Polycom Expands Unified Conferencing for Service Providers

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-03-15 Print this article Print

UPDATED: The company adds audio capabilities from its Voyant acquisition into a carrier-grade offering that merges video, voice and Web conferencing.

Conferencing vendor Polycom Inc. on Monday unveiled the first fruits of its acquisition earlier this year of voice conferencing vendor Voyant Technologies Inc. Polycom launched a unified conferencing product line named Convene aimed at service providers. It brings together Voyants OCI voice conferencing bridges with Polycoms MGC video conferencing bridges and WebOffice Web conferencing portal. Calling it the first "carrier-grade" solution for tying together voice, video and Web conferencing, Polycom said the new offering also lets users initiate conferences from multiple avenues—such as through personal meeting numbers or through the WebOffice portal.
Polycom had launched its WebOffice product about a year ago, first focused on Web conferencing, but has progressively added further conferencing options including video conferencing to it. It acts as a conferencing portal and includes an enterprise instant messaging application that provides presence information and through which conferences can be launched.
Polycoms acquisition of Voyant, completed in January, provided anther piece to WebOffice—carrier-grade voice conferencing, Polycom spokesman Kevin Young said. "This is the first step in many integration projects coming up," he said of the acquisition. Polycom also has partnered with Avaya to better combine IP telephony and videoconferencing. Click here to read more about the companies joint plans. While focused on service providers, Convene also is targeted at large enterprises with expansive video and voice conferencing equipment. Convene allows providers to start with one type of conferencing—voice, video or Web—and add others over time, Young said. It also supports multivendor videoconferencing endpoints, though users of Polycoms video equipment gain extra presence features, Young said. Convene supports multiple conferencing standards, including the SIP and H.323 IP standards for voice and videoconferencing as well as the public-switched telephone network voice support and ISDN (H.320) video support. Convene is available now. Pricing starts at about $200,000 for an integrated system but varies widely depending on the configuration of conferencing options and the volume purchased, Polycom said. Editors Note: This story was updated to include specific pricing information. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging Center at http://messaging.eweek.com for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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