Polycom Upgrades Videoconferencing System

MILIPITAS, CALIFORNIA (08/16/2000) - Videoconferencing equipment maker Polycom Inc. this week introduced Version 2.0 of its Global Management System featuring a cadre of new features and simplified licensing.

Polycom's Global Management System (GMS) is designed to provide a central console for maintaining distributed ViewStation videoconferencing endpoints.

Version 2.0 improves on its predecessor with a Web-based interface that allows administrators to configure and diagnose ViewStations from anywhere. The Web interface also allows for multiple administrators to work on the same group of endpoints, says Kent Smith, director of product marketing for Polycom's Network Systems Division.

GMS also features a global directory that can be accessed from any endpoint on a network. The address book is intended to hide the complexities of connecting to ISDN or IP-based endpoints by letting the user select a person or name of a conference room. Polycom has also added LDAP support for combining existing directories with GMS.

For those users with existing network management tools such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView, GMS does support SNMP so that endpoints can be managed under one console with all other network devices. Other new features in GMS 2.0 include unattended software update services, call detail records and a peer in mode that allows an administrator to see, but not hear, what's happening on any connected endpoint. The latter feature will help ensure any given view station is working properly.

"This is a good product for those companies on the verge of putting dedicated [videoconferencing] specialist in remote locations just to deal with endpoints," says Christine Perey of Perey Consulting in Placerville, Calif.

"With GMS, any network or telecom manager can have control from anywhere."

More importantly, the company has improved a previously "terrible" pricing model for GMS. The new licensing scheme is based on the number of endpoints to be supported, with a single-station pack available for US$249. Also, Polycom is offering free upgrades to all version 1.0 users.

Currently, only the ViewStation 128, 512, MP, V.35, SP and SP384 running version 6.0 of the Polycom endpoint software are supported. Users of Polycom's desktop product, ViaVideo, can only access the global directory. On the server side, GMS 2.0 runs on a moderately equipped Windows NT server. For those doing remote administration, Internet Explorer 4.0 or greater is required.

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