Polycom HD mobile telepresence: videoconferencing comes to tablets

Sight and Sound Ltd Managing Director, Rajesh Lakhami, presents a sponsorship cheque to CIO East Africa Director, Mr. Andrew Karanja and CIO East Africa Business Development Manager,Ms. Nicholle Myles, towards this years CIO 100 awards, which will be held on November 2011.The awards honour excellence and innovation in the IT industry.

Sight and Sound Ltd Managing Director, Rajesh Lakhami, presents a sponsorship cheque to CIO East Africa Director, Mr. Andrew Karanja and CIO East Africa Business Development Manager,Ms. Nicholle Myles, towards this years CIO 100 awards, which will be held on November 2011.The awards honour excellence and innovation in the IT industry.

With advances in technology, possibilities are limitless. iPad users can now video conference via their gadgets, courtesy of an application by technology company, Polycom. Rajesh Lakhani, the managing director of Sight and Sound limited, the distributor of Polycom Telepresence solutions said the app is already available for the iPad 2, the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and would eventually expand to other tablets. Dubbed Polycom HD mobile telepresence, the app can be downloaded for free from the App Store and the Android Market. With the free app users can run basic video calls but to get the full Polycom portfolio of services and features, a business will have to sign up for an account and assign it to an individual device. Speaking last Friday during a CIO East Africa breakfast meeting in Nairobi, Mr Lakhani told the Business Daily that the app runs on Polycom’s RealPresence platform, which operates its standard videoconferencing rooms and terminals that include larger high-definition televisions and speaker systems. He also presented a sh250,000 cheque from Polycom in support of the this year’s CIO 100 innovation awards. The awards seek to honor 100 companies that demonstrate excellence and achievement in IT. “The idea is to encourage even more videoconferencing use by enabling the tablets to talk with the larger videoconference rooms….we have solutions for small and large groups depending on a client’s preference,” he said. The app can connect up to 16 calls at once, although some critics say the screen can practically only support up to a dozen screens. It allows users to showcase documents such as Powerpoint presentations and PDFs for participants to view and discuss. Mr Lakhani said the app also uses a virtual private network to create a secure line to a company eradicating security concerns that come with most online services. He said Polycom aims to get its application on as many devices as possible, with eventual work on the iPhone and smartphones. The app is built on Polycom’s RealPresence Mobile platform, which allows connectivity to existing company communication and security infrastructure across multiple video conferencing protocols. Technology analysts say tablet based video conferencing is not exactly something new. We have Skype, Apple’s Face Time and other apps like Qik and Fring. But they all have bottlenecks, the devices these work on are limited in number and Skype for mobile and Face Time are only for one to one video chatting. Also Face Time works only between iOS devices. Polycom’s offering boasts VPN client compatibility, keeping conference conversations behind closed firewalls. So that’s one thing better than Skype’s security issues, including an exploit that made user data available to hackers. Mr Lakhani, argues that a small business might not need HD high definition resolution if the system is to be used for simple, occasional, face-to-face meetings. For such, it is cheaper to install desk top based Solution like the Polycom m100 desktop Telepresence with your existing webcam or an entry level SD Standard Definition Telepresense solution to assist organisation conduct meetings face to face at low cost of investment. He said organizations choosing to implement a Telepresence solution or suite need to put more thought to the configuration of the system. It is crucial that they should consider the number of locations to be connected on to the system simultaneously, whether these connections will be within the LAN, WAN, VPN, VLAN internet or intranet. The network is behind the firewall, and what precautions should be taken to ensure that business information is secure. Tweaking your firewall to allow call-signaling flows that initiate and terminate a Telepresence meeting over a network is easier with proper tools. However, one needs to be ready to work with the firewall administrator and the vendor to identify ports that need to be opened or devices to be used like Polycom’s Video Border Proxy (VBP) which allows controlled access through an organization network’s firewall.

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