Juniper, Polycom team up for telepresence

Another alliance in response to Cisco/Tandberg?

Juniper and Polycom this week announced an alliance to offer telepresence and video conferencing services to enterprises through service providers.

The two companies have integrated their respective network resource control and video call control platforms to enable dynamic signaling between the two. Together, they say they can enable Juniper service provider customers to offer managed telepresence and video conferencing services to enterprises.

The deal represents the latest partnership Polycom has fostered with a large vendor following Cisco's acquisition of Polycom rival Tandberg. Last week, Polycom lined up Siemens Enterprise Networks as an ally, and IBM a few weeks previous.

The alliances are viewed by observers as a response by both Polycom and these vendors to the Cisco/Tandberg marriage and to the expected explosion in demand for video as a key component of unified communications deployments among businesses.

"I still think Cisco has an advantage," says Zeus Kerravala of the Yankee Group, noting the company's market share and three-year focus on video/telepresence. "If you own [the network] end-to-end you can control the quality end-to-end -- you don't have to wait for standards to be developed, you just go do it yourself."

A multivendor system interoperable through standards may not improve video/telepresence quality either, Kerravala notes, because of other nuances with the different vendors' systems in the way they treat video traffic.

Citing data from Gartner and Frost and Sullivan, Juniper and Polycom say the global market for visual communication managed services will grow from $83 million to $940 million between 2008 and 2015, a 162% compounded annual rate. Visual communications products and services is projected to reach $8.6 billion in 2013, they say, a CAGR of 17.8% from 2008.

The integrated Juniper/Polycom products will be available to service providers in mid-2010. At that time, the companies will disclose packaging and pricing options, officials from both companies say. The joint offering will facilitate a "conferencing-aware" network for service providers rather than a video/telepresence overlay to networks not necessarily optimized for video, the companies say.

Juniper says it may also offer Polycom-based video/telepresence to enterprises through other channel partners in the future.

The combined system includes Juniper's Junos Space network application platform and its subscriber policy and identity services, MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers, announced last fall, and SRX Series Services Gateways; and Polycom's portfolio of telepresence and visual communication products, including the Distributed Media Application that centralizes call control.

The combination of Junos Space with DMA enables a dynamic coordinated allocation of video and network resources, driven by user video session needs, the companies say.

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