Polycom said it will soon release an application server for multimedia conferencing.

The company said its Proxias application server, available this month, will let service providers cost-effectively deliver rich-media conferencing services.

"We will remove the operational inefficiencies of video," said James Brennan, Polycom's director of product management for network video products.

Proxias is a Linux-based IMS-compliant, SIP platform that works with Polycom's InnoVox 4000IP and RMX 2000 media servers. Proxias can be clustered for redundancy and can deal with peak flows, Brennan said.

Service providers may have a dozen multi-conferencing units, which need to be maintained as what Brennan called "islands of capabilities."

Proxias will allow network managers to manage those resources as an efficient, more fault-tolerant central pool, he said.

While general purpose application servers are fine for single messaging or video streaming, Brennan said, providers looking to offer very high-end collaboration services such as combinations of audio, video and web content need a specialised server.

Ronald Gruia, a telecom analyst with Frost and Sullivan, noted that Proxias' high availability is one feature the company can press against competition from application servers from Alcatel, Nortel and others that may not be honed for conferencing.

Companies with competing media servers include RadiSys, which in June released the Convedia Software Media Server. RadiSys bought Convedia last year.

The release of Proxias means Polycom is "starting to be a player in the IMS space," Gruia said.

Proxias will initially be sold as part of a ReadiVoice solution. A package supporting 4,000 ports of conferencing, Proxias, an InnoVox 4000 media server and ReadiVoice would work out to $495 a port.

Brennan also said that later this year Polycom will release an on-demand video product similar to ReadiVoice that will allow service providers to offer end-users accounts with an 800-number for any-time video conferencing.

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