Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, once the best of friends in selling each other's IT software and hardware into large data centers and distributed IT systems, corporately called it quits on Feb. 18. Their channel partner, systems integration and global service contracts end on April 30 and will not be renewed, Cisco has proclaimed.
Reasons for this long-simmering unease can be found in this eWEEK article. Naturally, this corporate clash of IT titans raises a number of concerns. Among them: What does this separation mean for the two companies' many thousands of shared customers? How does this affect their channel sales partners and VARs? How much of an opening will it give to other systems integrators, now that HP has been fired by Cisco in this area?
Perhaps the most important question is this: How do two companies like these go on working together with common customers and providing innovative products when they cannot share proprietary information?
For insight on these and other questions in this winter of corporate discontent, eWEEK sought opinions from several industry thought leaders.
Analyst Bob Laliberte of Enterprise Strategy Group said he thinks that, realistically, the two companies cannot go on working together.
"Basically they don't [work together anymore]. There may be some type of basic reseller agreement put in place, and they will figure out a way to support existing customers, but moving forward, the lines have been drawn and they will be competing against each other for business," Laliberte told eWEEK.
"The cutting-edge solutions will be either all HP or all Cisco (and Cisco partners). For example, in the Cisco camp is the Vblock technology utilizing VMware, Cisco's UCS, and EMC storage and management software. For HP, that may be HP-branded QLogic SN6000 FC switches integrated with HP servers and storage and controlled by the Simple SAN connection manager."
James Staten, a principal analyst with Forrester, predicts "degrees of partnership" in whatever relationship HP and Cisco have in the future.
"Each of these companies has been a reseller of each other's solutions in a way that they were jointly developing solutions that required access to road maps and NDA info that simply doesn't make sense to share anymore," Staten told eWEEK.
"So they will simply move down to a lower level of partnership where this isn't necessary. It still means they will jointly work [with publicly available info] to ensure their solutions integrate. To your point in your question, they have to."