Polycom's RealPresence Platform is serving as the backbone of a secure video collaboration environment for members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the alliance of 28 countries from Europe and North America focused on defence, security, and crisis management.
Following NATO's award of a contract to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Polycom is used for video collaboration by NATO employees and delegates who regularly meet face to face to confidentially negotiate diplomatic missions, organise humanitarian interventions, and plan NATO Response Force actions. In the process, NATO is streamlining decision making and communication across broadly diverse cultures, saving hours or days of travel time for meeting participants, and reducing costs by replacing in-person travel with video meetings.
SAIC is installing Polycom RealPresence Platform components in all major NATO locations throughout Europe and North America. This platform was chosen for NATO's collaboration environment because of the organisation's stringent security requirements, combined with the need to communicate using a wide variety of legacy systems from multiple vendors. Polycom solutions are known for their strong security protections and open standards-based interoperability.
"Accurate and clear communication is essential when representatives from 28 different countries and cultures are weighing issues central to their collective defence, yet those communications must be trusted and reliable to mitigate the security risks posed by new ways of working," said Gus Mommers, centre head, Conference Management Services at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency.
Network managers can use the same Polycom RealPresence Video Collaboration Server to accommodate both the highly secure 'NATO Secret' classification for confidential communications and 'NATO Unclassified' for less sensitive meetings. Polycom's firewall traversal solutions allow desktop or mobile video users to join meetings without putting NATO's network at risk.
A scheduling application built with myVRM, a Polycom/SAIC technology partner, allows authorised users to schedule video meetings based on the security classification of the rooms and endpoints available at a given time. Polycom's interoperability with Microsoft Lync, used widely throughout NATO, also makes it easy for Microsoft Lync users to launch or join a video meeting and upgrade on the fly from a voice call to a video call.
Other features believed to be unique to Polycom, such as the ability to generate closed captioning, help ensure NATO members can always effectively communicate. NATO also accelerates decision-making by sharing content across Polycom systems.
"NATO's work requires co-operation and collaboration, so the ability to meet face to face anywhere, anytime is a strategic advantage," said Mark Escobar, SAIC Department of Defense Agencies and Commands Group senior vice president. "Polycom solutions met NATO's requirements for security, interoperability, and ease of use. Combined with the scheduling system, the Polycom collaboration environment allows NATO to focus on the work at hand, and not on the technology needed to do it."
"NATO stands up for people who all want the same thing: peace, security, and well-being," said Tony D'Angelo, vice president, federal operations at Polycom. "We're proud SAIC chose Polycom to help NATO deliver on that mission."