Polycom simplifies videoconferencing

By Carol Wilson

Polycom continues to push enterprise videoconferencing by making it easier to use, today announcing general availability of its Polycom Distributed Media Application 7000, an application that enables centralized management and distribution of multipoint video calls within an enterprise network. The idea is to make desktop videoconferencing as easy as reservationless audio conferencing is today, said Laura Shay, director of product marketing for Polycom's video solutions group.

Many telecom service providers resell the Polycom videoconferencing products to their enterprise customers, and this push to make videoconferencing easier should help them not only sell more systems but also sell the bandwidth to support videoconferencing, said Derrick Fitzgerald, senior product manager for the DMA 700. As businesses seek to save travel budgets, casual videoconferences for collaboration will have more appeal, Fitzgerald said.

Rather than require advance reservations for videoconferences on specific bridges within the network, as well as IT work to load-balance and manage video traffic, the DMA 700 moves the management into the network so that video traffic can be automatically routed to the best available bridge, Fitzgerald said.

“The challenge is about how to roll out a more effective collaboration solution,” Fitzgerald said. “With our CMA product, now we are rolling out desktop videoconferencing, and we need to look at how to make it more effective. How does an enterprise manage it on a daily basis, for two to three people to get together on a video call and make sure it is reliable and always on? DMA 700 is there to make sure it is available and scalable.”

Instead of having calls going directly into a bridge, the DMA 700 sits in the network in front of multipoint control bridges and figures out which bridge is available to take a call. End users within the enterprise get a personal meeting room number — or video extension — rather than a specific bridge number to call. That allows flexibility when one bridge is at capacity or when a network outage or other problem isolates a bridge, Fitzgerald said.

“Another benefit is that net admins do upgrades after hours so they don't impact application,” Fitzgerald said. “With this system, if they want to upgrade a bridge at Monday at 10 a.m., they can upgrade it, mark it offline, and all calls go to another bridge.”

Deployment is made easier by using an enterprise-wide directory option that adds a couple of digits as a prefix to a telephone extension to give every employee a video extension, he added. “Also, in the past, the IT guy has to manually load-balance, deciding who is a power user and who is a casual user and then manually guessing at what traffic is going to be. This takes away the manual load-balancing part.”

Some beta customers have assigned every staff person a video extension and have seen the service take off quickly in popularity, Fitzgerald said. The Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals is the first announced customer for the new application and is using the service for its statewide visual communications network to deliver telemedicine and distance learning.

“The technology brings expertise to where it is needed and has been a tremendous asset following hurricanes Katrina and Gustov,” said Gene Guffy, video administrator for the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals, in a prepared statement. “Adding the DMA 7000 to our distributed video network, which includes eight bridges and more than 125 endpoints, significantly reduces help-desk tasks associated with managing large-scale ad-hoc conferencing, which frees our time to tackle other projects. The DMA 7000 also ensures continuity of operations in the event of a natural disaster, power outage, equipment maintenance, etc. For example, if a bridge on one of our university campuses loses power, all audio and video calls using meetings rooms on that bridge are automatically routed to other resources on the network.” End of article.

For additional information regarding the benefits of telepresence, HD video conferencing and audio visual integration call 1-800-224-7083, or click here to have an IVCi Representative contact you.

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