Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar is the Vice President and Service Director at Nemertes Research, where he manages research operations, develops and manages...
Read Full Bio >>

Irwin Lazar | October 11, 2012 |


Polycom and the Rise of B2B Video

Polycom and the Rise of B2B Video As the number of options for establishing B2B video conferencing grows, so too does the value of video conferencing investments.

As the number of options for establishing B2B video conferencing grows, so too does the value of video conferencing investments.

This week in New York City, Polycom made a splash with a series of announcements that it claimed would "transform" the video conferencing industry. I'm not sure I would go that far, but Polycom's moves do go a very long way toward enabling broader support for cross-company video conferencing, and highlight the growing role that consumer technologies are playing in the enterprise.

B2B, or extranet video, allows video conferencing among business partners--and it has become popular: According to our research, 58% of businesses have implemented B2B video conferencing capabilities in 2012, versus just 47% in 2011. What's more, implementing B2B conferencing correlates positively with overall video conferencing success. IT leaders in organizations using or evaluating B2B conferencing report higher overall video conferencing success versus those that aren't implementing extranet conferencing capabilities.

What's more, B2B is driving overall video conferencing growth. Many of the IT leaders we interview tell us that the ability to establish conferences beyond the firewall is a key requirement for their overall video strategy, not just for immersive telepresence investments, but as a driver to deploy desktop video conferencing capabilities across the company.

Given this market dynamic, Polycom's introduction of CloudAXIS, a software solution for easing the challenge of B2B conferencing, is indeed important. The Polycom solution isn't the first B2B offering. Numerous competing solutions exist: Cisco's WebEx Telepresence (fomerly Callway), hosted video meeting rooms from Blue Jeans Network and Vidtel, and an announced free service from Vidyo (VidyoWay). In addition, many service providers offer managed interconnectivity between corporate video conferencing systems. However, Polycom CloudAXIS, along with Blue Jeans and Vidtel, is designed not just to bridge corporate rooms and desktops, but to also enable company-provided video conferencing users to engage with users of consumer services such as Facebook, Google Chat, and Skype.

Approaches vary. Blue Jeans and Vidtel are "bring your own service" offerings. Each establishes hosted meeting rooms that anyone can join from either standards-based video conferencing systems, or from public services. This approach has its advantage--there's relatively no barrier to entry and low setup costs for the enterprise buyer. But there are some drawbacks as well--some corporate IT shops are wary about engaging with users on public services due to concerns about privacy, security, and performance.

Here's where Polycom attempts to differentiate itself. Rather than directly federating with public services for video connectivity, CloudAXIS enables presence and directory federation--the actual video conference occurs using Polycom's web-based client. So a user on a corporate network can create a video conference, invite a Skype user via a federated connection to the Skype network, but when the Skype user joins the video conference, they come in via a web-based Polycom client rather than via Skype.

By choosing this route, Polycom hopes to alleviate the aforementioned security and privacy concerns, guarantee quality of the video session, reduce interoperability concerns, and enable participants to collaborate using screen or desktop sharing in addition to just video. Polycom customers can leverage existing capabilities as well for call recording.

It's worth noting that Polycom isn't the first vendor with the capability to allow external participants to join via browser. Blue Jeans supports this approach, as does Radvision and several others, but the differentiator for Polycom is the ability to federate its desktop client with public services for presence/IM integration, enabling a Polycom user to easily invite an external participant to join an active conference by issuing a clickable link rather than sending them "join" information via email or calendar invite.

Another important aspect to the Polycom announcement is the delivery model. Polycom is providing CloudAXIS as a software package available to both its corporate customers, as well as to channel partners who wish to establish their own hosted service. So Polycom isn't directly competing with the cloud providers, rather it is enabling its partners to deliver B2B as a hosted service, using its software. In this approach, Polycom's channel partners compete with other hosted offerings, rather than Polycom itself becoming a cloud-based service provider.

So what's the downside? For starters, Polycom's solution is designed to work with its own systems. If you are currently a Cisco, LifeSize or Radvision (Avaya) customer, and you want to have the same ease of setting up B2B conferences, you'll need to work with a Polycom channel provider to establish system interconnectivity; using CloudAXIS isn't as simple as going to a web site and signing up for an account.

In addition, since the solution isn't yet available we don't know the impact from a performance standpoint of running the browser-based video client on remote machines. And because the remote participant is using a Polycom web-based client rather than Google Chat or Skype, they are using an interface that is likely unfamiliar to them.

Overall though I'm excited to see the continued developments in the B2B video market. As Metcalfe's Law notes, the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. As the number of options for establishing B2B video conferencing grows, so too does the value of video conferencing investments.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
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.