Thursday, January 20, 2011

Polycom's Solution is not just for Polycom Video

Congratulations to Polycom for winning the Enhancing Business Value through UC2™ Solutions this year!  Their solution is a great way to extend the value of videoconferencing solutions that would otherwise be siloed.  Historically, many companies invested in high-quality room-based video conferencing systems.  The down side to these systems had been their cost and the fact that they required another similar end point to function, typically put in another conference room.

Polycom's solution allows you to leverage the video streams from a variety of sources now directly from Sametime.

These can be a mix of desktop or laptop webcams, Polycom videoconferencing end points, AND any other standards-compliant video endpoints.  This is important, because if you've invested in room-based systems from other vendors (say Tandberg or Sony) who have not created their own direct integration with Samtime, you can still use Polycom's solution to integrate those systems with Sametime.

With Polycom's solution in place, you get true multicast video.  The native video in Sametime leverages voice activated switching so that I only see the video of the currently active speaker, even if there are 10 people participating in the video chat.

With Polycom's solution, the video feeds from all participants are displayed simultaneously.  This allows you to take in what is happening at the other locations, regardless of who happens to be speaking at the time.

For example, let's say you typically bring together board members into conference rooms at different offices where they then participate in the video conference.  That involves some significant travel for some, and for those that can't get to those locations and have only the conference call to listen in to, their participation is significantly reduced.  By adding Polycom's solution, board members at distant locations or those that are in the midst of other travel can still participate in the video conference by connecting in with their Sametime video from their desktops or laptops.

This is another great complimentary solution to the video capabilities in Sametime.  So if you have room-based systems, and you're finally deploying video for Sametime, it is definitely worth looking more closely at Polycom's solution.  For a small investment, you increase the utility of both the Sametime video and the room-based systems.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plantronics Sounds for Sametime Program (and a Sneak Peak)

The push for personal video conferencing in the enterprise is clearly going to intensify in 2011. Skype has been leveraged by families globally to keep in touch with relatives, and now this level of personal communication has jumped from the desktop to mobile devices such as iPhones and Android phones as well.    As with so many other technologies, as they take off with consumers at home, the clamor to have these tools at work intensifies.

For organizations that may have leveraged Sametime only for instant messaging in the past, now is the time to get ahead of the end-user clamor and begin piloting Sametime audio and video conferencing.  With the introduction of Sametime 8.5, Sametime is now able to provide even high definition video for participants (if you have the bandwidth).  But exciting video with poor quality audio is like Kung Fu Theater without the Kung Fu, so having a quality audio end-point makes a huge difference in user satisfaction. 

That's where having quality headsets like those developed by Plantronics comes in, and your organization can try them out for free as part of a Sametime pilot by registering for their Sounds for Sametime program. 

Plantronics makes a wide variety of headsets to fit different user needs.  For those on a tight budget, you can use one of their corded headsets.  For mobile professionals, they offer the Voyager Pro.  It's a bluetooth headset that will pair with your PC as well as your mobile device, making it easy to receive calls on your mobile, or have it automatically switch to your PC when receiving a Sametime call.  This is what I use, but one of the things that has always been a slight annoyance is the bluetooth USB dongle hanging off the side of my laptop that I'm always paranoid is going to get snapped off.  In 2011, this is being enhanced to leverage a miniature dongle which is very slick.  I have a similar usb dongle for my wireless mouse, and I leave it attached even when I throw my laptop into my travel bag.

 For users who are switching between a desk phone and computer audio, their Savi offering is a great fit allowing users to easily toggle between them.  In 2011, they will be adding the ability for these users to toggle with their mobile devices as well--a great addition since many desktop users will leverage all three communication channels in the office.

For home-office workers, Plantronics offers the Calisto speakerphone.  No need to wear a headset at all when you have a speakerphone attached to your PC.  A great enhancement to this in 2011 will be the ability to pair this with a mobile device as well, and the option to use a lapel mic.

You can see more info on their 2011 product preview on Plantronics' site.  Of course these headsets all work well with the softphone in Sametime Unified Telephony as well.  What I love about these offerings, is that where we depend on Sametime to unify communications at the software level, the Plantronics headsets extend that to the hardware end points, making it that much easier to use the multiple communication devices we juggle. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

CDW Customer Reception at Lotusphere

CDW is excited to once again be hosting a customer reception at Lotusphere.  If you are a CDW customer and have not received an invitation, please ask your account manager for one, or email me at  I look forward to seeing everyone down in Orlando once again, and to another fantastic conference!

Now Hiring

If you are an experienced Lotus software professional in the United States, CDW is now hiring and we'd love for you to apply online.  Strong experience in Sametime and telephony is a big plus.

Apply Online at