As part of the effort to move videoconferencing out of the prescheduled, conference-room-based realm, Polycom with the new RMX 2000 addressed several issues that have kept the technology from being used from the desktop in an ad hoc way, the company said.
The RMX 2000 is based on the Advanced Telecom Computing architecture, which delivers greater "performance, reliability and serviceability," according to Megan Bouhamama, product marketing manager for Polycom, based in Pleasanton, Calif.
The platform supports IP communications over high bandwidth links with lower latency. "Its two-and-a-half to three times better performance than products in the market now" can offer, and the platform provides greater motion clarity and reduces talk-overs between parties, Bouhamama said.
Beta testers at W.R. Grace & Co. said they believe the platforms quality is much better than that of past videoconferencing technology. "In the old days there was video and audio stutter. Nobody wants to look at jerky, five-frames-a-second video," said Guy Welty, manager of global media networks and collaborative services for W.R. Grace & Co., in Columbia, Md. "Now you get 30 frames a second, which is more like traditional video on a TV. Now the motion is so fluent, its much more acceptable," added Welty, who has worked with videoconferencing technology for eight years.
The RMX 2000 allows multipoint collaboration over IP-based networks. It can scale from 20 ports to 80 ports. "It allows customers to start with a small videoconferencing network and grow to a fairly large size on single platform," Bouhamama said.
Polycom addressed an issue that has held back videoconferencing, complexity, by improving the usability of the platform. The RMX 2000 includes a new user interface, dubbed Advanced Click and View, to allow users to start a videoconference easily from a desktop or from a room-based system. The RMX 2000 automatically adjusts for the number of people in the conference, delivering the best layout for the number of conference attendees.
At the same time, to better serve conferencing on demand, the RMX 2000 allows specific operators to be assigned a different meeting room number that they use to start a conference. "They dial in and it dynamically proportions the different resources needed to support that particular conference," Bouhamama said.
Other reasons videoconferencing has not been adopted as rapidly as expected are its cost and the lack of flexibility of existing systems. One industry analyst, Roopam Jain, principal analyst for conferencing and collaboration at Frost & Sullivan in Palo Alto, Calif., said she sees the RMX 2000 as a "step in the right direction."
"Being able to very easily launch ad hoc or on-demand videoconferencing calls is really key, especially when you look at spreading the reach of videoconferencing beyond conference rooms to hundreds of desktops. At the desktop you want to collaborate as you need to. The RMX architecture enables an ad hoc videoconferencing model," she said.
Market research firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that the global videoconferencing systems and services market in 2006 totaled $1.3 billion, and that it is growing at a rate of 17.8 percent annually. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the market will reach $3.5 billion by 2011.
To accommodate service providers and large enterprises looking to prepare for next-generation networks, Polycom included support in the RMX 2000 for IP Multimedia Subsystem technology, which can help streamline network design and traffic flow for greater scalability. IMS uses SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) for call set-up.
The RMX 200 also supports a mix of endpoints, including Common Intermediate Format endpoints, Standard Definition endpoints and newer High-Definition endpoints. It is due out in March and is priced starting at $53,000.