Desktop Video: First Impressions of Polycom CMA

I had a visit from John Palaszynski, our regional Polycom rep the other day and had a look at the Polycom CMA client. (CMA stands for Converged Management Application. Doesn’t that sound like something out of corporate?) This appears to be their answer to Tandberg’s Movi client…which is a little ironic, because although the Movi client appears to have gotten the greater mindshare, version 2 (much improved) has been rumored for almost a year, but not yet deployed. CMA is indeed available; and has been since August 2008 or so.

Both are “server-based” videoconferencing clients which work on the Windows platform. By server-based, it means that if a user wants to participate in a videoconference, they click on a web site within their browser which takes them to the video server. After authenticating the user, the server checks to see if the videoconferencing client software is installed on the user’s machine. If it isn’t, it asks permission to download and install the client. This gets around the issue of installing a fat client on the machine, (i.e. PVX).

The client looks a lot like a chat client or Skype. It has buddy lists and so on. So far I’ve been unable to ascertain whether there is an API, or whether the appearance is configurable. For example, I still don’t think there is a way to have the client open up full screen and wait for a video call. There seems to be no way to suppress the buddy screen/directory window.

Many of the set-up screens look as if they were lifted from the Polycom PVX product; they are identical. One major improvement over PVX is the support for high-definition video.

Of interest is that if you have the CMA server, it does NOT replace the need for an multipoint controller (video bridge), if you want to make multipoint calls. So, the product appears to be ideal for a large corporate deployment on a LAN or VPN-WAN.

Here is the data sheet.

Here’s a press release with a fair amount of background.

They also have a white paper describing a number of example applications.

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