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Polycom Announces Plan to Woo Enterprises and Service Providers with Cloud-based “Measure and Manage” Tools

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on Unified Communications & Collaboration


Polycom Announces Plan to Woo Enterprises and Service Providers with Cloud-based “Measure and Manage” Tools

By: -
24 May 2018

A few years ago, the formula to be a leading meeting endpoint provider was straightforward: Provide technology-leading endpoint devices in the room (conference phones, video conferencing systems, content sharing platforms), rock-solid connectivity to standards-based meeting services, and remote management so that enterprises and service providers could maintain the networked devices and troubleshoot issues.  Polycom has been delivering all of this for a long time.

Then the world got complex.  The rise of cloud-based meeting services like Skype for Business, Zoom, and BlueJeans made it possible to have software-only, non-standards-based, “service-attached” softphones or video conferencing applications –  extended to conference rooms and the newer category of huddle rooms, using inexpensive NUCs with USB components.  These “software” approaches work very well and have become quite popular – and those instances that still call for phones and “appliance” video conferencing systems may opt for lower cost suppliers.  So how might Polycom address this changing collaboration universe while ensuring a premium experience when using Polycom devices?  

Polycom’s answer is to spin the Cloud in some new ways, turning its installed base of 15 million desktop and conference phones and 1.8 million video conference systems into a unique advantage.  Today Polycom unveiled its unified cloud solutions strategy, Polycom Cloud Services, and release of a new service, Polycom Device Management Services (PDMS).  The initial goal of these services is to take Polycom’s ecosystem strategy to the Cloud and use it to simplify (initially) the audio device lifecycle management process.

Two flavors of PDMS are coming:

  1. PDMS-E, for large Enterprises, which will enable IT professionals to manage their Polycom audio and (later) video devices from a single cloud portal (support for provisioning, updating, and securing audio devices now, adding support for video by the end of 2018).
  2. PDMS-SP, for service providers, which also will become available in Q3. This version will be even more robust than the enterprise version, as to be expected, with more options for managing multiple types of devices and services.

Additional APIs are promised for Q3 as well.  Each of the services will be available via subscription from Polycom.

No doubt Polycom hopes to remain the endpoint supplier of choice – by further befriending the service providers themselves and giving them capabilities they don’t have.  The sort-of “Trojan horse” is giving service providers (and enterprises with lots of audio/video endpoints) access to the remote management capabilities built into the Polycom systems themselves.  It’s doing this via access to the Polycom management pages or via API.  Thus, in the case of PDMS-SP, service providers gain ‘eyes and ears’ as to what users are experiencing with their services through the endpoint devices that are out there ‘in the trenches’ without necessarily having to do any new development.  If there is a problem, Polycom endpoints not only alert the service provider, but give them clues into what the problem is through network statistics and other parameters (connected peripherals, software versions, etc.).

Here’s the rub: even if each service provider took the time to build these capabilities into their software endpoints, it would yield an endpoint that just works with their service.  Polycom hopes that the quality of its audio and video endpoints combined with the sheer number of installed base and these monitoring capabilities will gain the support of most of the leading meeting services – thus making Polycom (once again) the universal endpoint devices of preference.  Users of Polycom devices can change their service at any time yet achieve great quality, and service providers can tap into the full installed base of Polycom systems they manage to gain insight into the quality of the service they are delivering.  The ultimate goal: more uptime, higher quality meetings, better device management to avoid problems, and faster response when problems occur.

A hypothetical worldwide view of endpoint status using PDMS. 
Issues would change the endpoint color to yellow or red.

A win-win. At least on paper. We’ll be watching the uptake on the part of service providers, and if and how those APIs get integrated by competitive video providers.