Polycom ready to take on competition head-on with Microsoft’s help

The big event that’s happening this week is Microsoft’s WPC, or Wordwide Partner Conference, going on in the nation’s capitol. So far the Redmond Giant has unveiled its cloud strategy (Azure) and mobile devices (Windows 7 tablets and smartphones), but there are more goodies to come (for instance, about its gaming tech Xbox and Kinect).

What we’re most interested in is updates on Communications Server “14,” the next generation OCS which made plenty of headlines earlier this year at VoiceCon Orlando.

Well, nothing new about “14” has come out of WPC, but partner Polycom did release news about new IP phones made specific for Communications Server “14.” Polycom’s new CX IP phones and telepresence solutions will work with “14” and the usual Microsoft productivity and collaboration software like Exchange and SharePoint.

I can see Microsoft gaining a slight edge against its competition in the UC space. First, partnerships with companies like Polycom are very important to maintain a thriving UC ecosystem, and Microsoft knows how to win partners. The company is able to focus on what it does best — software innovation — while partners come up with the nifty hardware and accessories. Cisco, on the other hand, favors manufacturing its own fancy phones, UC servers, and whatever software to make them all work.

Then there’s the whole interoperability debate. No matter which side of the debate you’re on, Microsoft can soundly say that it is committed to interoperability with being a founding member (Polycom, too) of the UCIF. Although Cisco has made numerous announcements about committing to interoperability, it shows no interest in joining this industry forum. So Microsoft may have won, for now, the interop publicity battle.

Recently Polycom CEO Andrew Miller went on the record to say that the company is not looking to be bought out. Having Microsoft as a close ally certainly doesn’t hurt…

Official press release from Polycom:

PLEASANTON, Calif. and Washington D.C. – Jul 12, 2010 : As technology leaders convene in Washington D.C. for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2010, Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), a global leader in telepresence, video and voice communications, will profile for the first time several enhanced capabilities of its new CX IP phones before an audience of Microsoft partners. Via native integration with Microsoft Communications Server “14,” a business solution for presence, instant messaging, voice, video and web conferencing that connects people in new ways, anytime, anywhere, Polycom’s new CX IP phones deliver a more affordable, rich unified communications experience.

“The once clear lines between voice communications, video conferencing, telecom, and IT are disappearing, as these previously disparate technologies are unifying under groundbreaking platforms like Microsoft Communications Server ’14,'” said Garry Reichert, vice president of Strategic Partners at Polycom. “Microsoft is an important partner in the Polycom Open Collaboration Network, and with the CX series IP phones profiled at WPC 2010, we are offering real-world solutions for channel partners who are looking to break out of fast-disappearing niches and succeed in a world increasingly defined by end-to-end UC solutions that are complete, compelling and interoperable.”

Polycom Solutions Optimized for Microsoft Unified Communications
The Polycom CX series includes two new network-based IP desktop phones (CX500 and CX600) and the industry’s first and only IP conference phone (CX3000) designed for Communications Server “14.” The three new phones offer one of the most robust feature sets available for Microsoft Communications Server “14,” including Polycom HD Voice™ sound quality and the legendary ease of use of Polycom’s renowned hardware and ergonomic design.

Polycom will also demonstrate additional UC solutions that deliver a richer experience with Communications Server “14” including the CX700 IP phone, CX5000 Unified Conference Station and Polycom HDX personal and room-based HD telepresence solutions. In addition, Polycom will show its integration with Microsoft in other areas including Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server to simplify the scheduling, joining, recording, streaming and rich content sharing for voice and video meetings. Polycom offers a comprehensive portfolio of integrated solutions spanning voice, video and application integration for Microsoft unified communications.

“At WPC, Microsoft partners from around the world will see how Polycom solutions maximize the reach of Communications Server ’14,’ while offering one of the highest-quality voice communications experiences delivered from Polycom HD Voice technology,” said Kirk Gregersen, senior director of Unified Communications at Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft has worked with Polycom to deliver exceptional voice and video experiences within a unified Microsoft environment. As our partners are learning this week, the CX series is an important part of that portfolio.”

CX IP Phones Features
All three new CX IP phones seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Communications Server “14,” independent of a PC, to provide enhanced unified communications to a broader set of use cases and environments. Some of the new enhancements include:

  • Photo-enabled contact information for easier recognition
  • Visual voicemail enables users to easily select only the voicemails they want to hear
  • Viewable calendar information on phone and join meetings easily with one-click
  • Automatic synchronization of call logs between both the phone and the Communicator “14” PC client, saving users time by reducing the number of look-ups
  • Simplified pin authentication for easy sign-in on any device
  • “Better together” USB connectivity (CX600 and CX3000) to an associated PC, enabling single sign-in, click-to-dial from a PC and audio coordination between phone and PC.

Partner Opportunities
For WPC 2010 attendees, Polycom will spotlight how its CX series phones enable information workers to access the productivity-enhancing features of Communications Server “14,” delivering a personalized phone experience that makes telephony a more effective part of business communications. Polycom also plans to outline the opportunities the CX series offers to Microsoft and Polycom channel partners. For Microsoft partners new to Polycom, the CX line and Polycom’s video conferencing and telepresence solutions offer an opportunity to enhance the revenue potential of Microsoft UC sales through a comprehensive hardware, software and services solution. For Polycom partners, the CX series offers a way to solve customers’ UC application needs with a unique Polycom solution and benefit from the momentum and new user capabilities surrounding Microsoft Communications Server “14.”

Pricing and Availability
Polycom CX series phones are affordably priced from MSRP U.S. $199 for the CX500 IP phone, designed for use in public areas; $299 for the CX600 IP desktop phone; and $849 for the CX3000 IP conference phone. The new phones will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010. To see a demo of the new phones, visit Polycom at WPC booth no. 339.

About Polycom
Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) is a global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit www.polycom.com for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.

© 2010 Polycom, Inc. All rights reserved. POLYCOM®, the Polycom “Triangles” logo and the names and marks associated with Polycom’s products are trademarks and/or service marks of Polycom, Inc. and are registered and/or common law marks in the United States and various other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.



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