This week, we are celebrating four years of Poly RealConnect, our cloud video interoperability as-a-service that connects traditional videoconferencing systems to Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business meetings. Originally launched as an on-premises-based video solution to support Microsoft Lync, RealConnect evolved into a cloud-based service to support our customer’s interoperability needs for Skype for Business and eventually Teams. Four years in, this service is still going strong – in fact, this year we’ve witnessed our highest volume of service usage to date, as organizations begin their return to the office and conference room usage has increased.
With all the momentum behind our RealConnect Service, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on the past four years and share what we are looking forward to in the future.
THE ORIGIN OF REALCONNECT
Before RealConnect existed, there were multiple so-called “gateway services” which brought Microsoft (in this case Lync 2013) users into their respective non-Microsoft bridging services. The problem was that while they did allow Microsoft clients to connect to meetings with videoconferencing endpoints, they created new problems. Namely, unfamiliar and confusing scheduling workflow and an unfamiliar video experience that disoriented users. Poly RealConnect solved these problems by introducing a clever way of utilizing the familiar Outlook scheduling process and by keeping the video meeting experience intact. Poly’s own Adam Jacobs, Principal Architect for Microsoft solutions, patented this scheduling mechanism, which laid the foundation of the cloud video interoperability services that we see today.
VIDEO INTEROPERABILITY AS-A-SERVICE
Poly was Microsoft’s first cloud video interoperability partner, starting with Skype for Business, then Microsoft Teams support was added to enable customers to smoothly transition without any disruption. This cloud-based approach was critical in lowering the initial entry cost and speeding up ROI for our customers, driving a huge uptick in the cloud-based subscriptions relative to on-premises based. And after Microsoft announced that Skype for Business Online is going to be retired after July 31, 2021, we have seen steady growth of Microsoft Teams-based meetings in our service. In fact, we are seeing more than 99% of RealConnect calls are for Microsoft Teams meetings since mid-2020.
REALCONNECT SERVICE’S ROLE GOING FORWARD
Poly is the only cloud video interoperability partner that also offers an end-to-end portfolio of native Microsoft Teams solutions including Microsoft Teams Rooms – and we’ve helped hundreds of customers transition to native Teams video. Last October, Microsoft reported 115 million active daily Teams users and we’re seeing strong demand for Teams-certified meeting room and personal solutions. At the same time, we’ve seen a steady rise in RealConnect service minutes – logging a record-breaking number of minutes in March 2021. And we believe these numbers will stay strong, especially as more companies return to the office and as the retirement of Skype for Business Online approaches. Additionally, each company has its own schedule to deprecate videoconferencing books, and RealConnect Service will support an organic transition to Microsoft Teams solutions. This is especially true, as we are surprised to see a huge diversity of endpoints that connect to our service — we have recorded more than 200 types of systems to date!
Regardless of your timeline or where your organization stands in its transition to Microsoft Teams, Poly can help you with RealConnect video interoperability, and multiple Teams-related services available from Poly Professional Services team. Here’s to a strong four years with Poly RealConnect Service – looking forward to more great years to come.