Polycom Brings Videoconferencing To The Cloud
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Cisco rival Polycom plans to take yet another aspect of business into the ever-growing cloud: Videoconferencing. It’s a move Polycom hopes will evolve into a $12 billion business in under 3 year’s time and finally solve the age-old question: “How should we chat?”
Already popular among business professionals for their teleconferencing offerings, Polycom doesn’t have plans to compete outright with the likes of FaceTime, Google’s Hangouts or Skype. Instead, Polycom will offer a service which will tie all of these accounts together, removing a main stopgap in videoconferencing, deciding which service to use.
“Video is becoming more and more mission-critical, but it has not been taken up massively because of interoperability issues and inconsistent user experiences,” said Sudhakar Ramakrishna, the president of products and services at California-based Polycom, speaking to Reuters.
Called RealPresence CloudAXIS, this new offering will allow users to conduct their videoconferencing through accounts and channels which are already familiar to them, such as the aforementioned Google and Skype, all with an easy to use hyperlink.
According to the Wall Street Journal, CloudAXIS works by stepping in the middle, so to speak, of these other services, taking information from these directories and broadcasting them via the cloud in a web interface. This way, users can continue to use whichever service is most familiar to them, tying together Google, Facebook and Skype video calls in one window.
Polycom’s CEO, Andy Miller told the Journal he expects this offering to leave a lasting impression, saying, “We intend to frankly change the face of the collaboration industry.”
At present, Polycom is not yet able to bring FaceTime users into the fold, as FaceTime is available only for Apple products, such as the iPad, iPhone and Macs. Miller told the Journal, however, that they’ve been in talks with Apple and hope to one day offer this service to FaceTime users as well.
Polycom released a beta of this service today and say they will have a finished product available to large businesses and service providers by the end of the first quarter. Though they aren’t planning to take down any of these free video calling services, Polycom does have to contend with them as well as larger competitor Cisco, who currently offers telepresence virtual conference rooms as well as other collaboration services.
Polycom will continue to offer hardware based solutions, such as their own telepresence offerings and other RealPresence solutions such as RealPresence Desktop, RealPresence Mobile and RealPresence Social. As Polycom makes a move towards a cloud and software driven business, these existing options will help float the company along. According to the Reuters report, CloudAXIS should begin to start impacting Polycom’s financials in 12 to 18 months, near 2015.
Speaking to Reuters, Forrester Research analyst Philipp Karcher said CloudAXIS is an impressive offering, despite if it ends up changing the game like Polycom hopes it will.
“It is an evolution,” said Karcher while mentioning that Cisco is also “moving very aggressively into the web browser paradigm with WebEx.”