This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

The underlying theme: “To make video collaboration ubiquitous”.

This morning Polycom issued a bevy of press releases in support of its RealPresence platform launch, which includes solutions for its traditional Enterprise customers, Service Providers and the mobile industry. The underlying theme for all of their announcements today is the statement: “To make video collaboration ubiquitous”. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Make video something everyone can use independent of device, network, protocol or application.

While this vision is an easy one to throw out there and say, the idea of pervasive, ubiquitous–or whatever you want to call it–video has been something we, as an industry, have talked about for years now but have made very little headway in achieving.

Despite the lack of movement in the past, I do think times are changing and the video industry is collectively working towards the vision of ubiquitous video. Today’s enterprise, service provider, and mobile announcements are strong proof points that Polycom is finally starting to walk the walk to make video pervasive.

The main focus of the enterprise announcement is a software development kit (SDK) that the company is directing towards software vendors and internal developers to test, build and deliver software on Polycom’s RealPresence platform. The concept is that the SDK makes it easy to customize applications to easily integrate with RealPresence for things like initiating calls, conference control, billing, scheduling, provisioning, etc. This makes the concept of building a ‘video enabled business process” much more realistic, as the video functionality will be built into existing applications instead of the user having to flip to a stand-alone tool. Along with this, Polycom also announced some custom implementation and consulting services to help customers and ISVs.

Lastly, the company announced a developer forum that kicks off this month for API and application support. In my opinion, how Polycom fosters and builds the developer forum will be the single biggest factor in the long-term success of the SDK. While the SDKs are necessary for competitiveness, the developer forum creates a defendable ecosystem that has tremendous “pull through” potential. Does anyone believe that Microsoft has a near monopoly on corporate desktops because of the quality of Windows? Ha! They created the best developer network the industry has ever seen and rode that to years of dominance.

Polycom talks about the move to software, and now the work begins. Developer networks require lots of funding, work, but most of all patience to build.

The service provider announcements revolve around enablement of public but also private and hybrid clouds. While public offerings is where most of the cloud industry focuses, private clouds can help deliver solutions today and provide a bridge to the future. Polycom’s RealPresence solution for service providers is a true multi-tenant platform that enables service providers both large and small to offer “video as a service”.

It’s important to note that large enterprises could use this solution as well to build their own private cloud. This is important for Polycom as the company has a huge base of customers with premise-based infrastructure that may also want to leverage the power of the cloud, but do it with an internal cloud.

Similar to the enterprise announcements, there are SDKs, documentation and sample code focused at carrier functions such as OSS/BSS support, scheduling, billing and monitoring. Additionally, there’s a service provider-focused developer forum to help grow a larger community around the RealPresence platform.

One additional service provider initiative was announced: a new technology partnership with session border controller (SBC) market leader Acme Packet. Acme’s SBC rocks and can secure and scale cloud services while providing broad interoperability between the various video protocols. This partnership should be a win-win for both companies.

The mobile part of the announcements revolved around–what else but BYOD? That seems to have become the topic du jour for much of the IT industry. RealPresence Mobile now supports the new iPad as well as HTC Smart Phones and Tablets. Polycom also added far end camera control for mobile devices, which is not only cool, but has some interesting implications for verticals such as healthcare and education.

Overall this is a strong set of announcements from Polycom and follows Cisco’s eyebrow raising move of joining the OVCC. No one vendor can make video ubiquitous but it seems like both Polycom and Cisco have realized that pervasive video would create a rising tide that would lift both of these companies.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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