Polycom Unveils Virtualized, Immersive Video Conferencing Solutions

The offerings will give organizations flexibility in their deployments, and the immersive system will challenge Cisco.

Polycom is addressing the increasing demands in video conferencing for cloud-based and virtualized software solutions with new offerings designed to make it easier to buy and deploy the technologies in its RealPresence platform.

At the same time, the company is returning to its hardware roots with a massive immersive room system designed to challenge rival Cisco Systems for high-end video conferencing deployments. At the same time, the RealPresence Immersive Studio also recognizes the trend toward greater worker mobility and the need for people to be able to participate in video conferences from anywhere and on any device.

The company, which announced the new offerings Feb. 11 at its Team Polycom conference, is aiming to make it easier for any business to find and install a video conferencing system that best fits its needs and budgets, according to John Antanaitis, vice president of solutions marketing at Polycom.

"It doesn't matter what size your organization is, we want to enable your organization to embrace the power of video collaboration," Antanaitis told eWEEK.

The new offerings come at a time of transition for the video conferencing market, he said. Most C-level executives understand the benefits of video communications in improving productivity and growing the business. What they are looking for now is help in getting these solutions selected and running.

"It's no longer 'Do you want video and do you understand video?'" Antanaitis said. "It's now about how you want your video delivered."

Increasingly that is via software, and the cloud will continue to play a growing role, according to analysts. IDC analysts have tracked the continued shrinking of revenues tied to video conferencing equipment as organizations opt for less costly software-based options. In December, the analyst firm found that in the third quarter 2013, sales of video conferencing equipment fell 9.7 percent over the same period in 2012.

Interest in video conferencing remains high, but "we are definitely starting to see the impact of lower-cost video systems and more software-centric products and offerings on the enterprise video equipment market," Rich Costello, senior analyst of enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC, said in a statement at the time.

Officials with Blue Jeans Network, one of a growing number of smaller vendors that are offering software- and cloud-based solutions, said earlier this month that the company saw about 500 percent growth in 2013, including a 50 percent growth in monthly usage of its technology and 100 percent growth in monthly subscribers in January. The company kicked off a limited promotion to encourage organizations to leave Web conferencing and video communications solutions from Cisco and Polycom in favor of Blue Jeans Network's offerings.

Polycom's Antanaitis acknowledged the rise of competitors like Blue Jeans and Vidyo, but said that such vendors don't offer the same level of expertise or the broad portfolio of Polycom. The range of new offerings is a testament to that, he said.