Polycom Expands Microsoft Lync-Based Product Portfolio

by Jeffrey Burt

The company unveils the CX8000 video conferencing room system, which supports Microsoft's Lync 2013 UC platform.

Polycom is building on its partnership with Microsoft by rolling out a new video conferencing room system for the software maker's Lync unified communications platform.

Polycom's CX8000 offering expands the company's portfolio of more than 40 offerings for Lync and further strengthens a partnership with Microsoft that has spanned more than 10 years and has been a significant asset to the video conferencing vendor, according to Polycom officials.

"Lync has been a pretty phenomenal success story," Ted Colton, group vice president of strategic alliances at Polycom, told eWEEK. "There's been tremendous growth for Microsoft and Lync."

Lync's  success has also been a boon for Polycom, which competes with the likes of Cisco Systems and Avaya in a video conferencing space that continues to draw interest but that has seen declines in equipment revenues as businesses turn to software- and cloud-based offerings. During a conference call with analysts and journalists Jan. 22 to discuss fourth-quarter financial numbers, Polycom officials noted that the company’s UC Personal Devices business saw 33 percent growth, driven in large part by Lync-enabled handsets. In addition, Polycom has about 70 percent of the market of Lync-enabled handsets, they said.

"It’s a very, very solid business for us and obviously has been for the last few quarters, and we expect that to continue for a period of time," Polycom President and CEO Peter Leav said during the call.

The CX8000 system is designed to make it easier for remote and mobile workers to leverage the combined technologies of Polycom and Microsoft for video and voice conferences that include everything from presence and contact search to instant messaging, high-definition video and audio, virtual whiteboards, application sharing and touch-enabled presentations, Colton said. In addition, anyone can use these features from anywhere and on any device.

The system supports the latest version of Microsoft's unified communications platform, Lync 2013, which includes scalable video coding (SVC), built-in multiparty video, and improved audio and video capabilities, according to Colton. Those improvements are important, he said.

"Video is great, but you also need great audio built in," Colton said.

Polycom's system also includes integration with Microsoft's Outlook to help users start and manage meetings.

The CX8000 builds on the 360-degree, panoramic HD video system found on the company's center-of-table CX5000 Unified Conference Station.

Colton said a goal was to make the system simple to use, enabling people to join via a single click and to easily share documents. The system also comes in one- and two-screen models, and with the touch capabilities of Lync 2013, people can walk to the front of the room—with the camera following them—and mark up documents by touching the screen, as they would do on a traditional whiteboard.

The system also can interoperate with products from other vendors as well as cloud-based Lync environments, and can be used with mobile devices from Apple and those that run Google's Android mobile operating system, Colton said.

The system is aimed at enterprises, with a starting price of $15,000. It can be ordered now, with shipping starting in March. The company will demonstrate the CX8000 and other Lync-based solutions at the Integrated Systems Europe show this week in the Netherlands, at the Microsoft Lync 2014 Conference later this month in Las Vegas, and at HiMSS14 at the end of February in Orlando, Fla.


This article was originally published on Tuesday Feb 4th 2014