Juniper, Polycom Take Video Vows

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and videoconferencing specialist Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) have formed an alliance to jointly offer videoconferencing systems and associated network infrastructure to service providers, a move that looks like a direct response to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s acquisition of Tandberg. (See Cisco Lands Tandberg, at Last.)

Juniper and Polycom, which were already technology partners, are pitching their joint solution as the industry's first "conferencing-aware" network solution, noting that a single, integrated system enables a "significantly more scalable and profitable model for service providers compared to the current overlay network model for supporting telepresence and video conferencing services." (See Juniper Adds IP Partners.)

The joint package includes: The Junos Space network application platform and its subscriber management suite (including policy control and identity capabilities); Juniper's MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers and SRX Series Services Gateways; and Polycom's telepresence and videoconferencing systems, including its Distributed Media Application (DMA) that enables centralized call control and failover redundancy.

The companies have tweaked their products to ensure optimum compatibility. Specifically, Juniper routers will detect a Polycom video connection and provision the right amount of bandwidth for it in real time.

The integrated solution, set to be commercially available in mid-2010, is being pitched at operators looking to offer multimedia conferencing as a managed service.

The new alliance makes sense, especially in light of Cisco's Tandberg move.

For Juniper, it's a way to get a hand into telepresence without having to develop a product. Other potential partners Juniper could have considered include HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) and Teliris Ltd.

For Polycom, the alliance strengthens its position relative to the combined force of Cisco and Tandberg, which has added more mainstream video options to Cisco's high-end telepresence products. (See Tandberg Deal Boosts Cisco's Video Plans.)

Polycom, which previously had a reseller arrangement with Nortel Networks Ltd. as a way to reach telecom operators, separately announced a videoconferencing and telepresence reseller deal with Siemens Enterprise Communications GmbH & Co. KG last week. (See Siemens Enterprise, Polycom Team Up.)

Speculation will likely now focus on whether this alliance is a precursor to a potential acquisition. But Juniper lacks Cisco's resources and appetite for big acquisitions, and Polycom, a growing company that's on course to report full year 2009 revenues of close to $1 billion, wouldn't come cheap.

Instead, Juniper has been turning to partnerships as a way to keep pace with its rival's breadth.

In the packet/optical convergence sector, for example, Juniper's focus is on its joint-venture work with Nokia Networks . And in a separate joint venture, Juniper and NSN are selling combinations of their routers and Carrier Ethernet gear. (See Juniper's Packet-Optical Spells M-P-L-S and Juniper, NSN Launch Joint Venture.)

That doesn't mean Juniper has lost its technology mojo. The company still has some things brewing in-house, including (possibly) a packet core for mobile networks, to face off against Cisco's acquisition of Starent. (See Juniper Looks Inward for Wireless and Cisco to Buy Starent for $2.9B.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:44:17 PM
re: Juniper, Polycom Take Video Vows

Forgot about Vidyo (which coincidentally just landed a press release in my inbox.)

It's interesting talking to the telepresence vendors, especially the smaller ones -- you hear lots about viewing angles and sound fidelity and the like.  But the more commonly used telepresence becomes, the less perfect it has to be.  I wonder if this market, in the end, comes down to plain old brand-name factors, which would favor Cisco and Polycom.

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