Polycom, BT Video Conferencing, UC Managed Service Won't Cut Partners Out

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Polycom and BT announced a new unified communications and video conferencing managed service that will span all 120 countries in BT's network. But Polycom executives say there's plenty of room for Polycom's existing channel partners to continue to offer UC and video conferencing as a managed service, too.

Polycom has signed a three-year agreement with BT Group that the companies say will accelerate the growth of unified conferencing systems—including video conferencing—within enterprises around the world by offering unified communications as a managed services offering.

The announcement comes on the heels of a video conferencing mergers and acquisition market that’s been red hot lately. Last week, Cisco increased its offer to acquire video conferencing vendor Tandberg, and Logitech recently announced plans to acquire video conferencing upstart LifeSize.

That left Polycom as the odd man out—the only independent company selling video conferencing solutions left still standing when the merger music stopped. But not so fast, the company said. Soon after the LifeSize acquisition, Polycom’s CEO issued a statement saying to watch this space for news of partnerships.

And this week the company made good with that promise, announcing the partnership with BT, a telecom giant. The new partnership will create a joint offering that lets customers launch unified conferencing/communications solutions without upgrading their existing systems.

The announcement may give Polycom’s reseller channel partners pause as they wonder whether the voice and video conferencing equipment maker may be trying to cut smaller players out of the deal by partnering with large telecom carriers.

Not so, says Mark Roberts, vice president of partner marketing at Polycom.

"This won’t be an exclusive arrangement," says Roberts. "I see no reason why Polycom’s channel partners would not be offering the same kinds of services BT would be offering. We have smaller regional players that are doing exactly the same thing."

Roberts says the idea behind this is to make it as simple as possible for end customers, and the way to accomplish that is with a managed service.

The BT and Polycom offering will combine Polycom’s video communications and voice equipment with BT’s managed services and global high-speed MPLS network. The companies say that the solutions will enable business-to-business collaboration for multinational companies, large organizations, and small to medium-sized enterprises.

BT and Polycom’s agreement includes software development collaboration that brings BT’s Bridget Connect services to Polycom’s RMX conference infrastructure.

The first set of offerings is expected to be available by the end of this year, and will run over BT’s global network.

Roberts emphasizes that this is the first of Polycom and BT’s combined offerings. More will be on the way, he says.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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