Accordent was acquired by Polycom in March, 2011, and branding for the overall product line has been somewhat in flux since then. Currently, the product has been branded as “Media Suite.” As might be expected, integrations with Polycom’s video conferencing codecs are key to their roadmap, and there is no offering currently for a hardware capture appliance outside of a VC codec. However, the platform does include a software application for Mac or PC called “Easy Capture.” it should be noted also that the system supports non-Polycom (including Cisco) endpoints. The model now is that you use your codec to “call” a video conference server. This is a central device meant to serve dozens of codecs that can be spread across the network. Licensing is based on capacity (the number of concurrent encoding sessions and viewing streams you need, and you can either purchase an appliance from Polycom or use your own VMs or physical servers. You can add more of your own or Polycom’s devices to scale up, and the servers can be assigned to different portions of the workflow, such as encoding or streaming. The product incorporates a re-architecting of the former Accordent Media Manager, and includes features such as rich media playback with thumbnails, detailed analytics, quizzing/ testing, and support for uploading caption files. Polycom’s new tack is bold in that there is no local copy of recordings saved since you are recording from endpoint to server over the network. We spoke with one school that tested the system and found that it sometimes dropped calls and recordings were lost, so if reliability is important you’ll likely want to work closely with your network team to ensure exceptional performance and/or configure local recording of a backup somewhere in the AV system for each room.
Core Distinguishing Feature Set
- No dedicated capture appliances–now uses VC codecs only as capture devices.
- Increased focus on collaboration and making capture part of a broader framework for communication, content acquisition, delivery, and media management. Integrations with other Polycom products, including video conferencing systems, and external systems such as Sharepoint are a current focus.
- Newly re-architected Media Manager application includes:
- HTML5 player that offers device-specific resolutions and content configurations
- Separately configurable video and content, with HD resolution possible for each
- The ability to upload and ingest external videos (up to 4GB)
- Thumbnail navigation
- Testing/ quizzing
- Content approval workflows
- Admins can create “channels” to group content together (i.e., for a course)
- Upload caption files
- Moderated Q&A for live events
- Software application for Mac or PC called “Easy Capture”
- Robust support for live streaming
- Microsoft Lync/ Skype for Business integration
Polycom and Duke
In past surveys we considered Cisco TelePresence Content Server, but have excluded it this time since there hasn’t been much traction around the idea of using codecs to record classroom video. We feel that reliability is better with dedicated room appliances, and users of DukeCapture seem very committed to the fully-featured playback and administrative options our current system provides. Since we are a Cisco campus, we were, however, intrigued that the server supported other manufacturers’ equipment, and think this system could be worth looking at again once reliability of the network becomes solid enough to support a distributed model of recording.