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A Great Cocktail: A splash of Polycom hardware combined with Zoom Services - Shaken not stirred

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A Great Cocktail: A splash of Polycom hardware combined with Zoom Services - Shaken not stirred
    

By: -
25 May 2017
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After winning the contest for the industry’s worst kept secret, Zoom and Polycom jointly announced a newly inked partnership and solution – the “Zoom Connector for Polycom” -  that enables customers to combine the Zoom meeting experience with Polycom’s room video conferencing solutions.  Key features include:

  • Single tap to start or join the meeting from the Polycom screen (no complicated pairing codes)
  • Works on Polycom RealPresence Debut and Polycom RealPresence Group Series room systems
  • Calendar-based integrations with Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal
  • Native integration – no additional hardware required

While we haven’t seen the technical details yet, our understanding is that the Zoom service will push out a proxy entry into the source calendar setting used by the Polycom system (exchange, google, etc.   Once done, a link to “join meeting” will appear on the Polycom’s on-screen menu.  One click later, the room system joins the Zoom-hosted meeting.    Bingo – the room system joins the Zoom-hosted meeting.

Bottom line:  after the one-time, wizard-driven configuration task is finished, users can start a scheduled Zoom meeting directly from the existing Polycom hardware or start an instant meeting if the room is configured with a personal meeting ID.  They can also use the room system to join Zoom meeting that are not on the calendar – a capability that has existed for standards-based systems since the first Zoom Connector was introduced.   The prerequisites are simple – you need a zoom account with a Zoom Connector for Polycom license (available directly from the Zoom portal by mid-June); a Windows PC, Server, or virtual machine for installing and running the Zoom Connector for Polycom API software, and of course a Polycom endpoint. 

Here’s What I Think

This announcement is a win-win for everyone.  It brings together two giants in the video conferencing and collaboration space; it gives customers a nice bump in ease-of-use while combining a product and a service that are both widely popular.  And in the process, both Zoom and Polycom expand their reach.  Customers of Polycom room systems need not feel disconnected from a VCaaS offering that is being adopted by millions of individuals in enterprises of all sizes.  And Zoom aficionados who have already purchased Polycom conference room hardware can leverage those investments for cloud-based communications. 

For Polycom, this is a welcome shift to a “join them, not fight them” strategy that recognizes where the company’s distinctive competence lies.  For Zoom, it is a continuation of the “all hands welcome” philosophy and another step in serving customers with a wide variety of endpoint needs.  Mixing my metaphors, customers can have their cake and eat it too.