ORLANDO, Fla.--At Lotusphere, videoconferencing and unified communications developer Polycom unveiled product updates and a partnership with IBM designed to bolster its social business strategy and simplify enterprises' integration of video, as well as a new video-as-a-service cloud offering.
"We're observing that video is becoming more pervasive. It's really gone far beyond what you may expect in terms of travel- or OPEX-reducing non-productive time," said Sue Hayden, executive vice president of strategic alliances at Polycom, in an interview with eWEEK. "When we're creating visually, we're much more productive in-person. You inherently and dramatically increase the productivity."
Polycom's RealPresence video solutions now feature native integration with the latest version of IBM Sametime and IBM Connections. As a result, users can place high-definition video and voice calls from within IBM's email and social business interfaces without having to open a separate application. Sametime users can locate contacts, check their presence status and directly connect via voice or video.
Customers can participate in video meetings hosted by the Polycom RealPresence platform via a Web browser, even if they don't have the Sametime client installed. Using Polycom's platform, users can directly connect point-to-point with other Sametime users as well as open standards-based video systems, ranging from immersive solutions to Polycom RealPresence Mobile for tablets. In addition, users can connect to multi-point video meetings directly from within the Sametime instant message client.
IBM Lotus Notes users can schedule calls or videoconferences by selecting a check-box for conference-call information.
"It takes the complexity out of video," Hayden said.
By 2015, more than 140 million people are predicted to use video chat, and they are expected to make 11 billion video chat calls that year, according to GigaOm.
Polycom is looking to further accelerate the adoption and penetration of its video-collaboration solutions, especially among small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and enterprises seeking video on-demand solutions through its announcement of Polycom RealPresence Cloud. The wholesale, carrier-ready offering is designed to enable service providers to quickly bring to market whitebox VaaS offerings.
RealPresence Cloud includes carrier-grade scalability, reliability, availability and security, as well as a fully managed video service that supports standards-based room, mobile, PC, and Web-based endpoints, according to Polycom. It also supports Microsoft Lync 2010, IBM Sametime and end-points that use the non-standard TIP protocol. The solution leverages the Polycom RealPresence Network (formerly the Halo/HVEN network, which Polycom acquired from HP in 2011) to allow service providers to accelerate their ability to deliver video from the cloud.
"As the demand for video collaboration continues to grow, cloud-delivered video offerings will be a key contributor to this growth. Many SMBs and enterprises will find video-as-a-service offerings attractive due to their flexibility, scalability and cost savings," said Rich Costello, IDC senior research analyst. "Polycom's cloud strategy is compelling, as it provides an accelerated path to market for cloud-delivered video, and gives services providers the robust infrastructure, scalability and interoperability needed to deploy wide-scale video clouds and deliver compelling VaaS solutions to customers."
The cloud is a scalable, affordable delivery mechanism for high-quality video, Hayden said. By offering it as a service, providers can quickly begin providing VaaS to clients, enabling them to communicate with remote employees, partners and customers, she said.
"The service providers want to provide that type of infrastructure to their customers quickly," Hayden said. "It's not just the mobility. It's the social [capabilities]. These applications are the way people are working."
Younger employees want to work at companies equipped with easy-to-use videoconferencing systems, she said. Yet these systems must deliver high-quality images and sound, Hayden said.