Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>

Dave Michels | March 16, 2016 |


Microsoft Grooms Skype for Business for Rooms

Microsoft Grooms Skype for Business for Rooms Creates new initiative to video-enable conference rooms, pulls in Logitech and Polycom as initial partners.

Creates new initiative to video-enable conference rooms, pulls in Logitech and Polycom as initial partners.

Apparently taking the old saying "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" to heart, Microsoft once again touted solutions for video-enabling conference rooms from the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect, which took place last week. This time its approach applies to a wider range of rooms, and involves new solutions from Logitech and Polycom.

We live in digital times, but too many of our meeting facilities remain analog, with basic whiteboards, speakerphones, and simple displays and projectors. Many vendors have introduced "huddle room" solutions that are meant to make video conferencing more accessible to and cost-effective for small and medium corporate meeting spaces.

During his keynote, Zig Serafin, corporate VP of Skype Business Services at Microsoft, previewed plans to bring an experience inspired by the Microsoft Surface Hub to meeting rooms with standard displays and projectors. This initiative, called Project Rigel, uses a Surface Pro 4 tablet to provide a centralroom control point. Attendees simply touch the screen to start previously scheduled meetings, and they utilize a familiar UI to control views of content and participants.

Microsoft's Zig Serafin addresses the crowd during his Enterprise Connect keynote.

Logitech Logistics
The Logitech solution combines a new Surface Pro 4-specific dock with its recently announced Group or Connect ConferenceCam kits. For example, the new Logitech Group ConferenceCam includes a 10x optical zoom lens, wireless remote, and high-fidelity acoustic base capable of supporting up to 20 participants. An HDMI port supports standard displays and projectors. The dock provides the Surface Pro 4 interfaces for audio, video, and touch.

Logitech has not published pricing for its Project Rigel solution; however, the ConferenceCam systems run from $249 to $1,249. This new Project Rigel solution also will require the cost of the Surface Pro 4 and Logitech dock, plus, of course, a room display.

Polycom Plays On
Polycom is building Project Rigel solutions for the CX5100 Unified Conference Station and Group RealPresence Trio collaboration hub. Both solutions are expected later this year. All Project Rigel solutions require a Windows 10 PC, and some will only support audio conferencing.

A year ago, during his 2015 Enterprise Connect keynote, Serafin referenced the massive opportunity associated with video-enabling conference rooms. He then previewed two Skype for Business solutions: the co-branded Polycom RoundTable 100 and the Surface Hub. Neither of these has come to market. Microsoft and Polycom terminated development of the RoundTable last fall, and the Surface Hub, after several delays, is now expected this spring.

The Surface Hub is conceptually similar to the Lync Room System/Skype Room System solution launched in 2013, but features a full-powered embedded Windows10 PC. These solutions leverage touchscreen technology to create visual conferencing and electronic whiteboarding. They are not compatible with standard displays or projectors.

The Project Rigel solutions, in turn, are conceptually similar to the RoundTable 100, which was to have used a separate PC for processing and a mobile phone for control. The Surface Pro effectively replaces both devices, and provides a consistent user interface. Rigel's in-room accessories should ensure better sound.

Video at Large
Can't wait? At last week's Enterprise Connect, Logitech and Polycom each announced solutions outside of the Project Rigel initiative.

Logitech, for example, announced bundles that use either the Group or Connect ConferenceCams with an Intel NUC mini PC that runs the Intel Unite collaboration application. These solutions are designed for in-room content sharing and conferencing with several services including Skype for Business, Zoom, BlueJeans, Skype, Google Hangouts, Cisco Jabber, and others. These bundles will be available in April starting at $1,599, Logitech said.

And Polycom announced that its Group Series video solutions will now soon integrate with Skype for Business Online with Office 365, and the platform will offer an optional Skype for Business-like UI. Later this year, Microsoft and Polycom intend to launch a video interoperability service hosted on Azure and integrated into Office 365.

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

Follow Dave Michels on Twitter and Google+!
Dave Michels on Google+


May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.