The UC alliance between Siemens Enterprise Communications Group and Polycom comes in the middle of other maneuverings in the market, including Cisco's intended acquisition of video conferencing equipment maker Tandberg. At the same time, Mitel is kicking off a bus tour through the United States to show off its UC offerings, including its TeleCollaboration telepresence software.
The maneuvering in the increasingly competitive video conferencing
space is continuing, with Siemens Enterprise Communications Group
announcing that it will integrate Polycom's telepresence technology
into its unified communications offerings.
The alliance and resale agreements between the two companies,
announced Jan. 21, comes as Cisco Systems continues on with plans to buy video conferencing rival Tandberg
for $3.4 billion, and other vendors, such as Logitech
, get into the space.
At the same time, Mitel is embarking on a four-month-long bus tour
to demonstrate the capabilities of its UC (unified communications)
offerings-including its TeleCollaboration telepresence software-to
partners and customers.
Video conferencing and telepresence technology is getting an
increasingly close look by businesses looking for ways to reduce travel
expenses and improve collaboration among employees and with customers.
That is dovetailing with the improvement in the technology in recent
Cisco officials have been vocal about the promise of video, saying
that the addressable market for its video and TelePresence products and
services could reach $50 billion by 2013.
"Everyone is trying to curtail costs," Jason Macres, vice president
of video solutions at SEN (Siemens Enterprise Communications Group),
said in an interview. "People are getting interested in the ROI of
video and in addressing travel costs. The ROI is very show now, and the
quality of the experience is very high."
Partnerships like the one between SEN Group and Polycom
both players to grow their customer base and expand the reach of their
offerings, which is important as rivals like Cisco continue to grow.
Macres said SEN Group, which also partners with Tandberg, will bring
Polycom's telepresence products into Siemens' OpenScape UC platform,
which is designed to offer customers a tightly integrated UC offering
that includes video.
Polycom's RMX and HDX products will be integrated
into SEN Group's next release of its OpenScape Video offering-version
2.1-which is due out in March, he said. The Polycom technologies will
be supported by SEN Group's OpenScale Services unit.
The deal with SEN Group is part of a larger strategy by Polycom to
collaborate with other vendors that need greater video capabilities in
their UC offerings, Mark Roberts, Polycom's vice president of
partnering and marketing, said in an interview. Currently many
businesses use video conferencing as "an island," Roberts said.
Integrating video into a larger UC portfolio makes it more accessible.
Other partners in Polycom's Open Collaboration Network include Avaya, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Broadsoft.
For its part, Mitel is looking to give businesses-particularly
SMBs-a less costly alternative to telepresence offerings from the likes
of Cisco and Tandberg, Steven Beamish, vice president of business
development and marketing for Mitel.
The company's TeleCollaboration product, released in 2009, is a
software offering that lets businesses use their own displays and
furniture, but still enables employees to collaborate closely on
documents, Beamish said.
That differs from what Cisco and others offer, where businesses buy
the equipment-such as displays and cameras-from the vendor as well, he
"We're less focused on the video, and more focused on collaboration," Beamish said.
The TeleCollaboration offering-which will be on display during
Mitel's four-month "Simply Communicating" bus tour through the United
States-can run on up to three screens, and while it's targeted at SMBs,
higher-end businesses also can take advantage of it.
Beamish said a key to the product is simplicity. Setting up a
meeting is done with a single click, people can get the collaboration
capabilities through a PC and documents can be shared and edited with
anyone in the meeting. Those who don't need the video capabilities can
be included in an audio-only mode.