polycom is also offering two new cloud-based video content management solutions from its $50 million March acquisition of Accordent Technologies. Polycom's Accordent Media Management System (AMMS) v 4.5 and Accordent Capture Station (ACS) v 5.1 automate the various steps required to create, manage, and deliver video. Both products integrate with Polycom's RSS 4000 video server as well as with Microsoft videoconferencing environments such as Lync, SharePoint, SQL, and Silverlight. The AMMS product (starting at $55,000) adds various automation enhancements, while the ACS ($15,000) supports HTML5 to deliver rich media content to mobile devices such as the Apple iPad and iPhone.

Polycom announced plans June 1 to acquire the visual collaboration business of HP, including its Halo telepresence system, for $89 million. But because that acquisition hasn't yet closed, the HP products aren't part of this announcement, said John Antanaitis, VP of product marketing at Polycom.

The new products are part of a Polycom "UC Everywhere" campaign to bring the benefits of unified communications, including visual collaboration, to more small and midsized business, as well as the enterprises Polycom already serves, said Antanaitis.

"The crux of it really is to bring the benefits of visual collaboration to allow organizations to be more productive, to make faster decisions, to have higher impacts, and to do more for less," he said.

The enterprise UC market is forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 37% to $14.5 billion by 2015, Antanaitis said, citing Forrester research. An August 2010 Gartner survey of IT professionals found that they expect half of their employees to be using some form of videoconferencing at the desktop within two years.

Polycom's biggest competitor in the worldwide videoconferencing space is Cisco Systems. According to Wainhouse Research, Cisco controlled 39% of the videoconferencing market to Polycom's 34%, based on revenue, in the first quarter of 2011. Based on unit sales, however, Polycom held a 45% share to Cisco's 25%. A third player, Team China, held an 11% share based on revenue and 12% based on units.

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