Thursday, December 29, 2011

Videoconferencing In 2012: Gaining Speed

Unified communications will become essential to business, thanks to gains in business continuity and productivity it brings.

By Robert Mullins Informationweek

Videoconferencing is great for getting people in different time zones to communicate in real time, often on short notice to save the time and expense involved in travel. However, as unified communications, including videoconferencing, grows, businesses will find other value in the technology, too.

"The value of unified communications will move from ROI to business continuity and productivity. It's no longer about the ROI of videoconferencing versus travel. The business still has to run," said Andy Miller, CEO of Polycom, speaking to reporters and industry analysts in San Francisco recently.

To be sure, the return on investment is proven by the fact that people don't have to buy an airplane ticket and spend a day traveling just to meet someone in person. Travel avoidance also reduces the corporate carbon footprint. But, Miller said, videoconferencing on systems such as Polycom's means business is not interrupted by SARS outbreaks, post-9/11 airport security, or volcanic ash clouds.

"There is this increasing awareness that companies need to have emergency backup plans in terms of how they can contact their employees and maintain their operations in the event of weather or other disasters," said Bob O'Donnell, a VP at research firm IDC.

[ In this age of IT consumerization, dedicated, centrally managed enterprise voice infrastructure is inconsequential. Learn more about UC In The Smartphone Era. ]

O'Donnell also cited the volcanic eruption in Iceland last year, in which ash drifted over Western Europe, grounding flights, as an example of a sudden turn of events that interrupts business. He also cited the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., this year as other examples.

"Something like video communications allows people to maintain a very close tie with colleagues and other coworkers, so that's recognized as having a real value to people," he said.

IDC forecasts revenue from unified communications and collaboration technology to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 18.3% to $44 billion by 2015, up from $19 billion in 2010.

Biotechnology firm Genentech is a big user of videoconferencing, especially following its acquisition by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in 2008, where it went from being a company of 12,000 employees to a company of 86,000 employees.

"People don't want to get on a plane anymore," said David Smith, an infrastructure engineer for Genentech in North America.

Today, Roche, with Genentech, has 600 videoconference rooms, 80% of which are high-definition-ready, and the company issued 17,000 Apple iPad 2s to employees to enable videoconferencing when workers are mobile, Smith said. Rooms are typically busiest between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, so that workers in California can videoconference with colleagues who are at the end of their workday in Switzerland.

While videoconferencing and other use of UC tools will continue to grow, O'Donnell says there are still issues of interoperability that will have to be addressed so that systems from Polycom, Cisco Systems, LifeSize, ShoreTel--or infrastructure vendors such as Vidyo--can communicate with each other. There is some use of common standards, and Polycom often touts its lead role in the Open Visual Communications Consortium, a standards body. But interconnecting systems often requires the services of someone from the IT department to make it work, and the idea behind improving the user experience with unified communications is that it's so simple that anyone can set up a videoconference without bothering the IT staff.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Avaya IP Office Release 8.0 Overvew

Avaya IP Office 8.0 has full backwards compatibility with Nortel BCM and includes a robust set of tools for administration (Manager), call tracking (SMDR), system monitoring and diagnostics (System Status Application). It has an ability for users to manage their own calls is supplied through a simple GUI (Phone Manager). Phone Manager functionality can be enhanced through simple licensing and to support IP softphones. Avaya IP Office Version 8.0 will also help extend the deskphone/desktop UC feature set out to the mobile environment while you are on the go. IP Office Release 8.0 has advanced IP-based features such as built-in ACD, built-in conference bridges, and the systems are very modular and scalable. It also has web-based UC features - presence, IM, conferencing, federated contact lists, voicemail and more that can be integrated into Outlook Express.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Videoconferencing goes down market

21 December 2011Videoconferencing is expanding into cloud-based services and inexpensive endpoints such as PCs. Tim Kridel explores whether that trend is a problem or an opportunity for AV integrators.

Every revolution has its martyrs. Avoiding that fate often requires giving up longheld beliefs and changing with the times. The videoconferencing market is a case in point. With the arrival of apps – such as Polycom’s Telepresence m500 – that turn smartphones and tablets into endpoints, the declining cost of large displays and the proliferation of desktop solutions, videoconferencing no longer is something that’s the exclusive domain of executives in boardrooms.

“The cost of videoconferencing at the endpoint has just fallen off the scale,” says Dominic Dodd, a Frost & Sullivan principal analyst who tracks the unified communications (UC) and collaboration markets.

“It used to be around $200 for a software package like Polycom PBX or a Cisco/Tandberg Movi software client. [It’s gone] down to virtually nothing once the video software client is bundled in with the UC client on the desktop.”

The declining cost of endpoint hardware and software – including videoconferencing solutions that let enterprises re-use their existing PCs – is affecting the infrastructure side of the market, too. Not every organisation can afford to spend five or six figures on infrastructure such as bridges, especially not small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), which have been largely under-served in the videoconferencing space. Those up-front costs help create an opportunity for cloud-based videoconferencing services, where a third party hosts the infrastructure in exchange for a monthly fee. In the process, cloud services are opening the videoconferencing market – not just to more users, but also to more non-AV companies, such as IT integrators.

“We see companies very interested in adding AV communication solutions to their current IP networks,” says Victoria Myers, director of operations and cofounder of Myers Network Solutions, which provides IT services in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Previously the sticking point was the big-gulp up-front cost of the infrastructure. With cloud-based, product-agnostic solutions, a number of our clients – financial advisors, higher education, consulting services and companies with regional offices – are jumping to add AV communication solutions.”

Is anybody really using them?

Despite the growing number of vendors offering cloud-based and desktop-centric videoconferencing solutions, there’s ample scepticism about exactly how widely they’re being deployed.

“I accept that vendors are launching products into this space, but we are not seeing customers buying them,” says Ian Vickerage, managing director of Imago Group, a European distributor.

“That’s without mentioning the many failed attempts with videophones. So far – and I hope this changes – these are products looking for an application, in my opinion.”

“The vendors are pushing them, and there are some folks that are probably making the wholesale change,” counters Scott Christianson, owner of Kaleidoscope Videoconferencing, a U.S.-based integrator.

Limited deployments

However, what Christianson is seeing more of is a mixture of solutions. “They might integrate their videoconferencing (room and desktop) and VoIP systems via SIP for conferencing, but use OCS for chat,” he says.

“I think that a lot of the market is really in play. I think that if Google wanted to make a play for this business, you could have a viable cloud-based solution. If you use Google Plus or iGoogle, you already have integrated presence information, chat, voice communications, video communications, email, document sharing and probably other features.”

Some vendors and service providers acknowledge that adoption isn’t as widespread as the current product selection might suggest. “There’s not a lot of awareness yet because cloud services for videoconferencing are new, so it is a pretty significant barrier,” says Mariette Johnson Wharton, vice president of marketing at Vidtel, a U.S.-based provider of cloud-based videoconferencing services.

Raising awareness

"We see the need for solutions like this high, although the demand is a step behind as many SMBs don’t realise that there are cost-effective, high-quality solutions available to them," says Frank Picarello, COO at CMIT Solutions, a U.S.-based provider of managed IT services.

“Companies like CMIT [are] educating the SMBs on not only the advantageous price points and related technology, but also the business benefits in creating a visual collaboration environment."

Some vendors say another barrier to adoption is that enterprises often don't see a clear return on investment for desktop video calling and videoconferencing, regardless of whether it’s facilitated by the cloud or with premises-based infrastructure.

“It's only now starting to get interesting," says Bob Romano, Radvision vice president of enterprise marketing, who says he's been pushing desktop video for years.

"I think that’s because of the UC platforms [adding video], by the way, not because of the videoconferencing industry.”

The rise of cloud-based services

Slow as it might be, videoconferencing’s march down market already has implications for AV integrators. At first blush, declining endpoint costs might appear to be a major negative, especially in terms of margins. But cheaper endpoints also could expand the market for videoconferencing hardware and services. For example, relatively inexpensive endpoints could encourage large enterprises to expand their videoconferencing systems beyond conference rooms and executive offices.

That in turn could encourage them to spend more money on bridges and other infrastructure, or on cloud-based videoconferencing services. Many AV integrators have spent the past several years adding IT skills as more AV devices and services move onto IP networks. So those integrators also could make money by selling IT services such as network surveys and upgrades to enterprises that are expanding their videoconferencing systems.

At the very least, the ability to design and support videoconferencing over LANs, MANs and WANs is a must-have for AV integrators that don't want to lose business to IT integrators or even enterprise IT departments.

Meanwhile, cloud-based services offer AV integrators another revenue opportunity. For example, Vidtel is looking to use AV integrators – currently in North America but soon Europe, too – as sales channels for its MeetMe Video Conferencing Service. Another example is Cisco’s TelePresence Callway, which Cisco will host but rely on integrators and other partners to sell. For both integrators and their clients, part of cloud’s appeal is that it can streamline design and installation.

“A cloud-based solution like LifeSize Connections allows a small vendor like me to implement very large projects very quickly for new customers,” says Kaleidoscope’s Christianson.

“Say that I have a customer that wants 30 endpoints deployed around the U.S. and 120 desktop systems for his mobile workforce and wants them all to be able to conference via a schedule or ad hoc as they like. In a traditional installation, this would take a lot of planning, a lot of work to get the infrastructure up and running, a lot of bandwidth or need to co-locate some central equipment and a lot of time and training.

“With LifeSize Connections, I can have the mobile systems up and running immediately, using the firewall traversal, the MCU, presence server and IM client that are build into the service. The endpoints can be added as soon as I can get a tech on-site. And in this case, the entire deployment would be done by techs that just need to know how to hook up a codec and make a call.”

A scant few cloud-based services also are attractive for their ability to make a hodge-podge of platforms, services and endpoints work together. For example, Vidtel’s MeetMe Video Conferencing Service works not only with room-based systems and executive-suite desktop platforms from Cisco, LifeSize and Polycom, but also with Google Talk and Skype, including on tablets and smartphones.

MeetMe’s flexibility is designed to cater to the underserved SMB market, where it’s not uncommon to find those companies using Skype for video calling because that’s all they have the money, IT skills or both to implement. Cloud-based services could help integrators crack that market by attacking the pain points of complexity and affordability.

“What we hear from a lot of the AV integrators is that there’s only a certain number of companies that have an addressable market where they’re willing to spend a quarter of a million dollars or more,” says Scott Wharton, CEO of Vidtel.

“You hear a lot of people saying, ‘I wish I could have something better than Skype, but I can’t afford it.’ And even if they could afford it as equipment prices come down, it’s still too complicated.” Cloud services could be equally attractive at the other end of the market, among enterprises that already own pro-grade videoconferencing endpoints and infrastructure.

For example, Vidtel says MeetMe addresses interoperability problems between different vendor platforms, making them more practical for videoconferencing sessions where some participants are outside of the company and using another system. The service also makes it easier for those enterprises to conduct videoconferences with employees in the field who are using tablets, smartphones or laptops.

All of that newfound flexibility and interoperability could be a plus for AV integrators if it helps clients make a business case for spending more than they otherwise would have. Reselling or building cloud-based services might be the only way for integrators to make money if desktop solutions grow from the exception to the rule. Even if PC- and tablet-based solutions didn't exist, the upper half of the hardware and software field still would be declining in price and margins.

"Overall, I think that margins on hardware are drying up, and you have to be offering some service," says Kaleidoscope’s Christianson. "I have been spending a lot of time in the past two months starting an infrastructure-as-a-service company called, in which we rent space on devices that will stream and record videoconferencing.

"It might cost $40,000 to get one of these devices up and running, and a small law firm with four videoconference units and a desire to record three events a month can't justify it. But they can justify $350 a month for my service. It is selling well so far, and we are doing a lot of work with other resellers to allow them to resell our services."

Despite all of their potential benefits for integrators and enterprises alike, cloud and other down-market solutions don’t spell the end for expensive, roombased systems or big, immersive executive-desktop products. A law firm, for example, might still shell out for those kinds of solutions. “But they’ll probably say, ‘I don’t want to have to put in the MCU, gateways, firewall traversal servers and everything else,’" says Radvision's Romano. “They’ll buy that from the cloud.

"I think that a lot of the savvy AV integrators that have been reselling videoconferencing are looking at this and saying, ‘Maybe I can stand up a service here,’ because a lot of the AV guys are providing managed services now. So it’s not that hard for them to say, ‘I could probably put up a hosted service and be able to provide some of these conferencing services to the customer.’ I think they still play in the game."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Avaya Night in Canada - IP Office 8.0 Update


I was invited to attend an update here in Toronto yesterday on Avaya's IP Office, which inluded a preview for Release 8.0, scheduled to launch on December 12. Lots of Avaya folks on hand, along with the sponsors, Smart IP. They're one of Avaya's top 10 Canadian reseller partners, and having started out as a Nortel shop, they know the territory pretty well.

Oh - Canadians will clue into the title of this post right away - more on that later.

This was a pitch event to prospective IP Office customers, and being the only analyst, it gave me a pretty interesting perspective on how the story is told and how the value proposition is communicated. Release 8.0 is targeted at the SME market, and serves up to 384 lines. So, there will be some small business here, but it's really mid-sized customers, meaning that they'll have some IT competence. In other words, this is strictly about premise-based systems - there was absolutely no mention here of cloud, hosted or virtual solutions.

If you didn't pay close attention, you would think the focus was 100% about telecom. In many ways it was, as most of the presentation materials covered the feature set of the phones, and how Release 8.0 has full backwards compatibility with Nortel BCM. Fair enough - that's a very important message to communicate, given the huge installed base of Nortel in Canada, and the need for Avaya to retain that business as they transition away from BCM. To that point, a key takeaway was an EOS date of March 1, 2012 (end of support)for Norstar/BCM - at that point, only Avaya products will be supported.

Getting beyond that, yes, there was talk about SIP trunking and unified communications, but not in a huge way. It was good to hear about advanced IP-based features such as built-in ACD, built-in conference bridges, and how modular and scalable the systems are. All good, but most of the talk was about how the BCM features are fully migrated to the Avaya phones. This is really important for long-time Nortel users, who don't have to think about the codes they use for routine things like call transfer, call forwarding, last number redial, DND, etc. They'll use the same codes with Avaya, which translates into faster/easier adoption, lower install costs and less need for retraining. I'd say they've done a great job here, and that speaks to the broader, more strategic message they have about investment protection for this migration.

Wearing my UC hat, this seems a bit dull, but it's a clear reminder that telephones still matter big time, and the phone system is still very much the heart and soul of most communications systems - certainly among this customer set. Most VARs still have telecom as the core offering, but we all know how things are changing.

This brings me to the fun stuff - one-X, and what 8.0 supports at the desktop and for mobility. Now we're getting closer to UC, and Smart IP has the right idea to help move their customers along with Avaya as a solution for both today and tomorrow. I'll be short here, but basically, one-X has an Outlook plug-in that brings all the web-based UC features - presence, IM, conferencing, federated contact lists, voicemail, etc. - into that interface. Avaya knows this is where end users spend most of their on-screen time, so this way they don't have to leave the Outlook page to do all these things. It's a great ease-of-use example, and speaks to the end user experience as a key value driver.

The other interesting one-X update is mobility integration. It's only available on the higher-end IP Office solutions, but it does all the things you'd expect when extending the deskphone/desktop UC feature set out to the mobile environment. This definitely plays well for a UC solution, but what really stood out for me is their choice of devices supported by one-X. They're launching with Android first, and that's what the demo was based on. Early next year, iPhone will added, but no firm plan is in place yet for RIM. Wow. I think that speak volumes, not just about mobility, but how handset trends are driving things. Two years ago, it would have been RIM and only RIM - and now, they're not even on the table. Incredible.

It was also nice to see them talk about DevConnect and their partner ecosystem who have developed a range of vertical applications - fax servers, appointment reminders, enhanced IVR, call reporting, call recording, CRM integration, etc. This isn't a leading value driver for IP Office, but it really helps prime customers to think beyond everyday telecom.

I could go on, but on the whole, I think Avaya is on the right track with 8.0, especially for the Nortel base. You also need to keep the audience in mind. You can only throw so many ideas out there, but the sale will ultimately be based on how comfortable the customer is in transitioning Nortel BCM over to Avaya IP Office. Collaboration was discussed a bit, and I don't think video was mentioned - same for Aura, social media or Flare - but that's totally fine. These things will come - and can only come once the customer buys into the IP Office story - and of course, Smart IP's competence to get them there.

Ok, now the title of this post starts to make sense. This is Joe Bowen - the voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was very engaging and funny - thought he was great. Joe speaks from the heart and what I enjoyed most were his feelings about how hockey and its culture are rooted in the character that makes Canada special. I've played and avidly followed the game long enough to know where he's coming from. I may not be a Leafs fan, but I found it a bit ironic to hear Joe extol the Canadian virtues that make hockey great, yet here we were listening to how Avaya is transitioning customers away from Nortel, Canada's greatest tech icon. Ouch.

Here we are - Avaya Night in Canada - cool, huh? Gondola seats - can't get up any higher than this at the ACC. Thanks Avaya and Smart IP!

Love seeing these Cup banners right in your face sitting up so high. Oh, y'know, there once was a time when this happened regularly around here (I'll keep my reigning-Cup-champs-Bruins gloating to myself), but I think the wait will go on for a while yet...

Originally posted on Jon Arnold's Analyst 2.0 Blog

Friday, December 16, 2011

Avaya says 'Every enterprise has a comm solution from us'

BANGALORE, INDA: Avaya, a provider of enterprise communications systems, is one of the key players in the unified communications, contact centers, and related services segment.

The company has largely been focusing on the burgeoning SME sector to grow its business and has succeeded in its attempt by winning thousands of customers across the country.

In an interaction with CIOL, Adil Doctor, Avaya's director, SMB Sales (India), talks about its business, future plans and growth strategy.

1. What are Avaya's solutions for SMEs?

Doctor: Avaya is one of the major players that provide software as well as hardware solutions to leading businesses and organizations around the world. Enterprises of all sizes depend on Avaya for state-of-the-art communications that improve efficiency, aid collaboration, customer service and enhance competitiveness.

We have IP Office, PARTNER Advanced Communications System (ACS) and Software Communication System for the SMEs from across the globe.

Built ground up specifically for SMEs, IP Office delivers the communications capabilities big businesses are used to, with the elegant simplicity and ease of use small businesses consider a must have. This phone system helps growing enterprises differentiate themselves from competitors through enhanced employee productivity, lower costs, and improved customer service.

We have three versions of IP Office – Essential Edition, Preferred Edition and Advanced Edition – to meet the distinct needs of SMEs.

Essential Edition helps businesses to keep costs down and still get the key communications capabilities, while Preferred Edition enables to gain 10 times the voice messaging capacity of Essential Edition and handle dozens of calls simultaneously.

The Advanced Edition helps maximize productivity and efficiencies in customer service.

The PARTNER ACS is a small business phone system that provides the simplicity of traditional telephony with the advanced functionality of IP telephony. It supports five incoming lines and nine extensions with a maximum configuration of 21 lines and 44 extensions, or 31 lines and eight extensions.

It offers options that include caller ID, distinctive ringing, send all calls, speed dialing, and five-party conferencing. In addition to these productivity tools, the system also has a wide range of cost-control features. This platform is a converged small business phone system that is designed to help meet the complex business needs facing small enterprises today.

Then comes the Avaya Software Communication System that enables SMEs to deliver powerful unified communications applications to improve employee productivity, collaboration, and mobility – all while reducing communications costs.

Its functions include unified messaging, meet me conferencing, video conferencing, presence, IM, advanced softphones, personal auto attendant, find me/follow me capabilities, application integration with Microsoft and IBM, and more. Employees can control and customize their apps with just a few easy clicks.

CIOL: What are the different Unified Software Applications you offer to SMEs?

Doctor: We are a leader in the Unified Communications (UC) space in India. We have the following solutions which give an easy-to-use communication solution to the enterprises across the world.

Avaya Aura Conferencing: Avaya AuraConferencing enables real-time conferencing and collaboration, and eliminates the fees associated with externally provided conferencing.

Avaya one-X Communicator: This rich Unified Communications client provides users with simple, intuitive access to everyday communications tools.

Avaya one-X Mobile: This softphone client lets mobile users quickly connect to the right people, at the right time, through a broad choice of mobile devices.

Meeting Exchange: This in-house collaboration solution combines audio conferencing capabilities from Avaya with market-leading collaboration tools and video.

Mobility and End User Clients: This family of Avaya communications applications and collaboration tools gives users intuitive access to everyday communications that can help increase productivity.

Unified Messaging: The Avaya Unified Messaging platform provides call answering, voice messaging, and speech capabilities.

web.alive: Avaya web.alive is an online, 3D, immersive collaboration environment that lets you communicate with others as though you were face-to-face.

Source: CIOL Bureau

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Avaya named Official Telecom Equipment Supplier for 2014 Olympic Games

SOCHI, RUSSIA–(Marketwire – Nov 30, 2011) – Avaya, a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, has been named by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee as the official supplier of telecom equipment for the 2014 Olympic Games. The agreement was signed earlier today at the annual Sochi 2014 Marketing Club meeting headed by Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, and David Johnson, Sponsorship & Key Event Executive Director, Avaya.

As the Official Supplier of Network Equipment to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, Avaya will be a part of the overall Games technology solutions group. Avaya will provide network, collaboration and communications equipment and work with other technology partners to provide athletes, dignitaries and fans worldwide a full communications experience around the Olympic Games.

“During preparation for the Sochi Winter Games we will rely upon innovations and the use of advanced high-tech and innovative approaches. The partnership with Avaya is an excellent example. The development of state-of-the-art telecommunication solutions is one of the key challenges in the Games preparation. Avaya’s experience, scale and technology innovations assure us that this work will be performed according to the highest quality standards.” Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee

Avaya will provide the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee with all technology solutions and communication equipment required to create a single Games telecommunication infrastructure which will integrate the competition venues, press centers and the Olympic Village. The solution includes data transfer equipment, including switches, routers and information security systems, as well as communication equipment, such as telephone and contact center systems. Avaya experts will design and test the systems together with other Sochi 2014 technology partners.

“We are happy that the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee has included Avaya in the 2014 Games Vendor list. We are eager to use our experience, innovations and expertise to assist in the organization and management of this world-class Olympic event. We proved our capabilities and delivered the first converged ‘All IP’ network in Olympic Games history in Vancouver 2010, and now we will expand on this accomplishment to bring a new era of collaboration and innovation to the Olympic Games in 2014,” Joel Hackney, Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, and President, Field Operations, Avaya.

More at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Survey: SME execs say business falls short in customer communications Read more: Survey: SME execs say business falls short in customer communication

SMEs are struggling to respond in a timely fashion to the needs of customers, despite an overwhelming belief that communicating with customers quickly is one of the most important factors in developing business, according to a new study.

The research, a 700-person survey of senior managers in SME's across the United Kingdom and Germany by Avaya, found 68 percent see responsiveness as critical to their businesses success and 66 percent seeing communications as necessary to building customer relationship.

Despite that, more than four-in-five respondents cited dissatisfaction with their company's customer service, and more than half said they needed to improve general communications with their clients.

Avaya said the survey shows most SMEs are still struggling to build a cogent communications strategy.

Some 84 percent of respondents said they would support flexible scheduling for their employees, and more than half said that flexibility was a string recruiting and retention tool, both germane to developing solid customer service.

"It's interesting to see that such a vast majority (OF SMES) are prioritizing responsiveness, customer service and relationships above all else," said Michael Bayer, president of Avaya's EMEA division. "Yet, the findings also uncover the need for new ways of working and communicating to fill the gap between good intentions and reality. It's critical that businesses have the tools and solutions to communicate with and serve customers effectively."

For more:
- see this TelecomReseller UC Networks article

Monday, December 5, 2011

The ghost of Nortel continues to haunt Canada's tech sector

By BARRIE MCKENNA | Columnist profile

Nortel Networks, once Canada's leading high-tech company, filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 14, 2009. - Nortel Networks, once Canada's leading high-tech company, filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 14, 2009. | Mike Cassese/Reuters

Next month marks a grim anniversary in the annals of Canadian business.

Nortel Networks, the former flagship of the country’s high-tech industry, filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 14, 2009.

Three years on, the company’s spectacular flameout remains a potent symbol of the country’s failed innovation potential.

Generous tax credits and a government that embraced Nortel’s products weren’t enough to save the company.

Nortel is now dismembered. Its brainpower and intellectual property is spread around the world.

But the damage is still being felt – on employment, research activity and the vitality of Canada’s tech industry.

Canadian companies are still spending less on research and development than they did in 2007. The R&D budgets of the country’s 100 leading research spenders shrank by a combined $1-billion in 2010 from its 2009 level, dragged down by Nortel’s disappearance, according to Research Infosource Inc. It marked the fifth-straight year of declining R&D spending in this annual survey.

Nortel’s influence stretched far beyond the company’s own operations.

In 2007, the high-tech industry employed more than 70,000 people in the Ottawa area, once the hub of Nortel’s global operations. Today, there are fewer than 44,000, a drop of nearly 40 per cent.

A significant cluster of technology companies remains in the nation’s capital, many doing cutting-edge work. But they’re typically small, and increasingly foreign-owned – subsidiaries of larger players in a global industry.

The gutted shell of Nortel is winding its way through the bankruptcy process. In the summer, the company auctioned off a portfolio of 6,000 patents to Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion and others for $4.5-billion in cash, marking the sale of its last significant batch of assets. The patents, many developed in Canada with generous government tax credits, covered everything from 4G wireless networks, Internet and voice technology to optical equipment and semiconductors.

What remains is a pile of cash left from the sale of these assets, tax losses and, interestingly, roughly $1-billion worth of unused R&D tax credits. With Nortel losing money before its collapse, the tax credits proved worthless.

Some of those tax credits, along with the loss carry-forwards, may eventually be used to offset taxes payable on the gains from asset sales. That could mean more money for creditors, including thousands of Nortel pensioners and former employees.

It’s a small consolation for the country, which has pumped billions into R&D, but continues to struggle with lagging innovation and productivity. Canadian companies aren’t investing enough in R&D. They’re developing too few of their own products and services. And they’re investing too little on productivity-enhancing technology.

Part of Ottawa’s response to the Nortel bankruptcy was the creation of a federal task force to review government R&D incentives. Headed by Open Text Corp. chairman Tom Jenkins, the task force recently recommended scaling back the $3.5-billion-a-year Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit program, putting more money into direct support for companies and making better use of government purchases to spur innovation.

That may be only part of the solution.

Canada must figure out a way to foster a new generation of Nortels, while nurturing existing tech companies.

Some experts say the answer lies in better incentives – not just for the companies who do R&D – but also for the businesses that turn their research into successful Canadian-made goods and services. Len Farber, the former director general of tax policy at the Finance Department, argues that a key policy lesson of the Nortel saga is ensuring R&D produces clear economic benefits for Canada. That may involve providing greater incentives, including additional income-tax breaks for companies that convert their R&D into successful Canadian-made products, argued Mr. Farber, now a senior adviser at law firm Norton Rose in Ottawa.

“We’re incurring a large tax expenditure, but we’re not getting as much benefit as we could,” he acknowledged.

The solution may also be better incentives for investors to put their money into the kind of venture capital that sustains innovative companies. And more competition in domestic telecom markets couldn’t hurt.

Canada has paid a steep price for the death of Nortel. It can’t afford another.

Polycom Provides Broadest Range of UC Solutions Interoperable With Microsoft(R) Lync(TM), Including Polycom(R) HD Video and Voice(TM) Solutions

From Polycom(R) CX7000 -- the First Room Video Collaboration Solution Custom-Built for Full Integration With Microsoft Lync -- to Multi-Purpose Phones, Expanded Integration and Interoperability With Lync Helps Create Seamless UC Experiences for Employees, Partners, and Customers

PLEASANTON, CA, Dec 05, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Polycom, Inc. the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC), today announced that it has expanded interoperability with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) to additional Polycom SIP-based wired and wireless voice products. Polycom also announced the availability to order the Polycom(R) CX7000, the first room video collaboration solution custom-built for full integration with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM), the UC platform that unites voice communications, IM, and audio, video, and Web conferencing. The Polycom CX7000 is the first video collaboration solution to be qualified by Microsoft as "optimized for Microsoft(R) Lync(TM)." In addition, Polycom is testing Polycom(R) RealPresence(TM) Immersive room systems for Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) interoperability. The announcements made today offer customers a broad set of choices -- more than 40 systems -- to enhance their Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) environments to make collaborating by video, voice, or content-sharing easier, from the board room to the desktop or on-the-go. On Tuesday, December 6, Polycom will co-host a webinar with Microsoft to discuss collaboration trends in the enterprise and show how Sprint has made their business more productive and effective with UC solutions from Polycom and Microsoft working together.

"We are excited to expand our strategic relationship with Microsoft by extending our broad solution portfolio with interoperability for Microsoft(R) Lync(R). Polycom's strategic relationship with Microsoft enables customers across the globe to multiply the return on solution investments they have in place today and will need in the future," said Sue Hayden, executive vice president, Strategic Alliances, Polycom. "By directly interoperating with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) across a comprehensive range of HD video and voice solutions, Polycom delivers a true UC experience that enables users to be much more productive and collaborative."

Connecting Microsoft and Polycom solutions for IM/presence, web conferencing, video, voice, content-sharing, and other UC applications into an interoperable environment enables users to quickly find each other, launch video and voice calls easily and intuitively within Microsoft(R) Lync(TM), and share content via Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) to Polycom HD video systems.

Polycom CX7000 The Polycom(R) CX7000 unified group video collaboration system -- the latest addition to the company's groundbreaking Polycom CX line -- takes the Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) experience customers are familiar with on their PCs and recreates it in the conference room to provide a higher level of business collaboration and productivity with enhanced simplicity for end users. The solution offers all of the Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) features customers want (presence, IM, online meetings, content collaboration) coupled with Polycom's industry-leading room video collaboration solutions in a single plug-and-play system. With especially tight integration between the Polycom and Microsoft solutions, customers get an intuitive interface, a simplified UC experience, and a seamless HD video experience. Users are able to click on a calendar event to instantaneously join meetings and, with simple conference leader controls, users can easily see presence and drag-and-drop participants into the call for more productive and efficient meetings.

"The Polycom CX7000 delivers a competitive advantage for us, helping to drive company-wide gains in productivity, efficiency, and innovation," said JJ Brantingham, partner and CIO at Sebesta Blomberg & Associates, a national leader in providing full-service consulting and engineering services, and a Polycom CX7000 beta customer. "The Polycom CX7000 solution simplifies the UC experience and offers seamless HD video. The group document collaboration feature allows multiple people on the team to make edits to a single, shared document while on video, regardless of which office they are in, ensuring we are all literally on the same page."

Polycom's extended interoperability with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) spans four key areas(1):

                  --  Standards-based Polycom wireless telephones.Polycom(R) KIRK(R)             Wireless DECT and Polycom(R) SpectraLink(R) Wi-Fi  solutions are             the first wireless phones to display and share call and directory             information via Microsoft(R) Lync(TM). Polycom SpectraLink WiFi             also features presence and instant message information. Offering the             first on-premises wireless solution for Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) in             healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and hospitality, Polycom wireless             phones are mission critical to improve productivity and speed up             workflows, from the emergency room to the factory floor.         --  Standards-based Polycom desktop and conference phones. Select             Polycom(R) SoundPoint(R) IP desktop, Polycom(R)             SoundStation(R) IP conference, and Polycom(R) VVX(R) business             media phones can now deliver rich, clear, HD voice and seamless             functionality with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM), so customers of Polycom             voice devices can seamlessly upgrade to get more value out of their             existing investment.         --  Polycom RealPresence Immersive. Polycom is currently testing the first             immersive video solution for direct connection to a Microsoft(R)             Lync(TM) server to offer presence-based dialing and HD video in             Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) calls. With this release, Microsoft(R)             Lync(TM) users can find Polycom(R) RealPresence(TM) Experience             (RPX(TM)) and Polycom(R) Open Telepresence Experience(TM)             (OTX(TM)) immersive systems, check their availability, and then make             a direct video call.         --  Enhanced support for video deployments. Polycom is also testing             support for the bandwidth management policies of the Microsoft(R)             Lync(TM) interoperable communications solution across all Polycom             video solutions, as well as the Polycom(R) RealPresence(TM)             Platform, the most comprehensive software infrastructure for universal             video collaboration. By supporting Microsoft(R) Lync(TM)             bandwidth management policies across an entire spectrum of video             solutions, Polycom enables network administrators to confidently             design and deploy Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) video networks and             Polycom video solutions knowing that they can be managed under a             single policy to avoid oversubscription or call degradation and help             ensure critical applications remain unaffected. This means a better             overall experience for users and administrators alike, leading to             wider adoption of efficient, cost-saving video collaboration to help             connect people in additional ways, virtually anytime, anywhere.                     

"Polycom's innovative solutions -- such as the CX7000, custom-built for full integration with Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) -- are an ideal complement to Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) environments and help to deliver on the promise of truly unified communications," said Kirk Gregersen, general manager, Microsoft(R) Lync(TM). "Polycom and Microsoft are furthering the adoption of video collaboration and Microsoft(R) Lync(TM) by delivering comprehensive UC solutions that help enable a rich video collaboration experience and improved meeting productivity."

Polycom was recently named the recipient of the 2011 Microsoft Unified Communication Innovation Partner of the Year award for the company's leadership in delivering innovations that provide powerful, enterprise-grade UC and visual collaboration solutions for customers.

Pricing and Availability The Polycom CX7000 system is currently available for ordering starting at US$9,999 through Polycom authorized solution providers, direct market resellers, systems integrators, service providers, and distributors and will be shipping by year end. The Polycom KIRK Wireless DECT solution is currently available starting at US$1,195. For all other Microsoft-optimized solutions, please contact your Polycom sales representative or reseller for pricing and no cost software upgrades for those with existing solutions under a service contract. For more information, visit: or call 1 800 POLYCOM.

About Polycom Polycom is the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC) solutions for telepresence, video, and voice powered by the Polycom RealPresence Platform. The RealPresence Platform interoperates with the broadest range of business, mobile, and social applications and devices. More than 400,000 organizations trust Polycom solutions to collaborate and meet face-to-face from any location for more productive and effective engagement with colleagues, partners, customers, and prospects. Polycom, together with its broad partner ecosystem, provides customers with the best TCO, scalability, and security -- on-premises, hosted, or cloud delivered. Visit or connect with Polycom on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

(1) Depending on the product line, customers only need to update server or handset software.

NOTE: The product plans, specifications, and descriptions herein are provided for information only and subject to change without notice, and are provided without warranty of any kind, express or implied. Polycom reserves the right to modify future product plans at any time. Products and related specifications referenced herein are not guaranteed and will be delivered on a when and if available basis.

Copyright 2011 Polycom, Inc. All rights reserved. POLYCOM(R), the Polycom "Triangles" logo, and the names and marks associated with Polycom's products are trademarks and/or service marks of Polycom, Inc. and are registered and/or common law marks in the United States and various other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Editor's note: Polycom and Microsoft executives will host a webcast featuring a Sprint executive discussing the power of collaboration to transform business on Tuesday, December 6 at 11:00 am ET. To register, please click here.

                  Contact:         Ellen Topp         Polycom, Inc.         +1 925 924 5865                              

SOURCE: Polycom, Inc.