Polycom Review: All the Hardware You Need to Complete Your Skype for Business Deployment

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Polycom Review: All the Hardware You Need to Complete Your Skype for Business Deployment

Skype for Business is a comprehensive enterprise class UC platform. But in terms of user interface, it is essentially a softphone. That is, all of its functions and features are accessed via an app for your desktop PC, laptop or mobile device. Or, in the case of Skype for Business Online, via a browser-based app.

Softphones are great for aligning UC with the rest of your workflow, so you can make calls and collaborate from the same places you work from. They are great for mobility and flexibility, as they mean you can communicate from lots of different devices wherever you happen to be.

Yet they also have their drawbacks. Take quality of voice and video communication, for example. Your laptop or your smartphone are not devices built specifically for high capacity conferencing. How good are the speakers on your laptop, and how does that affect call quality? The same applies to the microphone or embedded camera, and the speed and definition of video processing.

Softphone applications like Skype for Business can be very handy tools. But in order to guarantee quality of communications in the workplace, many businesses still opt for dedicated hardware endpoints for their audio, video and collaboration platforms.

Polycom solutions for Microsoft UC environments

Polycom offers a range of products which provide plug-in compatibility with Skype for Business.

Polycom is one of the biggest vendors of telecoms hardware in the world, and the biggest manufacturer of video conferencing equipment. As part of its portfolio, it offers the broadest available range of products with plug-in compatibility with Skype for Business.

Comprising desktop, huddle and conference room solutions, Polycom’s aim is to make full use of Skype for Business’ unified interface for all communications, while supplying equipment that guarantees robust, enterprise quality in all circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at the products it offers and what they offer Skype for Business users.

What can it do?

Unlike other Skype for Business compatibility solutions, Polycom does not use any kind of gateway to connect its endpoints. Each product plugs into Skype for Business directly, lowering overall costs.

Polycom’s Skype for Business compatible portfolio falls into three categories – voice, video conferencing and collaboration.

Voice solutions are in turn divided into three different ranges:col

  • Deskphones: The Polycom VVX series is the first third-party deskphone brand to support the Office 365 Cloud PBX and associated PSTN Calling, which means Skype for Business Online users can connect a telephone endpoint.
  • Conference phones: Polycom is a recognised market leader in conferencing technology, including a number of high performance speaker phones which offer superb voice clarity and microphone pick up in meeting room environments. The Polycom RealPresence Trio is an affordable conference phone for smaller meeting spaces that plugs directly into Skype for Business and can also come with video capabilities.
  • Installed Audio: The Polycom Soundstructure C-Series delivers high quality audio pick up and broadcast for boardrooms, training rooms and larger meeting rooms, and again allows for an uninterrupted workflow from Skype for Business.

Polycom’s video conferencing and collaboration solutions for Skype for Business similarly include a broad range of huddle, meeting room and immersive telepresence equipment which support everything from the launch of quick ad hoc teleconferences to organising and hosting formal virtual meetings.

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The Polycom CX5100 is a 360-degree video camera which can broadcast visuals from around the room. It can be set up as a USB peripheral on its own or paired with the CX8000 for a complete room collaboration solution. The Polycom RealPresence series is a standards-based platform that offers full native support for all Skype for Business content.

The RealPresence series also includes support for collaboration features such as direct integration with Outlook calendar and directory access. These collaboration features are extended in the RealConnect for Skype for Business range, which offers scheduling and click-to-join from both the Skype for Business client and the Polycom endpoint.

This functionality is also included in the RealPresence Clariti software. RealPresence Clariti is a collaboration platform which optimises Skype for Business and endpoint resources to deliver the best possible collaboration experience. It also provides support for other third-party video conferencing platforms, extending the reach of who you can connect with from Skype for Business.

What do we like?

Polycom Skype for Business compatibility

The Polycom range for Skype for Business includes desk phones, conference phones, installed audio and video collaboration.

Convenience, accessibility and ease of use help to make Skype for Business one of the most popular UC platforms out there. If you already run a Microsoft IT environment, Skype for Business is a ready made solution for all your UC needs.

Once upon a time, rival vendors would have sought to compete with Microsoft by creating their own standalone alternatives. The fact that Polycom and others actively seek to create products which enhance Skype for Business is a much better proposition all round for the end user. We particularly like the fact that, as well as offering a sizeable range of products that are compatible with Skype for Business, Polycom also offers professional services aimed at helping Microsoft users get the very best from their UC environment. That shows true dedication to the customer experience.

Who is it for?

Polycom’s range of business comms technology is one of the most comprehensive available, and the company offers endpoints to suit customers of most sizes and budgets. Its Skype for Business compatible products are particularly suitable for companies who want to extend workflows from the desktop into the meeting room, allowing simple continuity between voice and video calls undertaken at the desk and larger scale conferencing and collaboration in a defined environment.

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UC Today Opinion

With a reputation for first class quality and solutions for every use scenario, Polycom UC endpoints are trusted to improve communications in thousands of organisations around the world. Its Skype for Business compatible range creates an attractive marriage between its own quality hardware solutions and one of the world’s most popular business comms platforms.

Plugging in a Polycom endpoint straight to Skype for Business delivers a number of benefits. Its deskphones guarantee clear, crisp audio on all calls while still providing the simple control features of Skype for Business. But perhaps its biggest benefits come in the meeting room, with products which allow Skype for Business to be seamlessly plugged into room equipment to leverage it as an enterprise-class conferencing platform.

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Polycom Review: All the Hardware You Need to Complete Your Skype for Business Deployment - The Laptop Review 11:12, 19 Dec 2017

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