Cloud Provider Commentary

Feb 2 2012   8:03PM GMT

Polycom wholesales ‘Video as a Service,’ but what’s in it for cloud providers?

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati

Cloud providers

Meet Polycom, the network operator and wholesale cloud provider… wait, what?

Polycom. Yeah, you know them. They make the magic boxes that let you join a mobile video conference while the butler drives you to work or that make it virtually impossible to get away with playing Words with Friends during a meeting ever again (damn you, Triple Word box — so close, yet always so far away). Little-known fact: Their R&D department apparently consists of a bunch of third graders that test the ruggedness of their endpoints by playing “phone baseball” (by the way, anyone know if they’re hiring? I’m not a third grader nor am I blessed with good hand/eye coordination, but I am really good at breaking stuff. Like, really good).

Right, so we know Polycom the video conferencing vendor. Now meet Polycom, the Video Conferencing as a Service provider that wants you as a partner (yes, you, the one with the Cat 5 cables draped fashionably around your neck). So, what has this eligible bachelor have to offer cloud providers and cloud-minded telcos, MSPs and VARs? Here are the highlights:

  • Polycom recently announced what it calls the “RealPresence Cloud.” This is a brand name for the product/service package it’s now marketing to cloud providers. That package consists of a slightly-upgraded version of Polycom’s RealPresence platform (its UC/video conferencing software) and access to the private fiber network it acquired from HP when Polycom bought HP’s anemic Halo portfolio. If the Halo network lives up to Polycom’s hype about it, this could be a powerful combo.
  • Polycom is giving cloud providers two options for how they might resell this as a video as a service offering (which Polycom calls VaaS). Option one: A fully-managed, on-premises deployment of Polycom’s cloudified RealPresence platform. This is obviously aimed at the providers with some space in a data center (telcos, hosting providers, MSPs, etc). Option two: Polycom becomes the VaaS provider, and partners/cloud providers would resell or whitelabel the service — no muss, fuss or rack space required.
  • So, what did Polycom add to its UC and video conferencing platform to make it cloud-friendly? Two features: Multi-tenancy and a new set of APIs. The APIs should enable providers to tie the RealPresence platform into their OSS/BSS or RMM and PSA systems (opening the door for utility-based billing, self-provisioning, automation and orchestration, etc).

Of course, the big draw here for cloud providers and Polycom partners is increasing time to (a very hot) market. And if nothing else, here’s something that will make partners happy: Polycom says it has no plans to compete with its channel on this offering. It will only be a wholesaler.

“Polycom is not going to go retail [with this] — at all,” said John Antanaitis, Polycom’s vice president of product marketing, in a phone interview.

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