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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.