Polycom Unveils Cloud-Enabled RealPresence Collaboration Offering

The company later this quarter will launch Clariti, which will offer all of RealPresence's features in software that can be deployed in the cloud.

Polycom collaboration

Polycom is taking its RealPresence collaboration technology to the cloud.

Company officials this week unveiled RealPresence Clariti, a new offering that essentially offers all the collaboration infrastructure and capabilities of RealPresence—from audio and video bridging to call control, device management, software clients, analytics, scheduling and firewall traversing—as software that can be deployed in the cloud. It also supports Polycom's RealConnect technology, with interoperability with Microsoft's Skype for Business.

Clariti can be deployed in multiple ways—through a hosted service from a partner, via private cloud or in a hybrid cloud—and paid for through a per-user model. It also offers a cloud bursting capability to protect against network resources that are unable to handle the traffic necessary for the collaboration session. If more network capacity is needed, meeting participants are automatically transferred into Polycom's cloud with no interruption to the conference, a feature offered as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

For businesses looking for ways to pay for collaboration technology, the cloud bursting feature is a big deal, according to Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research.

"When deploying infrastructure, customers typically must choose between the lesser of two evils—buy for peak utilization and have the system sit idle most of the time or buy for normal operations and have performance degrade during peak times," Kerravala wrote on the No Jitter blog site. "Now customers can buy what they need today, and then burst when required."

Collaboration technologies are rapidly making their way into the cloud. Analysts with IHS Infonetics in December 2015 said they expected revenue for the year in the worldwide cloud video conferencing service space to increase 25 percent over 2014, reaching $281 million, with businesses opting for the flexibility, agility and cost savings that cloud-based offerings provide. Soon most of the revenue growth in video conferencing will come from cloud services, the analysts said.

With RealPresence Clariti, Polycom has shored up one of the weaknesses of its RealPresence platform, Kerravala wrote. Currently, the platform does a good job enabling users to connect with each other anywhere, at any time and on any device, addressing the increasing digitization of the modern business environment. However, it's pricing and consumption model hasn't kept up with demand.

"As is the case in much of the UC [unified communications] industry, infrastructure deployment typically requires understanding a complicated web of different products resulting in high upfront costs," Kerravala wrote. "Also, one of the challenges the UC industry has had is in calculating return on investment (ROI) for technology deployment. … UC becomes a technology they can't live without, but building the ROI story is difficult to do without having that knowledge beforehand. Consequently, 'sticker shock' combined with murky ROI has been one of the largest inhibitors to UC deployments, including for Polycom."

Clariti's subscription pricing model makes it easier for users to better understand what they are paying for, and that they are paying for what they use. It's what Polycom was going for, according to Roger Farnsworth, head of marketing, infrastructure and services at the company.

"It's an all-in entitlement to the full value of Polycom collaboration infrastructure—all the high-quality features, functions, quality and options our customers expected with new simplified pricing, more approachable implementation and deployment options, powerful analytics and the extensibility to address the majority of business problems," Farnsworth wrote in a post on the company blog. "Together with our partners, Polycom will be able to help customers easily get started with collaboration, on their terms, at prices that make sense."

RealPresence Clariti will be available later this quarter, and the cloud burst IaaS will be available in North America in second quarter and worldwide after that.

Along with Clariti, Polycom officials also this week unveiled the new Polycom Sandbox, which will give developers and partners access to the vendor's APIs and software-development kits (SDKs) so they can development applications for Polycom's offerings and integrate video collaboration into their workflows. The Sandbox virtual lab will be available in the first half of the year.