Plantronics, HP launch new collaboration on native Microsoft Teams video conference solution

Plantronics sees the HP Elite Slice G2 Audio-Ready as providing formidable conference room advantages, including the elimination of cable clutter from tables, and is transitioning from the Polycom MSR series to these Polycom + HP SRS Bundles for Microsoft room systems.

The Polycom-HP SRS Bundle

Plantronics has announced a new collaboration with HP Inc. around a new native Microsoft Teams video conference solution. The Polycom-HP SRS Bundle combines Plantronics’ Polycom Trio 8500 conference phone platform with the HP Elite Slice G2 Audio-Ready Skype Room System as the controller for the Microsoft Teams video and content sharing. It also uses the Polycom EagleEye IV USB camera for video capture. The bundle is aimed at larger and mid-sized conference rooms, although the companies plan to add a smaller huddle room solution as well.

“Plantronics and Polycom together have a large set of solutions around Microsoft, but compared to previous generations of solutions, including Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams is quite different,” said Takeshi Ishimaru, Polycom’s Senior Alliance Marketing Manager for Microsoft Solutions. “Teams is a closely managed infrastructure with its own unique requirements, and of course we have to make sure that existing Skype for Business solutions work in the Teams environment. For us, partnering with HP combines the best of both worlds – a brand new HP system and Polycom technology.” Accordingly, Plantronics sees this partnership with HP as the logical road map forward from the existing Polycom MSR Series for native Microsoft room systems.

The Polycom hardware component, the Trio 8500, is a flexible platform, which is sold to many open SIP providers, especially in Microsoft environments.

“It is a powerful phone with a great audio quality from its PolycomHD Voice Technology, which is one of our best-selling conference phones,” Ishimaru said. “It has eight directional microphones, which makes it idea for larger conference rooms.” The Polycom EagleEye IV USB camera features 12x optical zoom and wide pan area capabilities, which also make it a good fit for larger rooms. It is simple to install, with plug and play USB capabilities.

The HP component, HP Slice, is a mini-PC similar to the Intel NUC, with a small form factor and a Windows 10 IoT operating system.

“It’s a very flexible form factor,” Ishimaru said. “The HP Elite Slice for meeting rooms G2 Skype Room System – Audio Ready brings a big advantage to the market in terms of removing all the cable clutter. Because all the cables have to be connected to the PC, if the form factor doesn’t allow it to be under the table, it forces a lot of cables on top. That’s why HP removed the audio components, the mic and speakers, and all you see is the touch display. Instead they leverage someone like Polycom for this, and that’s one of the reasons that we partnered with HP. Together, we want to make the conference experience transparent from a technology perspective, with things like the touch screen for meetings so you don’t have to dial. It is meant to be super-simple, removing all the barriers to making meeting experiences fruitful and productive.”

The HP relationship here is new for Polycom because this kind of Skype Room system originally required working with Microsoft Surface Pro.

“When we introduced our first Skype Room system, we followed Microsoft requirements at the time, which were that they be based around Surface Pro 2017,” Ishimaru indicated. “Since then, they changed the requirements so it doesn’t have to be based on Surface Pro.”

Since Polycom began to design Skype Room solutions, they have been acquired by Plantronics, which Ishimaru said brings further advantages to this kind of collaboration.

“Polycom always offered Microsoft solutions, but combining with Plantronics now means that our handset can now be used with best-in-class DECT headset solutions,” he noted. “So not only do we provide conferencing, we can offer headset solutions that can be managed in the cloud. We had the most comprehensive solutions before, but we didn’t have headsets and ability to manage them. We partnered with Plantronics before, but the single company and product point make things easier.”

Ishimaru said that this joint solution with HP should be attractive to channel partners.

“A Skype Room solution is currently the only way for a video conferencing solution to connect to Microsoft Teams, so a lot of customers are looking into Skype Room solutions,” he said. “HP Slice offers very clear advantages, and it has large advantages for global companies in particular, because Microsoft Surface Pro is not available globally. We couldn’t offer it in South America for example. We can offer this bundle with HP in almost all geographies, and it will be fulfilled by our common distributors. We will start in North America first, and we have a plan to expand that worldwide. We believe this bundle will be more widely accepted.”

The plan is also to expand the joint solution to smaller conference rooms as well.

“We do have plans to sell this one into smaller huddle rooms as well, but for now we are addressing the medium to large environments,” Ishimaru said. “We plan to offer the huddle room solution next year and further advance our partnership with HP.”