Last week at the Enterprise Connect event, Carousel was demonstrating the new Polycom CloudAXIS Suite in our booth and it was such a hit that we thought we’d delve into the topic a bit more here on the blog. Toward that end, we caught up with Roger Farnsworth, Senior Director of Cloud and Service Provider Solution Marketing at Polycom for this information packed podcast reviewing the new visual communications solution.
He calls the CloudAXIS Suite a game-changing development because it makes video collaboration so much simpler and easier – about as simple as sending a text or email.
Not Your Father’s Video Conferencing Solution
It’s no secret that ease of use has long been a stumbling block to the widespread adoption of video in the enterprise. “People have developed wonderful ways to connect using email, phone and other traditional channels. They can connect with little trouble,” Farnsworth says. “The video channel has often proven difficult because of differences in address methods and connectivity.”
Polycom has long been a leader in trying to remedy that situation, helping to drive standards-based video interoperability by working with partners such as Microsoft and IBM as well as with groups such as the Open Visual Collaboration Consortium.
“The real beauty of the RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite is now video communications will be as simple as sending an instant message or an email,” he says. That text or email will include a URL that the recipient simply clicks on to be connected to a video collaboration session. In that way, CloudAXIS closes the “air gap” that has long existed between enterprise video collaboration systems and the widespread availability of a Web environment, he says.
The Engine Behind the CloudAXIS Solution
CloudAXIS is a software-only add-on to the Polycom RealPresence video platform. End users need only a device that’s capable of supporting video and a Web browser, meaning most tablets, laptops, smart phones and video-capable desktops will work just fine. (Polycom will be coming out with a list of hardware and software requirements shortly.)
The first time a recipient gets an invitation to connect to a video session, he will be prompted to download a small plug-in. “It’s our goal to eliminate that plug-in,” Farnsworth says, but for the time being it’s necessary to ensure compatibility. And you only need to download it once; on subsequent sessions users will be able to dive right in.
“The vast majority of folks who receive a text or email with the URL will be up and running in seconds the first time and subsequently even more quickly,” he says.
And because the solution is built on top of the RealPresence platform, it takes advantage of all of its security features. “You can drive video collaboration outside the company borders according to the same type of enterprise policies and postures you currently have in use,” Farnsworth says. He notes that all meetings are invitation-only, meaning participants are “invited guests” who use the same path to collaboration sessions as internal employees. What’s more, meetings rooms are transient and users can mandate use of pass codes and encryption.
CloudAXIS Changes the Visual Communications Dynamic
“We think this will transform the video collaboration space,” he says, because it will make video so much easier to deploy to thousands of participants.
“Right now we have customers who have built RealPresence platform-based video collaboration solutions that touch hundreds of thousands of users and tens of thousands of participants in calls,” Farnsworth says. Editor’s Note: Personally, I think the real game changer here is going to be the quick three, five, ten person call that eliminates headaches for the invited guests and allows for ubiquitous use of video calling.
On another note, Polycom also has a large number of service providers using its platform to offer hosted video collaboration solutions. “They’re looking forward to getting the service provider version of CloudAXIS Suite later this year to offer their own services.” As a result, enterprises will have multiple options for how to deploy a video collaboration solution that can incorporate a few, or thousands of participants. “It’s going to continue to transform the way they do business,” he says. “It’s going to allow more remote working, business-to-business and business-to-consumer connectivity in a way we haven’t seen.”
The CloudAXIS Suite will be available next week, on April 1. The base license supports 100 concurrent users and additional increments are available from there.