Polycom tool manages mixed videoconferencing systems

Videoconferencing has been around for a while, and by now, most agencies have more than one form of the technology. It might be a high-end system, such as Cisco Systems' Telepresence, or a few low-cost webcams from the local Best Buy. Or, more likely, they have some combination of those products.

Now, Polycom has introduced software that administrators can use to manage all the endpoints from one Web console, named the Polycom Converged Management Application (CMA). "Up until now, videoconferencing has been struggling with high numbers of deployments," Polycom marketing manager Marty Sexton said. "Key to enabling new growth is operation in a standards-based way."

Polycom demonstrated the CMA application at the FOSE government information technology trade show earlier this month. GCN's publisher, 1105 Government Information Group, also runs FOSE. CMA can manage as many as 55,000 video endpoints across a network, including Polycom equipment and any other device that uses H.264 video. Administrators can log in via a Web console and check the health of the services. Troubleshooting and software updating is also possible.

Another advantage is applying policies. For example, you can allocate bandwidth according to employees' GS level. High-ranking employees could garner bandwidth, while the rank-and-file could help conserve bandwidth with grainier images. Administrators can also track usage of individual endpoints, which could help make the business case for more conferencing equipment. The console also provides a topological map of how much bandwidth is used across all locations.

Although Sexton said this is an entirely new product, the software does look suspiciously similar to the previous management software, the Polycom SE200. It does have one surprisingly new feature though: CMA also comes with user software, named CMS Desktop, that allows any computer with a webcam to link to the video network. Making a video call can be as easy as starting an instant message chat.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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