Polycom, Edgewater overcome firewalls, NAT systems

Polycom Inc. and Edgewater Networks Inc. have teamed to help users get over one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to IP videoconferencing adoption: Getting through firewalls and network address translation (NAT) systems unscathed.

As part of the partnership between the two companies announced Wednesday, Edgewater has added the ability to send H.323-based video through its EdgeMarc appliances, which sit in front of the firewall and allow traffic to be securely passed through the firewall from the outside world.

“If you look at the current adoption of voice and video over IP, most are confined to communication inside the enterprise or through the VPN, where address space is the same,” says Anupam Sahai, director of system architecture at Polycom. “(The EdgeMarc appliance) enables cross enterprise or cross firewall/NAT communications.”

All of Polycom’s current videoconferencing lines will work with the EdgeMarc appliances as will any H.323 system. Both encrypted and H.239 (data and video in the same call) traffic will also pass through the devices unaffected. Network administrators only need to configure the appliance and their firewall to talk to each other; individual endpoints to do not need to be reconfigured, Sahai says.

Currently, only H.323 traffic is supported. SIP support will be added at a later date.

In March of this year, the two companies announced a similar system for VoIP systems. Adding video was a natural evolution and one that helps Polycom in the arms race with Tandberg, its closest competitor.

In May 2004, Tandberg LP acquired the assets of Ridgeway Systems, which made firewall/NAT traversal products. Part of Tandberg’s stated product roadmap is to add the Ridgeway technology to its endpoints as a software upgrade early next year.

The EdgeMarc appliances with videoconferencing support are shipping and range in price from US$1,000 to US$23,000, depending on capacity.

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