"Value is not in group video systems," said Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research. "Value is in the infrastructure, integration with entire directory systems, automation." Because Polycom's CloudAXIS takes videoconferencing to non-Polycom platforms, then, partners are able to make good on the value proposition. Polycom's release "empowers scale, and scale is where we're going," Weinstein said. "It's bringing conferencing to the people."
To that point, Polycom also has debuted the RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s, Virtual Edition, which hosts CloudAXIS' capabilities. The company further developed a firewall traversal box, and less-expensive endpoints that accompany the new server and software; those cost about $3,000.
"This has been a big ask from customers and channel partners," so smaller users may take advantage of enterprise-quality video conferencing, said Jim Kruger, Polycom's senior vice president of global solutions marketing.
The challenge for partners will be bringing it all together. If you haven't moved past the old-school A/V integration business model, offering Polycom cloud services to customers will prove tough.
"The growing market for video communications and services spells opportunity for channel partners who can offer installation, integration, configuration and maintenance services," said Henry Dewing, principal analyst at Forrester Research. And while Polycom's CloudAXIS suite supports open standards, "there is still a lot of technical competence needed to connect disparate video infrastructure ... and integrate video into business applications and processes," Dewing said.
With that in mind, Polycom is requiring training on CloudAXIS. If you're already certified on RealPresence, this will complement, not replace or necessitate a re-do of, that designation. Polycom will build CloudAXIS training into its certifications for the future. In terms of compensation, partners will buy CloudAXIS products at a discount off MSRP, with more discounts applied to larger volumes. Polycom also is offering incentives for deal registration.
What's key is that CloudAXIS gives Polycom partners new reach into the cloud world. However, there's a catch.
"This is an opportunity, but you have to be IT- and IP-savvy to take advantage of it," Weinstein said. "If the channel partner ... lives and breathes around BNC [Bayonet Neill–Concelman] connectors, they're not there yet."