Polycom Offers Wholesale Video-As-A-Service

Videoconferencing vendor also touts integration with IBM UC products at Lotusphere conference.

Robert Mullins

January 18, 2012

3 Min Read
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Videoconferencing system vendor Polycom is announcing Wednesday that it will launch a cloud-based video-as-a-service offering to service providers and other strategic partners on a wholesale basis only.

In addition, Polycom is announcing that its video conferencing technology will be natively integrated into IBM's Sametime unified communications (UC) offering; the Lotus Notes desktop client for managing business applications; and IBM Connections, the company's business social media platform. The announcements are being made at IBM Lotusphere 2012, a company conference held this week in Orlando, Fla.

The video-as-a-service wholesale offering--the Polycom RealPresence Cloud--will be built on the RealPresence platform, Polycom's software infrastructure for video collaboration, and can be hosted by the service provider on the Polycom RealPresence Network, which is based on what was the HP Halo/H-Ven Network that Polycom acquired from HP in 2011 for $89 million. The RealPresence Cloud also can run on the service provider's network, John Antanaitis, Polycom's vice president of product marketing, explained.

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"We're offering a wholesale solution today to those qualified service providers so that they can take that and offer it retail to the end user community," Antanaitas said. "We will not compete with our go-to-market partners."However, Polycom still will offer an on-premise video conferencing solution to enterprise customers that might compete with that of other service providers. It also will continue to sell videoconferencing infrastructure such as end points and other hardware, including, potentially, to subscribers to the cloud service, a Polycom spokeswoman said.

Antanaitas said Polycom's strategy with the new cloud service and other offerings is to provide "videobiquity." He pointed to industry figures on the sales of tablet computers and smartphones with video conferencing capability as evidence of the videobiquity trend, plus the fact that younger people already are comfortable collaborating with others via video and would want to continue to use video in the workplace.

The number of tablet computers--most of them video-enabled--sold in 2011 was expected to hit 64 million globally, according to the research firm Gartner, which Antanaitas said would be more than 50 percent above an earlier projection for the year of just 40 million units. By 2015, tablet sales will reach about 325 million annually for an installed base of 900 million. Simultaneously, 1 billion video-enabled smartphones will be shipping by 2015. Meanwhile, wireless carriers will continue to invest in greater network speeds and capacity as they transition to 3G and 4G networks, he said.

Polycom CEO Andy Miller, who spoke at Lotusphere, has said he sees videoconferencing gaining traction in 2012.

Besides the RealPresence Cloud announcement, Polycom also announced at Lotusphere tighter integration with IBM UC technology. The integration of Polycom RealPresence with IBM Sametime means that users can quickly initiate a high-definition video or audio call from within their e-mail or social business application. "You don't need to open a separate application to add video," said Antanaitas.Users of Lotus Notes can click on a box in an e-mail and add a video session to a meeting invitation.

Last year, Polycom also introduced a new room video telepresence system, the CX7000, with native integration with Microsoft Lync, a competitor to IBM in the UC space.

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