Polycom, BT Conferencing Partner on Cloud-Based Video Offering

BT will use Polycom’s RealPresence video conferencing platform as the basis for the video as a service solution.

BT Conferencing is creating a cloud-based video conferencing service that will run atop Polycom€™s RealPresence platform, a move designed to build interoperability into the offering.

RealPresence is Polycom€™s software infrastructure for video communication, the foundational technology for the company€™s transformation from an endpoint vendor to a software-based solutions provider. The scalability and interoperability of the platform with video collaboration technologies from other vendors makes RealPresence a natural choice for a video as a service (VaaS) efforts like BT€™s, according to Gary Testa, global vice president for cloud and service providers at Polycom.

Such interoperability will be important given that 40 percent of the businesses in the past that would have bought the infrastructure technologies to enable video collaboration are now looking to get that capability as a service through the cloud, Testa told eWEEK. With a growing number of vendors€”from established companies like Cisco Systems and LifeSize Communications to smaller firms like Vidyo€”entering the video collaboration space, interoperability among vendor offerings is key for businesses looking to leverage the technology.

Businesses will want to be able to communicate with employees, partners or customers regardless of whether the video collaboration technology being used by the other people is not the same, he said. In addition, when one company buys another, there usually is a mix of vendor technologies. With BT€™s VaaS, businesses won€™t have to worry about whether different systems can work together.

Polycom€™s been pushing such interoperability by supporting open standards and helping establish the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC), a group created in October 2011 that has about two-dozen members, including BT.

In the partnership announced June 6, BT will combine the RealPresence platform with its own Onward management software to establish the underlying foundation of its VaaS offering.

Through the collaboration, BT Conferencing customers can opt for Polycom€™s RMXbridges software to manage their communications. In addition, Polycom€™s RealPresence infrastructure can work with multiple endpoints, from immersive telepresence systems to desktop systems and mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Video collaboration is becoming more popular with businesses that are looking for ways, not only to increase employee productivity but also to drive down costs, including travel expenses. According to IDC analysts, video conferencing revenues worldwide grew 14.4 percent over the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2011. In particular, sales of smaller telepresence and personal video conferencing technologies grew 28.5 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively.

However, revenues in the multi-codec telepresence market segment fell 38.7 percent, highlighting how video conferencing is pushing down into enterprises, which are looking for less complex and more affordable options to the large immersive telepresence offerings, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That demand is giving rise to vendors like Vidyo, which offer software-only solutions, and is fueling efforts by larger players like Polycom and Cisco to pursue more software-based strategies aimed at getting their video collaboration technologies out to as many endpoints as possible, including smartphones and tablets.

BT Conferencing's VaaS offerings are available immediately. More information can be found at the company€™s Website.