The Microsoft Unified Communication solution has a wonderful user friendly conferencing and Live Meeting capability. It is great for desktop to desktop conferencing and small boardroom conferencing, using the Roundtable device (Polycom CX5000), if you are looking for a cost effective flexible solution. For a high-end conferencing experience Microsoft have partnered with Polycom to offer clients high-end conferencing solutions that are scalable and suitable for fixed conference room implementation.
Thanks to Kathea, the Polycom distributors in South Africa, we were able to test the Polycom HDX8000 at our office. The device is configured in OCS as an endpoint capable of voice, video and presence but no IM. Audio and video quality is very good and superior to both Communicator and Live Meeting when the HDX is used to host a multipoint conference. It is ideal for a fixed conference room facility with the unit offering very flexible connectivity to screens and audio equipment. It is very easy to configure and use. You can search AD for OCS users and call them directly from the on-screen interface. The HDX is visible in a user’s Communicator buddy list as a contact. Unfortunately the HDX does not support Live Meeting which is a drawback as this is the most flexible conferencing tool within OCS at the moment. Polycom may have opted not to develop the integration considering that in Lync Server 2010, Microsoft have decided to integrate the Live Meeting functionality into Communicator. To support meetings scheduled via Outlook a separate Polycom Conferencing Add-in for Outlook is required. This in conjunction with the HDX calendaring service allows the HDX to call into an Outlook scheduled conference. Sharing of content can only be done via the separate PC input port on the HDX. It does not natively support content sharing in OCS.
If you require a fixed conferencing facility then you cannot go wrong with Polycom. Even with the Live Meeting drawback it is still the most compatible with OCS and is amongst the top three high-end conferencing solutions available.