Polycom Enhances RealPresence Video Platform With Open APIs

The video collaboration vendor is looking to enable software developers to create applications and solutions that integrate into its RealPresence platform.

Polycom officials want to make it easier for both enterprise and service providers to offer video conferencing across their organizations and to their customers.

The company is offering a set of APIs across its RealPresence video collaboration platform and software development kits (SDKs) that enable third-party software developers to create applications that will integrate with Polycom€™s platform, and extend the reach of it into a wider range of industries. In addition, new APIs and multi-tenancy features added to RealPresence for service providers are designed to make it easier for them to offer video as a service (VaaS) through the cloud.

Polycom also has enhanced the platform€™s mobile device capabilities.

In business, many of the efforts have been focused on the end user, according to Jim Kruger, senior vice president of global solutions marketing at Polycom. However, other considerations must be taken into account.

€œWith enterprise video, it€™s really important not only to offer a strong end-user experience €¦ but also to make sure it€™s very simple and powerful for the IT person,€ Kruger told eWEEK.

For enterprises, the new APIs, announced July 16, will encourage independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop custom applications for the RealPresence platform, which will help fuel video collaboration by making it a greater part of every business processes, such as provisioning, scheduling, conference management, billing and resource reporting, according to company officials.

The company outlined several instances where businesses already are doing this, from making it easier for users to schedule video conferencing meetings to integrating Polycom technology into an existing platform to enable users to participate in virtual collaboration rooms using an avatar and live video streams. One Polycom customer is creating an application that will integrate video networking monitoring into the company€™s monitoring system so that everything can be managed through a single console.

Custom video conferencing applications also are important in verticals, including health care, education and government.

The APIs are €œgoing to open up the door for a lot of applications and a lot of innovation,€ Kruger said.

In addition to the APIs for enterprises, Polycom also is introducing the RealPresence Resource Manager that will increase the platform€™s scalability by 100 percent. A single instance of RealPresence Resource Manager can support up to 10,000 devices€”from immersive systems to tablets, smartphones and PCs. At the same time, the new solution is designed to make it easier for IT administrators to handle everything from provisioning new devices to the network to monitoring their company€™s use of the collaboration technology.

Such features are increasingly important given the booming bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, where businesses have to deal with a growing array of personal mobile devices that employees are using in the workplace. Being able to scale the number of devices that are being supported, and to more easily manage them, will enable enterprises to better support the BYOD push, Kruger said.

Service providers also will be able to leverage enhancements to the RealPresence platform to offer better VaaS capabilities that can more easily scale to fit demand. Video collaboration is increasingly being offered through the cloud, and a host of service providers€”from BT and 8x8 to Airtel and China Unicom€”already are using RealPresence, according to Polycom.

With the new APIs and SDKs, service providers can create new applications and solutions that leverage the RealPresence platform that can be offered to users. That will grow in importance as more businesses turn to service providers and the cloud for their video collaboration, according to Polycom€™s Kruger.

€œIt€™s much easier for them to subscribe to a service rather than having to manage it by themselves,€ he said.

Multi-tenancy is a key, Kruger said. Service providers can leverage RealPresence Resource Manager to support multiple customers in a single instance of the solution. The multi-tenancy features include fully segmented and consolidated views of conferences, schedules, devices and configurations, and a per-tenant view of schedules and devices. In addition, tenant administrators can enter device and user information securely, and the solution offers a director for each customer.

Polycom also has enhanced the mobile support in RealPresence. The company announced RealPresence Mobile 1.3 mobile video software, expanding its support to device maker HTC€™s One and One X smartphones and Jetstream tablet and Apple€™s new iPad 3. Polycom and HTC announced their collaboration earlier this year.

In addition, the new mobile software offers the ability for users to remotely control the camera on the other device being used in a video conference, including zooming in and out, panning or tilting the camera. Kruger said the new remote camera capabilities could be useful in such verticals as heath care, education and manufacturing, where it€™s important for remote users to control what they see. He said that feature will initially work with the iPad, but will be rolled out for other devices in the future.