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Polycom Employee
Polycom Employee

moved.pngIt’s true. We’ve moved the Polycom Techie blog to our company’s new blog, The View. We are looking forward to joining many of our other colleagues to share thoughts and expertise. To easily find posts by Techie authors on The View, just click the ‘Polycom Techie’ label, or http://bit.ly/TheVIEWTechie

 

We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with you on The View!

 

-The Polycom Techie team

 

Polycom Employee

Note this PolycomTechie blog post has moved. For the latest from Polycom Techie, visit The View blog ( http://bit.ly/TheVIEW ) or connect with us on Twitter: @polycomtechie

Super Collector

The amount of recorded video in our world is exploding.  In just about every sector from health care and education organizations, to global enterprise business, to local governments, organizations are creating a high volume of recorded videos for functions like corporate communications, online training, and video conferencing meetings. 

 

vcm healthcare.jpg

Training videos can be made available on-demand to employees. A health care example is shown above.

 

We’re at Enterprise Connect this week having conversations with our industry cohorts on business productivity, and a big question that keeps coming up: How do IT managers set a strategy for making their videos more searchable and useful? 

 

The answer is metadata. It’s an ambiguous term to many, but when the rubber meets the road, metadata gives people easy access to content. With apps like speech-to-text, users can search through videos to find content that otherwise would’ve been hard to locate. The beauty of it is that it’s intuitive. Most people in the workplace know how to search a Word document or a website for a keyword or phrase, and it’s not much of a leap for people to do this with recorded videos.

 

Making it easy to search a video as you would any other document increases the likelihood that video content will be found and used. Problem solved! More information about how you can help increase the value of your recorded videos and boost the productivity of your team members with deep indexing, search and analysis of recorded video is available in this document.

 

Here are my top 5 takeaways for how speech processing and media indexing impacts business:

  1. Knowledge workers find what they need faster.  Employees can efficiently discover the videos they need, and navigate easily to key words within the video, which saves time and effort.   Project teams see a boost in post-meeting productivity as video conference meetings are transcribed, making it easier for participants to find and review important discussion points which may be buried in an hour-long recording.
  2. Top-down communications are more easily consumed.  Corporate communications departments benefit from reduced effort through automation, where transcripts of executive webcasts are automatically generated and time coded, and published alongside the archived video.  This makes key points easy to replay and review.
  3. Video-based training becomes more targeted.  Training departments are able to provide improved access to training course inventory, because employees can easily discover relevant training resources, based on key-word searches, using their preferred device. 
  4. Media has more reach and more impact.  Organizations that have deployed media indexing solutions have improved recall in media search by up to 900%, helping users find content that would otherwise not be found.  Additionally, organizations experienced decreased search abandonment rates by 50%.
  5. Transcripts enable big data insights. Over time, the aggregation of transcribed recordings will enable big data insights, as organizations invest in advanced analytics systems.  Companies who take advantage of the rise of multimedia, social media, and media analytics will have a clear advantage, and will be able to derive intelligence for business results.

 

Come see some of these Polycom Video Content Management solutions in action at Enterprise Connect, Booth #1307. I also welcome you to leave comments and questions here!

Polycom Employee

Another year begins at Enterprise Connect and we are already off with a bang.  I just sat through the Cisco keynote where Rowan Trollope showcased their new collaboration line-up from the desktop to the boardroom. Reflecting on the presentation, I couldn't help but think how proud I am of Polycom: we are really ahead of the game. 

 

How, you ask?  Well, the highlights from Rowan's presentation included a new room system with a speaker tracking system. From the demo I saw, the functionality is just like the Polycom EagleEye Director that we have been shipping for about 2 years (watch the related video). Likewise, he controlled the video system with a new "proximity" application that bears remarkable resemblance to our own RealPresence SmartPairing technology (watch the related video). Other demos included an on-stage installation of their low-end video system, which did look like it was easy to set up.  Finally, he talked about accessing the video conference room from a Web browser, which, once again, reminded me of Polycom innovations such as RealPresence CloudAXIS, which connects a video room to anyone with a web cam and browser; we announced availability of CloudAXIS almost a year ago.

 

And, for those who missed it, we announced a slew of new innovations back in February including low-cost, subscription-based collaboration software (watch this great video), virtualized software editions of our platform, and a new room system for Microsoft Lync.

 

Overall, it feels great to be in a position where we have all of our products in market - long past the headaches of version one - and being adopted by customers in droves.  It's great to see that the collaboration space is growing and that Polycom is still leading the way.

 

If you’re at Enterprise Connect this year, please come by the booth. We’ll show you some of our latest solutions! This year we are featuring:

  • Virtualized, budget-friendly, subscription-based collaboration deployed on industry standard hardwar... 
  • Group Series video systems with a host of new features including virtual whiteboarding, SmartPairing, SVC and a few vertical market use-case demos.
  • Polycom VVX Business Media Phone lineup that works both on our industry-leading open SIP stack as well as Microsoft.
  • The recently announced CX8000 Microsoft Lync Room System with the unique 360-degree camera view.
  • Content solutions such as recording, streaming and text-to-speech apps.

boothEC.jpg

Our booth at Enterprise Connect this year.

 

What has caught your eye at Enterprise Connect this year? Or, if you're not at the event, let me know what's new outside of the expo walls!

Regular Collector

The top goal and biggest challenge for Human Resource executives in 2014 are one-and-the-same: quickly hire the best talent available to meet ever-changing business needs.

hr.jpg

 

As the global economy continues warming up, companies are doing more hiring, the labor force is growing, and the competition for the most talented employees is hotter than ever. Many say the race for talent will only get more intense over the next few years, and companies will have to reach every corner of the globe to find just the right people to join their ranks.

 

This puts tremendous pressure on HR leaders to quickly source and recruit people from a talent pool that, thanks to greater worldwide access to education and training and a growing middle class in developing economies, is now global. If you are an HR executive, you are probably asking yourself these questions:

 

  • How can I get access to a wider talent pool?
  • How can I reduce recruitment time in a very competitive hiring environment?
  • How can I improve time to productivity ?
  • How do I retain our top talent when other companies are aggressively hiring?
  • How do I improve employee engagement and motivate a dispersed organization?

 

We understand these challenges as well as anyone else, and have some ideas on how to answer those questions.

 

Polycom’s  3,800 employees span the globe, and we are constantly looking for the best ways to find the best people, hire them and motivate them as one global team.  One of the ways we do this is through our ability to connect and meet with candidates face-to-face using our own video collaboration tools. We have a dispersed HR team that can connect face-to-face, 24/7 to a global talent pool. Thanks to our own voice and video collaboration solutions – which run on mobile devices, on laptops, via the cloud and in conference rooms around the world – we can quickly meet candidates, conduct interviews, hold internal reviews and make hiring decisions without anyone having to get on a plane. We’ve also built our work around our solutions, which enables flexible working arrangements for virtually all of our employees. The video format also improves candidates’ perception of our company and allows them to really engage with their potential new manager in ways that increase the likelihood that they will join us.


Watch this video to learn more about how our HR team uses our own collaboration tools to defy distance, hire the best, and retain talent in a competitive global marketplace.

 

After a recent survey of HR leaders in 12 countries, we learned that we share these challenges and opportunities with other organizations, of all sizes.  That survey revealed some interesting findings; one of the most important being that these HR executives believe that video collaboration will be their most preferred method of business communication by 2016. Read more about the survey findings among HR professionals here, and click here to download a free eGuide loaded with tips on how to better collaborate across borders and around the world.

Polycom Employee

I started my SXSW blog posts about how the music fest still had its roots firmly grounded in its history of incredible performances.  This still holds true after the 2014 festival, but with a caveat.  There was definitely a larger corporate presence in Austin that started with an over-the-top SXSW Interactive fest that had turned about 75% of the the quaint downtown and East Austin businesses into corporate sponsored hot-spots, charging stations, network lounges and the like.  Seriously, how many places do I need to charge my phone and grab an energy drink? 

 

As for the music festival, corporate sponsors were everywhere sponsoring venues, shows and individual bands.  Some of the biggest sponsors brought in acts like Keith Urban, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga.  Ms. Gaga herself said that without her chip-making sponsor backing her and other performances here at SXSW, there would be no show.   I agree and totally get it.  It is outrageously expensive to put on a great, safe show.  At Polycom we do these amazing sponsorships with our equipment, so not only do we get to help out the producers of the events, we also get to utilize our solutions and technology.   

 

We averaged about 5,000 unique visitors each day of the music festival on our stream with viewers from all over the globe.  For our venue, that meant almost 20,000 new visitors to their webstore to shop for their favorite band's album or other cool merchandise.  For the bands, it meant their existing fans and hopefully some new fans were able to enjoy a great show.  That is what I love about streaming technology, the ability to bring the experience right to the person, no matter where they are.  Last week it was music, this week it could be a high-profile conference or a required training for my company.

 

I described some of the challenges in putting on quality live streams in a previous post, but as an update, I wanted to say that we had every techie's worst nightmare happen the last day of the show - RAIN!   The first show of the day had to be moved indoors, which was a bit of a bummer, because almost 1500 people were waiting in line to see The 1975 and the store could only hold about 350 people.  That being said, the band went above and beyond what most would do and played multiple performances so almost all the folks in line could see them perform live inside.  I have posted a picture of me actually filming one of the performances (I am the one holding the camera with the hat on with all the girls standing behind me). 

 

me_instore.JPG

 

It was an incredible experience at SXSW.  We delivered over 30 hours of amazing music live to people globally and now will be available on-demand for people to access at their convenience starting later this week.  I hope that in 2015, we will be able to do more streaming and add-in some other technology that will certainly bring me and other Polycomers sleepless nights!  I would have it no other way.

 

 

 

Polycom Employee

Note this PolycomTechie blog post has moved. For the latest from Polycom Techie, visit The View blog ( http://bit.ly/TheVIEW ) or connect with us on Twitter: @polycomtechie

Polycom Employee

We just finished day two of the SXSW Music 2014.  First let me say, the tragedy that happened in Austin last night was horrible and has deeply affected everyone associated with the music festival and all Austinites as well.  All of us at Polycom send our prayers to the families that were involved.

 

Let's talk about the quality of music that this festival has.  With over 1000 bands attending from all corners of the world, there is definitely something for everyone and the quality of the music is absolutely phenomenal.  I hope that you have been able to enjoy some of the live streams we are helping deliver at www.waterloorecords.com from 12 PM to 6:30 PM Central through Saturday.   

 

Today for instance, we had Aloe Blacc, A Great Big World and Mary Lambert starting the day off.  Aloe Blacc was possibly the best show I have ever seen in the years I have been attending SXSW.    Of course, these shows were all streamed out to the web in HD with Polycom equipment as part of the core.

 

Aloe Blacc

 

Streaming out a concert sounds easy enough...take a camera, plug it into your computer and point your browser to a service provider to stream it out.   However, when you are trying to provide an in-person experience to viewers at home, it takes a lot more than. 

 

Our setup here at SXSW includes 5 cameras, a Blackmagic Design ATEM 4k Mixer, Mackie audio mixer, Acer touch screen, PC, MAC, Tempest wireless communication system, audience microphone, wireless microphone system for the aftershow reporter and let's not forget the Polycom Capture Station Portable Pro system.  Setup of all this gear is not for the faint-at-heart with a mile worth of cable that stretches around the venue to get to the best vantage points and wireless mic repeaters so the  camera crew can hear me clearly.

 

I have been planning the setup for many months, tweaking the plan over and over again until I think it is just perfect.  However, let me say, 15 minutes before show-time yesterday one of my pieces of gear was not operating properly and at the last minute I had to change the plan that we had been working on for months and come up with a plan that would work.   What is funny is that part of my planning was to plan on equipment failure.  

 

The moral of this post is that stuff will happen when you are working with technology, but how you recover is going to be the difference between success and failure.  As the old adage goes, plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst.  

 

I do encourage you to join us for the stream at www.waterloorecords.com Friday and Saturday starting at Noon Central.  Even though the Capture Station was not designed specifically to capture, encode and record concerts, it is a flexible architecture that will allow you to do just about anything with it!

 

Capture Station Portable Pro backstage at SXSW.

 

 

 

 

Polycom Employee

Have you ever been asked or wondered: “Why does Polycom have so many conference phones and how do I find the right one for me?”  Well, there are a couple of very simple tools we have to make this easy. First, we have our conference phone selector tool.  It is a simple tool that asks a few targeted questions and helps you narrow down to just the right conference phone for your room and needs.  Looking for more of a side-by-side comparison between our phones?  No problem, just see our conference phone comparison tool to help you select the right tool for the job.

 

In the VoIP space, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked on a regular basis is: ”What VoIP platforms does Polycom work with?”  The answer to that one is simple.  Go here to the platform compatibility page to see a list of all the various IP PBX vendors we work with. 

 

And what if you are President Barak Obama?  What phone do you use?  Well then, the choice is obvious, get yourself the most reliable conference phone in the industry... a Soundstation2!

 

Obama SSIP - Picture1.png

Polycom Employee

I had the pleasure the other day to sit down and talk to one of our best Polycom partners and share with them all the great things going on in our voice business.  As part of the conversation they asked me to highlight some of the most valuable resources that are available on our website.  One of the things I realized is that while we have so much fantastic information, I’m just not sure people know what we have and where to find it.  So in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would share some of the true hidden gems scattered throughout our website.  Todays' topic - HD Voice

 

Who cares about HD audio conferencing?

Ever wondered just what all the fuss is about HD voice and why it’s so special?  Well look no further, here’s a webpage and video of our very own Jeff Rodman, Polycom’s co-founder, explaining why we created HD voice in the first place and why it’s the future of audio communications.  Also, don’t miss our examples of a call with and without HD voice on our HD voice page.

 

hd voice.jpg

 

Polycom Employee

An organization’s most valuable asset is knowledge. Keeping that knowledge shared securely with the correct, authenticated audiences, and configured for your network is the job of RealPresence Media Manager.

 

An Enterprise Video Content Management tool like Media Manager is very different from Online Video Providers like YouTube or BrightCove.  How are they different and what are the appropriate uses for each?  

 

RealPresence Media Manager

Online Video Provider
(YouTube, BrightCove)

Videos for authenticated audiences, like specific (or all) employees, students, or other group members.  Designed to share knowledge or information via LAN or WAN

 

Videos for unknown audiences.  Share with as many eyeballs as possible.  Designed to sell ad space.  Video Content is secondary.  Always over the public internet

Can be a live event, on-demand event or both.  Can be training/education, corporate communications, etc. 

 

Programming is either video advertising or entertainment.

 

Either programming to everyone (town hall address) or to  specific groups/teams,

 

Audience is random visitors, customers, prospects, analysts etc.

Full records of who saw what, when, and for how long.

Count of how many viewers

 

 

 
YouTube does a good job hosting videos of cats and other marketing videos.  YouTube's goal is to get enough eyeballs watching videos to fund the ads to enable that content to be played anywhere on the internet.
 
However, if you want to create and share information internally that's either live or on demand, YouTube is exactly the wrong tool.  Why?  The difference starts with the architecture of your corporate network. 

 

Most corporate networks have the most network capacity within each site, with smaller links between sites and then on to the public internet.  That's why things like file servers live in a data center or perhaps in each large site.  It's a way of keeping the data nearest the people who are using it.  All YouTube traffic (both content and ads) goes from the LAN out the internet. When you start deploying at scale, you end up with a bottleneck where requested video traffic comes back into your network and slows traffic for all users.  (Plus now you're showing advertisments to your busy employees).

 

cloud merge2.png

From a network perspective, this architecture actually looks like a denial of service (DOS) attack-- multiple people are making small requests for very big video files.  Like automotive traffic converging near a stadium parking lot before a football game, there's much more traffic entering your corporate network than your normal data traffic.  

 

In addition to the internal network problem, there's one that's just as critical -- privacy & access controls.  

 

 

For example, if you're working on a software development project, you may want to record a team project meeting.  Alternately, you may want to record your HR department's annual benefits enrollment message.  Or the CEO might want to brief the entire organization on financial results, streaming it live and taking questions!

 

network sketch.png

A proper Enterprise Video Content Management  system can not only integrate with your branding, your corporate directory and is designed to work  within your network topology. It also provides the appropriate permissions so that only people who've been authorized to view a specific piece of content can actually see that content.  And it does it without over taxing the network.  Minimizing the network choke points.   If the network supports Multicast, that's like a HOV lane for video -- people can carpool in the same video stream and reduce overall network traffic.  Multicast is never available from YouTube. 

 

Additionally, in an enterprise, you want to know  who watched something and not just how many  people.  For example, if you want to train a team on how to develop secure computer programs or learn about the newest products, just knowing that 28 people attended the training isn't as helpful as knowing which three people on the team still haven't attended yet. 

 

 

 

Ready to learn more about Polycom's RealPresence Media Manager?  Take a peek at some of our sample sites to see examples of customized look and feel to match organizations like Enterprises, Universities, or Hospitals

 

corp.PNG  edu.PNG  health.PNG

 

and then learn more at http://www.polycom.com/products-services/realpresence-platform/video-content-management.html 

 

 

 

 

Polycom Employee

In a star-studded event last evening in London, Polycom earned our latest award for the VVX portfolio from the Internet Telephony Service Provider Association.   This award recognizes Polycom for the Best VoIP CPE devices including the VVX600, VVX Camera Module and VVX Expansion modules.  Here's a snapshot of Polycom's own Chris Wortt, Director of EMEA ATG Sales, collecting the award.  Polycom noteably beat out Snom, Grandsteram, Gigaset Pro, and Sangoma for the win.  Congratulations to our entire Voice team and to our Service Provider partners for this well-deserved award!

 

photo1.jpg

Polycom Employee

 

I have been a long time attendee of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.  I have attended the interactive festival, but have really immersed myself in the music festival year after year.

 

SXSW interactive over the past few years has become a host of corporate parties and events where every venue in downtown Austin has been rented out to have some sort of a party or another.  It is fun to hop from party to party to hear and see what companies are claiming to be the “next big thing” or have a chance to try ”a killer app”.

 

The music festival still firmly has its roots where it did when it started.  It is all about music, from rock to jazz and from ska to punk.  You can see amazing free shows to the “you’ve gotta know someone” shows like Prince and Justin Timberlake in 2013 to Lady Gaga this year playing at Stubbs.  I was lucky enough to hear the Prince show, standing outside of La Zona Rosa, but was not on the inside.

 

As you probably know, Polycom has its own roots firmly in music and audio as well.  As we moved from having the world’s best speakerphone to the world’s fastest selling video conference devices, we have made sure audio is always better than our nearest competitor.  It is no surprise that Polycom is heavily involved in live music performances throughout the world.  South by Southwest is no different. 

 

This year, Polycom is proud to partner with KGSR radio in Austin to present their live broadcast from the W Hotel.  No wrist-band is needed to see the incredible bands, but a small donation is requested and goes to an amazing charity!  You can see the entire list of bands at www.kgsr.com/SXSW.  

 

A very exciting addition this year is Polycom is the equipment sponsor for the music stage at Waterloo Records.  Viewers from all over the world will be able to view a live stream of 7 ½ hours of music per day being encoded and captured by the Polycom Capture Station Portable Pro.  Check out the line-up of bands at www.waterloorecords.com and get ready to rock your socks off!

 

If you are going to be at SXSW, stop by Waterloo Records backstage to say hi.  I am the guy directing the web stream. If you are not here locally, go to www.waterloorecords.com during our live broadcast and check things out.

 

We’ll be posting updates during the music festival so stay-tuned!

Polycom Employee

Note this PolycomTechie blog post has moved. For the latest from Polycom Techie, visit The View blog ( http://bit.ly/TheVIEW ) or connect with us on Twitter: @polycomtechie

Polycom Employee

Note this PolycomTechie blog post has moved. For the latest from Polycom Techie, visit The View blog ( http://bit.ly/TheVIEW ) or connect with us on Twitter: @polycomtechie

Polycom Employee

Yesterday I read “Surviving a Conference Call,” an article in the Wall Street Journal that provided suggestions on how to fix some of your conferencing challenges.

 

Yes, we can all agree that some negative aspects of conference calls are due to basic human nature (people not paying attention, interrupting, etc.) and many of these I chalk up to people just not knowing proper etiquette for a meeting. Why should conference call etiquette be any different from an in person meeting? I don’t generally eat potato chips when meeting in person or over the phone. *Sigh* - there are some things that technology is just never going to fix. Those problems remind me of the comedian Ron White’s catchphrase: “You can’t fix stupid.”

 

So what can be done to help alleviate, if not eliminate, some of these issues?  Since Polycom practically invented the conference phone more than 20 years ago, I wanted to share three important points based on what we’ve learned along the way.

           

conf.png

 

  • Echo in your ear? If you use a poor-quality desk phone with an inadequate speaker or take a call in a room with bad acoustics, you’ll likely get an annoying echo to your call. Like this guy.  This is a key reason why we’ve built-in echo cancellation so you can expect high-quality audio no matter where you are. 
  • Awkw--ard—Breaks--in-Y-ou-r-Con---versation?  Other issues poor-quality devices can lead to include interrupted audio breaks in conversation or people not being heard clearly anywhere in the conference room. This makes communication almost impossible, as humorously demonstrated in this video.  Once again, Polycom’s unique design incorporating three directional microphones with one large speaker in the middle ensures everyone in the room can hear and be heard no matter where they are located or what they are saying.
  • Did you say, ‘We have a meeting on Sunday’? No, I said, ‘Have a fun day!’ For standard-definition (narrowband) audio calls, there are many times where certain words sound similar to one another, especially when coming from individuals from far reaches of the globe with different accents. (Check out this other humorous video.) Some sound nuances, such as the difference between ‘f’ and ‘s’ or ‘c’ and ‘d,’ are virtually undetectable to the human ear if you have limitations with your audio stream. However, if you have HD Voice (wideband) technology for your conference calls, then you’ll get more than twice the clarity of ordinary phone calls.

 

Want more tips and hints on how to the most out of any meeting?

>>Check out our latest Collaboration eGuide that provides simple tips on how to make international meetings more productive.

>>See this blog post on Wired.com, posted by our co-founder Jeffrey Rodman, about how to get great audio in a video call.

 

The bottom line is, while we’re never going to be able to change human nature (or eliminate the gene that causes us to eat potato chips on the phone), we can help make voice and video more natural and productive.  If you use the right technology, we can make some of your conference call headaches go away.

 

What do you think? What are you conference call headaches? Leave a comment below.

Polycom Employee
Frequent Visitor

 This page (http://www.polycom.com/security) provides security information like  FAQs, Polycom's UC Security Best Practice document as well as a link to the Polycom Security Center, where security advisories are posted.  There are also links to government certifications, for example FIPS 140 certificates for Polycom products.

 

There's also a form there that allows you to report a security problem that you've found in a Polycom product.

Polycom Employee

If you've deployed Polycom RealPresence Resource Manager (RPRM) including Polycom RealPresence Video DualManager 400 (VDM), then please take a moment and read Security Bulletin 5471: Security Advisory Relating to JBoss Application Server on RealPresence Resou....  

 

The underlying issue is that the internal JBoss Application Server is vulnerable to remote command execution via the ‘HTTP Invoker’ service that provides Remote Method Invocation (RMI over HTTP). Access to the URLs ‘/invoker/EJBInvokerServlet’or ‘/invoker/JMXInvokerServlet’ with detached invoker operation via an HTTP POST request can be used to deploy a malicious remote Web Application Archive. 

 

What does this mean?  If you use RPRM version 7.x up through and including the just released 8.1.0 then please read the security bulletin and contact Polycom Support for a patch. 

 

In general, all security bulletins are available at the Polycom Security Center.  They are also available via RSS Feed

Polycom Employee

With two decades of innovation and over 800 technology patents that underline our mission to push the greatness of human collaboration forward, Polycom creates amazing solutions and innovative user experiences.  Polycom helps millions around the world solve complex problems, generate new ideas, gain deeper understanding, offer assistance, protect the planet, and save lives.

 

How we do it is tied to some of Polycom's audio innovations: 

 

  1. Acoustic Echo Cancellation (full duplex speakerphones, yet no echo)
  2. True Stereo audio (VSX, HDX, Group Series, Sound Structure)
  3. Live Music mode (Superior audio for music instruction)
  4. Selective Mixing (on RMX bridge, eliminates unwanted background noise)
  5. Clink2 (Easy plug/play attachment of audio peripherals, daisy chaining, connects speakerphone to videoconference system and more)
  6. Desktop and ceiling microphone arrays (Easy plug/play microphones with auto configuration )
  7. Keyboard Noise Reduction (Stops keyboard noises from transferring to audio and video systems)
  8. Siren LPR (maintains high quality audio under poor network conditions of up to 80% packet loss)
  9. EagleEye Director (emulates professional video production techniques in group meetings) 
  10. CD-quality audio on Desktop and Mobile clients 
Polycom Employee

Part 1 demonstrated one of many ways where firewalls break video.  Parts 2, 3, & 4 showed some sample solutions.  Now the question remains, how to choose the right solution(s) for your organization. Most importantly, there's no replacement for advise that's specific to your company's needs, network architecture, and plans.  Work with your Polycom Partner or Polycom Systems Engineer--we're happy to design the solution that is right for you. 

 

 

Generally, if you envision the need to support SIP, Polycom CloudAXIS, Polycom RealPresence Mobile on Apple or Android devices, or Polycom RealPresence Desktop outside your organization (e.g.. remote workers) choose Polycom RealPresence Access Director (RPAD). 

 

If you are a large enterprise that has an existing SBC like an Acme Packet Net-Net firewall, use your existing SBC for supporting B2B or B2C calls.  Consider an additional Polycom RealPresence Access Director to support Polycom CloudAXIS and remote provisioning of video endpoints, if needed. 

 

if you are an organization that has standardized on H.323, or one with many smaller remote offices, the ability of the Polycom Video Border Proxy to scale up and down to a small size makes that choice worth considering.

 

 

 

Feature:

Polycom RealPresence Access Director (RPAD)

Polycom Video Border Proxy (VBP)

Other SBC

Support for Polycom CloudAXIS

Yes

No

No

SIP B2B Calling

Yes

No

Typically Yes

SIP Guest Users (Unregistered/Unprovisioned Endpoints)

Yes

No

Typically Yes

SIP Remote Users (Registered/ Provisioned Endpoints)

Yes

No

Unlikely

H.323 B2B Calling

Yes

Yes – VBP E

Varies

H.323 Guest Users (Unregistered/Unprovisioned Endpoints)

Yes

Yes – VBP E

Varies

H.323 Remote Users (Registered/ Provisioned Endpoints)

Yes

Yes- VBP ST

No

Secure

Yes

Yes

Typically Yes

License Model

25 – 1,000 concurrent calls

1-85 MBs of video/voice call throughput

Up to 80,000 concurrent calls or more

 

 

Polycom Employee

A customer asked, why does their network monitoring software report a device from ViaVideo Communications when it's a Polycom device?  Is something wrong?  Was it hacked? 

  

Nothing's wrong!  To understand, you do need to understand what the monitoring software is doing and a little bit about how ethernet works. 

 

Background

When you acquire any device that has either a wired or wireless network interface, that interface has a MAC address--an unique identifier from the manufacturer that others device on the local network can use to communicate with that device.   It's layer 2 of of the OSI model.   These MAC addresses are hard coded into the network interfaces.1   They're made of two parts, a part that identifies the manufacturer, and then second part that's unique within a the manufacturer's. 

 

The IEEE Registration Authority (IEEE-RA) administers the assignment of 24-bit identifiers, formally known as an "Organizationally Unique Identifier" (OUI) that identifies the manufacturer.  

 

What your network monitoring tool may be doing is taking the unique OUI, looking it up against the original IEEE-RA database and then reporting the company name that was assigned that OUI. 

 

Polycom has made several acquisitions since 1998, including: 

January 1998 ViaVideo appliance-based video communications systems  
February 2001 Accord Networks provider of MCUs  
April 2001 Circa Communications IP telephony products  
October 2001 PictureTel PC-based video communications systems  
December 2001 ASPI Digital installed voice systems  
January 2004 Voyant Technologies voice conferencing and collaboration network solutions  
August 2005 DST Media China-based video networking company  
March 2007 SpectraLink and KIRK telecom workplace wireless telephony (since divested)  

Here's the root of the problem:  Not all the OUIs have been updated with IEEE-RA to change from "ViaVideo" or "Accord Networks" to reflect Polycom's ownership. 

 

In this case, the network monitoring tool is querying the MAC address of a device, parsing out the OUI, looking up the OUI in the IEEE database and returning what it sees.    It's reporting "ViaVideo" becuase that's what the IEEE database says.  There's nothing wrong with your equiment, just some old data.

 

Unfortunately, this is actually common.  A Google Chromecast report as from Azurewave Technologies, notebook computers might show as Intel (they have some very common chipsets), Wistron InfoComm (Kunshan)Co for Lenovo, Hon Hai Precision for Dell, etc. 

 

Bad news is that the tool's only reporting what it knows.  The good news is that it's expected behavior and nothing is wrong.  If anyone asks, everything is working properly, just reporting old news. 

 

 

1-- While MAC Addresses are hard coded, many devices let you override the default MAC Address in software.   Why you might want to do this is well beyond the scope of this discussion.

 

Polycom Employee

Polycom is not the only organization to realize that firewalls break video collaboration.  As described in Part 1 firewalls break video conferencing calls because they intentionally hide the inside part of the network.  Part 2 described how Polycom's Real Presence Access Director solves this problem and Part 3 described how Polycom's Video Border Proxies solved this problem.  

 

However, many organizations, especially larger enterprises, government agencies, and educational organizations already have a solution for firewall traversal for video (and voice) communication.  One of the leading solutions in this space is Acme Packet (which was acquired by Oracle in February 2013).

 

Polycom has specifically tested with Acme Packet, have created a deployment guide for Acme Packet, and support Acme Packet.  If you use a different SBC it is generally possible to configure it to work with video systems.   Contact the SBC vendor for support and design direction. 

 

With Acme Packet, There are two different deployment models: Parallel to the Firewall or Inside the DMZ.  

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Parallel to the firewall (above) is the preferred architecture, it is simpler to deploy, simpler to maintain, and equally as secure.  In some organizations, the security requirement is to put the SBC in the DMZ.  Inside the DMZ (below) can leverage the security from the corporate firewall, but will also put additional load on this firewall because all media and SIP signaling will go through it and this also increases latency.   Contact Acme Packet, or your SBC vendor to fully weigh the benefits and costs for each solution. 

 

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In either of the above architectures, you can support the main SBC use cases: 

  • Connect remote (authenticated) users to the enterprise
  • Connect guest users to the enterprise (unauthenticated)
  • Connect remote, trusted division or connect two different enterprises.

Installing a SBC typically requires coordination between multiple groups within an IT team including the DNS administrators, security certificate administrators, and firewall teams.  Not coordinating before these groups before attempting an installation often leads to preventable implementation delays.

 

 

With this background, we can finally get to part 5, choosing the correct firewall traversal solution. 

Polycom Employee

Part 1 explained why firewalls break video conferencing calls.  Part 2 described how Polycom's Real Presence Access Director solves this problem.  In Part 3, we review the Polycom Video Border Proxy.  How does it work?    Which models of Video Border Proxy do you need? 

 

There are two flavors of VBP: E and ST. 

 

VBP E Series solutions enable and enhance secure access to video collaboration (and ONLY video collaboration!) from your company's network. It allows external calls to/from partners and customers who are not part of an organization’s video network.  VBP E Series solutions provide versatile networking and security solutions and are based on open standards, which help protect your communication investments.  (Think E for External calling) 

 

VBP ST Series solutions enable your virtual workforce to benefit from seamless, secure, remote access to video collaboration.  Easy to use and manage, the ST solutions provide access to every remote user within your company who needs to securely collaborate.  It also delivers versatile networking and security solutions that help you protect your communication investments.  (Think ST for Secure Traversal for your employees)

 

Which do you need?  Likely both.  If you want to be able to call people outside your organization, you need an VBP E.  If you want to allow your remote workers to be part of your video network, you need a ST.  The majority of organizations get one of each. 

 

What do the VBPs do? 

They are formal, packet-inspection firewalls in combination with an application-layer gateway. They fix the problem showin in Part 1 where they ensure H.323 video devices can communicate through the firewall. 

 

So what does it really do? 

 

The video network inside an organization is like a private video phone system -- like a PBX.  It allows internally connected video devices (or phones) to communicate using the internal network.   The VBP E connects the private video network to the rest of the world, in the same way you can connect the PBX to the PSTN network.   The VBP ST connects remote company-owned phones or video devices to the company's network just as if they were internal. 

vbp E.PNG

How do I size VBPs? 

 

VBPs come in three hardware models based on the amount of bandwidth they support.

 

  • VBP 200    - 1 Mbps video traffic (for SOHO users)   -VBP E model only
  • VBP 4555 - 3 Mbps video traffic (for SOHO or Small/Remote Offices) - VBP E model only
  • VBP 5300 - 10 - 85 Mbps video traffic (licensable for the speed necessary, for most organizational uses) - Both VBP E and ST

 

Note the VBPs make an excellent stand alone firewall, and can handle data traffic greatly in excess of  the licensed video speed.  

 

 

To learn more about the VBPs, see the whitepapers: 

 

or the product page. 

 

Next up:   Part 4 - Other SBCs (including Acme Packet)

Polycom Employee

This week, Polycom is demonstrating integration with IBM's Patient Care and Insight (IPCI) application at the IOD Conference in Las Vegas. We are demonstrating how healthcare practitioners can use video collaboration to share, review and discuss patient information remotely and securely. The demonstration is integrating video calls inside their browser from the application they're already using.

 

Why is this important? Aside from improving the quality of patient care and reducing costs, this is the first example of productized integration of Polycom's open APIs into an existing web application. What are we doing with IPCI and what does this mean for the future...? (Hint: You could build this integration yourself!)

 

 

Just as a reminder, back in October 2012, Polycom announced Polycom RealPresence CloudAxis and our strategy around making our open APIs available to integrate into other applications. This integration with IPCI is the first (of many) examples of how Polycom (or a developer) is integrating video into a web application. Whether it's using Polycom's CloudAXIS and the RealPresence Platform, or some smaller set of components, this integration shows what's possible.

 

 

With IPCI, Polycom has made it simple to have doctors (or nurses, care coordinators or other health professionals) connect with patients over audio and video collaboration. The integration of CloudAXIS and IPCI adds a "meet now" button together with a scheduling system integration to allow appointments to be scheduled with voice and video. This is great for mobility challenged patients, the elderly, etc. and can bring together the entire care team (including remote family members) via point-to-point or multipoint video calls using PCs, mobile device or any other standards based endpoint. All from a context aware "Meet Now" button.

 

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IPCI, is all about analytics. It uses the IBM Watson engine (yes,the one from Jeopardy) and calculates if someone is likely to need to be admitted or readmitted to the hospital. The tool helps care coordinators identify people who are more likely to get sick before they're actually sick. Alternatively, it identifies what things people who are sick can do to get better faster and keep them out of the hospital.

 

For a simple example, the analytics engine can look at my last several exams and see that my blood pressure has gone up 3-5 points per year over the last few years. It knows that if that trend continues I'll have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to aneurysm, coronary artery disease, kidney failure and stroke, etc. With the analytics engine's prompting (and the doctors good judgment) they could assign me recorded video training that will help me identify hidden salt in my diet (to help lower my blood pressure) or to encourage me to exercise, etc. These videos are integrated into IPCI and hosted on Polycom RealPresence Media Manager and linked back into the analytics engine so it knows if a video was actually played by the patient. Watched or not, the care team can take appropriate actions based on how I'm doing as a patient.

 

With a goal to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, IPCI, together with Polycom's integration just could be the next big thing in healthcare. Learn more about IPCI and Polycom's integration. Stop by IBM IOD through November 7th and see a live demo.

 

Interested in video enabling your own application? Learn more about the Polycom Developer Program.

Polycom Employee

ae-natarajan.jpgGuest blog post by A.E. Natarajan, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Engineering at Polycom:

 

Polycom has been and always will be a leader and strong advocate for open standards in the UC industry. We are a founding member of the OVCC, and continually drive for open standards with other companies across the industry.  One year ago this month, Polycom licensed the first open standards-based SVC implementation royalty free to the industry, including the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCI Forum), to ensure adoption and industry-wide interoperability. Around the same time, industry analyst firm Forrester Research gave Polycom top scores in, among other areas, our strategy, largely because of our product roadmap and particular strengths in the categories of “UC integration” and interoperability.

 

Polycom applauds Cisco for taking similar steps today in making the H.264 codec freely available.  We believe that this will help ensure industry interoperability between new technologies, such as WebRTC, and existing video codecs and signaling, which is critical to protecting customer investments and broadening adoption and usage of video. Continuing with H.264, and eventually H.265, as the standard versions of video codecs is in the best interest of users of real-time and streamed video, the vendor ecosystem that serves them, and our industry. 

Polycom Employee

Part 1 explained why firewalls break video conferencing calls.   This Polycom's Real Presence Access Director provides scalable and secure firewall traversal solution that enables seamless video collaboration across business-to-business and intra-company networks for H.323 and SIP devices, including new Polycom SVC solutions.  How does it work?  

 

The RealPresence Access Director (RPAD) system is a software based edge server that securely routes communications, management and content through firewalls without requiring additional client hardware or software--it securely fixes what your firewall would otherwise be stopped. 

 

It lets your IT team enable employees to securely and transparently access video services and collaborate with colleagues and customers as if they were inside the network.  It opens up secure connections to RealPresence Distributed Media Appliance (DMA) and RealPresence Resource Manager.   In the same way your corporate phone system is connected the public telephone network, the RPAD securely connects your internal video network to the ouside world--calls (and only calls and related traffic) can go from inside to outside, and the reverse.  There is no need for dedicated VPN for this traffic. 

 

rpad arch.PNG

 

Much in the same way a data firewall looks at web and mail traffic, the RPAD is a specially designed firewall that looks at the voice, video and related traffic passing through the firewall and determines whether it's safe. 

 

There are three main deployment scenarios depending on your firewall configuration, security needs, and preferences.  

 

rpad deployments.PNG

 

For a full description of each deployment method, see Appendix B of the RealPresence Access Director system Administrator's Guide.  For the full list of ports required, by deploment method, see Appendix A of the same document. 

 

RPAD is licensed by the number of concurrent calls that are supported, from 25 to 1000 per unit.  It supports both H.323 and SIP signalling, as well as secure support for H.264 AVC and SVC media traffic.

 

 

For more information, see the product page and the support page

Polycom Employee

IP video conferencing can provide businesses substantial communications efficiencies and cost savings. However, IP video conferencing is has traditionally only worked between businesses that have similarly configured video conferencing equipment and firewall rules.  The good news, is this is no longer true.  So, why do firewalls break video and what to do about it? 

  

The biggest difficulty to IP video conferencing is Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT is a popular method for allowing a one-to-many relationship of IP addresses in a corporate network. NAT keeps track of requests from machines inside a network to machines outside the network. To the outside world, all requests appear to come from one IP address, the public address. As information comes back, NAT handles the magical translation from the one public facing address back into the internal addressing scheme.

 

NAT was designed before business to business (B2B) video conferencing over the internet became possible.  NAT was developed in a way that the NAT device was responsible for translating traffic from the internal, private address space to the external space. By performing the translation at the border to the public network, one address can be used for a multitude of machines.

Security gurus also like NAT because it hides the footprint of the network inside the firewall -- the network endpoints are obscured.  Another security consideration is that since the connection to the endpoint must be initiated from inside the network and cannot come from the outside, it is impossible to connect into the network uninvited. This security provided by NAT causes a headache for videoconferencing over IP.

 

Why is it a headache?  NAT firewalls typically look at Layer 3 and Layer 4 (of the OSI model)  That's where they need to do their magic.  However, video calls also includes information in layer 5 that tell the receiving system how to connect back to the originating system.   NAT firewalls fix the layer 3 and 4 addresses, but typically don't understand the information at layer 5.  This means the return connection doesn't make it back to the originating system.  From a user's perspective, the call just doesn't work. 

 

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The solution is to use a firewall that is truly video aware.    

 

See Polycom Firewall Traversal & Security page or Part 2, 3, and 4, of this blog, which describe specific solutions to these problems: 

  Part 2 - Polycom Real Presence Access Director

  Part 3 - Polycom Video Border Proxy

  Part 4 - Other SBCs (including Acme Packet)

  Part 5 - Choosing the correct SBC

Polycom Employee

Often we see customers in a state of transition.  They're moving from one UC platform to another.  They ask, if I make a decision now, what impact will that have on my future plans?  Fortunately, that's one of the strongest benefits of Polycom's native integration into our strategic partners.  We don't use proprietary gateways!

 

 From a telephony side, your Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Broadsoft, or other IP PBX will typically connect into Polycom's Virtualization Manager--DMA 7000 via a trunk to the PBX.  We set up dial rules on the DMA 7000 and PBX to pass calls between the environments.

 

On the Microsoft or IBM side, there can be multiple points of interconnection.  Calendar integration would typically integrate integrate with the mail server (e.g. Exchange or Notes).   IM/Chat/Presence and actual voice/video call integration will come from that environment and integrate with DMA and/or the RMX depending on specific requirements.   There's no additional licensing.  There's no additional hardware.  It's just configuration in the core of your voice and video environment. 

 

Transitions from one environment to another are simple (and likely the two environments can co-exist well with each other so there's no need for a hard cut-over).   

 

 

 

polycom and microsoft or ibm it doesnt matter.png

 

Are there differences in how Microsoft and IBM integrate with Polycom?  Absolutely!  Primarily because Polycom has worked hard to integrate into each environment the way our partner's environment is designed to work.  Because Microsoft and IBM have different visions, Microsoft Lync is a PBX.  IBM Sametime is not.  We work natively leveraging the specific environment's workflow.

 

See http://www.polycom.com/partners/become-a-partner/strategic-alliances.html  to learn more about specific integrations.