BT, Polycom Partner on UC

Partnering to deliver a more holistic unified-communications system, BT and Polycom said at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 that they will deliver an end-to-end, enterprise-grade service built around the MS Office Communications Server. The solution will combine BTs UC Ready offering, which includes telecom and IT services, with Polycoms new line of IP phones, known as the CX series.

This holistic set of UC products and services delivers integrated application, network and system interoperability, the companies said in a statement, combined with flexible options including architectures which can be deployed in traditional on-premise, managed service and cloud scenarios.

Translation: Polycom and BT are attempting to package a relatively straightforward set of UC services in such a way that enterprises can use them in hosted, managed, or customer-premises settings.

The BT relationship marks the latest in a series of ambitious hookups for Polycom, which, since Cisco said last fall it would acquire rival videoconferencing provider TANDBERG, has faced a dominant player in its core business. Like others in the videoconferencing sector, Polycom is scrambling to devise a strategy to promote interoperability with the Cisco lines and to carve out a sustainable niche in the market that includes its IP deskphones, its videoconferencing and telepresence systems, and its unified communications offerings. The partnership with BT gives it a powerful carrier partner and could presage links to other big carriers who do not wish to be locked into a Cisco-only universe.

In the last year, Polycom has announced a series of partnerships with companies including IBM, Avaya, Juniper Networks Inc., Siemens Enterprise Communications, and BroadSoft. Native integration with Microsoft OCS gives Polycom an important window into the vast majority of enterprise desktops.

Offering HD voice capabilities to business users, Polycoms new CX line incluldes two network-based IP desktop phones, the CX500 and CX600, as well as the industry’s first IP conference phone designed for the latest version of OCS, the CX3000.

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