Polycom Grows Video Conferencing for Web, Cloud

At the InfoComm show, company officials unveil new offerings to help mobile workers collaborate from anywhere using multiple devices.

Polycom Web Suite

Polycom is expanding its RealPresence video conferencing platform with new tools that extend users' capabilities to collaborate using a variety of methods, including Web browsers.

At the InfoComm 2015 show in Orlando, Fla., June 16, Polycom officials announced new offerings for both Web-based users and those using the cloud for their collaboration. They also unveiled new capabilities for streaming video that can be shared with others in the conference.

The new solutions are aimed at making video conferencing tools more accessible and efficient, according to Ashan Willy, senior vice president of worldwide systems engineering and product management at Polycom.

"The market is changing, and today's announcement is symbolic of our mission to meet those needs by taking collaboration beyond the walls of the traditional office and making it easier and more intuitive," Willy said in a statement.

Those changes include a more mobile workforce and a proliferation of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Employees are demanding conferencing technologies that enable them to collaborate from anywhere at any time and on any device, with a user experience as good as what they would get if they were inside the walls of their offices. Established vendors like Polycom, Cisco Systems and LifeSize Communications are aggressively growing their portfolios to offer more software- and cloud-based offerings, while a growing number of smaller companies without hardware legacies are entering the market.

Among the new solutions from Polycom is the RealPresence Web Suite, which uses the WebRTC standard to help users collaborate by clicking on a Web link. It also enables large-scale WebRTC deployments in the enterprise, according to company officials. Other features include the ability to view and annotate multiple documents at the same time, virtual whiteboards and blackboards and a shared workspace that enables users to attach multiple documents when scheduling a meeting or to upload them during the meeting.

The suite comes in two versions: RealPresence Web Suite and RealPresence Web Suite Pro, the latter of which also supports WebRTC and enables HTML5 multiple document sharing with annotation, according to Greg Pisano, senior product marketing manager at Polycom.

"Bringing people together face-to-face over distances to collaborate not only improves communication, but also helps to build relationships, increase productivity and reduce cost," Pisano wrote in a post on the company blog.

Polycom also is growing its cloud capabilities. The RealPresence Cloud offering makes the company's collaboration platform available via a cloud platform and accessible through a Web browser, Microsoft's Skype for Business, or H.323- and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-compliant codecs. It offers users the same experience on a variety of endpoints, from conference room systems to smartphones, and a license gives customers access to other RealPresence products, including RealPresence Desktop and Mobile applications.

"The ability to communicate through the cloud is a game changer and it has created a trend called work shifting used to describe the shift from working in offices at set times to working at optimal times and convenient locations," Nia Celestin, global marketing lead for cloud and managed services at Polycom, wrote in a post on the company blog.

In addition, Polycom's RealPresence Media Suite offers customers a portal through which they can record, share, stream and play back videos during meetings. Company officials said the technology enables organizations to reduce the number of applications needed for such tasks as webcasting and e-learning, and can offer network-based recording for up to 100 concurrent video sessions. It also can stream up to 50 live events and reach up to 10,000 viewers through live Webcasts and recorded videos, they said.

The Media Suite is available now, while RealPresence Cloud will be available next month. Web Suite will be released in August.