Polycom has unveiled a suite of video conferencing and collaboration tools as part of an effort to bring video calling to the masses through the use of the WebRTC standard.
The most notable new product is Web Suite, effectively a redesign and rebrand of the firm’s existing CloudAxis offering so that it can work in browsers that support the WebRTC standard as well as those that do not.
Neil Fluester, senior regional product manager for Polycom, told V3 that the current Web Connect tool works by installing a plug-in on devices when someone is sent a video conferencing link so that different machines and browsers can work together.
Browsers that support the WebRTC standard, such as Chrome, will not need this plug-in to be installed with Web Suite, while those that do will still receive the plug-in as required. This reduces complexity and makes it quicker to start calls.
“If you have a WebRTC-compliant browser it just works and launches your browser without the plug-in, but if you don’t it will still work, with the magic happening in the background to make the connection using a plug-in,” he said.
A second major component to Web Suite is that it can dynamically react to the types of end-points and connections being made on the service.
If more than three people try to host a WebRTC-based call, it will move the call to a ‘bridge’ in the cloud so that, rather than each person in the call having to send multiple video streams to different users, the bridge will create a single stream for each person. This helps maintain call quality and reduces bandwidth.
Secondly, it will detect whether someone is joining the call not using a browser with WebRTC, such as from a traditional video conferencing end point, and automatically host the call in a bridge, where the necessary standards can be applied to the content so it can be shared between all the end-points connected.
Fluester explained that Web Suite makes it easier to share content in higher-quality forms, such as 2K, 4K and 8K, for sharing content such as x-rays, CAD drawings or Excel spreadsheets.
Web Suite also allows companies using the software to expose the scheduling assistant to clients and customers, so if they wish to arrange a call in the calendar, such as with a bank manager or doctor, they can request this.
“You don’t have to have any Polycom equipment, or any software installed to do this, you just request a call and then carry it out in the browser,” Fluester added.
The second major Polycom announcement is RealPresence Cloud, which effectively puts Polycom's standard video calling software deployed by businesses into the cloud, thereby removing the hardware requirements for video conferencing.
“This means you can have all the normal functionality you get from video conferencing but without having to deploy and manage servers, which makes using video conferencing more of an opex than a capex cost,” Fluester said.
“The only upfront cost is on the calling devices, but everything else is in the cloud.”
The final offering is Media Suite which allows businesses and individuals to take advantage of their video hardware not just to make calls but to stream and record video that can be shared.
Fluester said that this may appeal to executives who wish to record and share information on sales figures, targets or general business updates, and makes it easy to share the finished product within the software, similar to using YouTube.
Fabes has held senior IT positions for over 30 years
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