HP Partners with Polycom as Cisco Split Grows

HP said it will incorporate Polycom's video and voice collaboration products into its UC portfolio as it continues its competition with Cisco. HP also apparently is dropping its partnership with Tandberg. In addition, HP also announced support of Microsoft's upcoming enhanced UC platform.

Hewlett-Packard is expanding its partnership with Polycom, one of several new steps in building up its unified communications offerings and the latest moves in HP's growing competition against Cisco Systems.

HP and Polycom announced March 22 at the VoiceCon 2010 show in Orlando, Fla., that HP will start selling Polycom's portfolio of voice and video technologies as part of its UC&C (Unified Communications and Collaboration) Services offerings, and that Polycom's line of telepresence and video conferencing products will interoperate with HP's Halo telepresence solution.

HP officials reportedly also have cut ties with Polycom rival Tandberg, which is in the process of being bought by Cisco for $3.4 billion.

HP officials said during a Web conference that they will continue to support HP customers who are using Tandberg products, but that Polycom's open architecture was a better fit going forward than Tandberg.

"To address the challenges of operating globally, organizations are looking to visual and unified communications solutions to help them be more efficient, productive and competitive," Mark Golden, vice president of network services at HP and general manager of the vendors UCC business, said in a statement.

The addition of Polycom's products will enable HP to give customers "a complete range of open voice and visual communications solutions that simplify business communications while speeding collaboration with clients and key partners," Golden said.

In addition to the expanded Polycom partnership, HP also announced that it will offer products optimized for Microsoft's Communications Server "Wave 14," the software maker's upcoming version of its UC (unified communications) platform.

The offerings will include a module for remote branch offices and four existing PCs that have been qualified for Microsoft's Communications Server Wave 14.

The relationship between longtime partners HP and Cisco started to strain last year when Cisco expanded its data center presence with its UCS (Unified Computing System), an all-in-one offering that included not only Cisco networking products but also Cisco-branded blade servers. HP and Cisco are now both competing heavily in the burgeoning converged data center space. In February, Cisco announced that it was not renewing its systems integrator contract with HP.

HP also is looking to grow its ProCurve networking business, through both innovation and acquisition, including the proposed purchase of 3Com.

Polycom also is looking to bulk up against Cisco through partnerships. Earlier in March, Polycom announced a UC deal with Avaya that centered around Avaya's Aura UC platform and Polycom's Open Collaboration Network strategy.

That deal came just over a month after Polycom and Siemens Enterprise Communications Group announced a similar partnership.

Polycom's deal with HP includes Polycom's video and voice solutions for Avaya and Microsoft UC environments, as well as new Polycom VOIP (voice over IP) phones for Microsoft's Office Communications Server Wave 14.

Polycom CEO Bog Hagerty said in a statement that the partnership with HP will help grow Polycom's global market reach.

HP's expanded line of offerings for Microsoft's new Communications Server includes the Survivable Branch Communication zl Module, which will make it easier for remote offices to maintain network connectivity if they're using Communications Server Wave 14. The module also will help offices quickly migrate from legacy PBX systems.

The module combines the Communications Server Wave 14 and HP ProCurve software that is found inside ProCurve Switch 8200zl and 5400zl products.

The HP PCs that are qualified to work with Microsoft's upcoming enhanced UC platform include the TouchSmart 9100 business PC, EliteBook 6930p notebook, and EliteBook 8530w and 8730w mobile workstations.

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